Instruments

Instrument Families

See how the instruments are categorized.



Atumpan
A type of African talking drum. Played in pairs, these drums provide the bass part in Adowa dance ensembles. These drums are also found in Fontomfrom ensembles. The atumpan is played either with one's bare hands or L-shaped sticks.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:




Balofon
A gourd-resonated xylophone, originally from West Africa.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bass Drum
The largest drum. It stands upright and is hit on the side. It is used in both orchestras and marching bands.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bells
A collection of bells that are worn, often around the ankle of a traditional dancer

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bodhran
An Irish drum whose construction includes two perpendicular pieces of wood at the back used to hold the instrument. It is most commonly played with a stick that has a knob at one or both ends.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Ireland.




Castanets
A Spanish percussion instrument that consists of two small shell shaped pieces of wood held together with string. The strings of the castanets are looped over the thumb. Sound is created by clicking the two shells together using the other ingers.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Spain.




Chimes
A set of tuned metal tubes that hang in rows in a frame. The sound is made by striking the tube at the top edge with a mallet. The chimes are often used by orchestras to create the sound of bells.




Claves
A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of short, wooden sticks

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Congas
A tall Afro-Cuban drum with a tapered or barrel-shape, played with the fingers and the hollow palm of the hand.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.




Cymbals
A percussion instrument consisting of two round metal plates that create classing sounds when struck together. A single cymbal can also be struck with a stick.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Da-daiko
A double-headed cylindrical drum of Japan.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Darbuka 
A single-head drum with a goblet shaped body used mostly in the Middle East and Northern Africa

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of the Middle East.

Pronunciation:




Djembe
A rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Drum
A percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylinder with a skin stretched tightly over one or both ends. The skin is hit with the hands or drumsticks.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Dùndún
An hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drumheads connected by leather tension cords, which allow the player to change the pitch of the drum by squeezing the cords between their arm and body.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Finger cymbals
Tiny cymbals that are played by putting one on the thumb and the other on the index or middle finger.




Gamelan
A multi-timbre ensemble consisting of metallophones, xylophones, flutes, gongs, voices, as well as bowed and plucked strings.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Gankogui
An African bell made of forged iron and comes in various sizes, it is played by with a wooden stick.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Glockenspiel
A percussion instrument with a set of steel bars arranged like the keyboard of a piano. It is played either with two hammers, or with a piano keyboard.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Gong
A flat, circular metal disc which is hit with a mallet.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Guiro 
A Latin American percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Hand Drum
A traditional Native American drum, made with a rawhide stretched over a circular frame

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Kakko
A Japanese double-headed drum.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Kendang
A two-headed drum used by peoples from Maritime Southeast Asia.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:




Kettle Drum
The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Its name comes from the large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch. Also called timpani.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Maracas
A rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Marimba
A percussion instrument that consists of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard. A series of hollow tubes beneath the bars allows the sound to resonate. The bars are struck with mallets.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Mbira
Traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, a mbira is usually made of a wooden board with attached metal tines, and is played with the thumbs.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Metallophone
A percussion instrument with a series of metal bars of varying pitch suspended over a resonance box. The instrument is struck with a hammer or mallet.




Mridangam 
A wooden double-headed drum, originally from southern India.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Powwow Drum
A traditional native american drum, made with a large base and covered with rawhide of deer, buffalo or steer

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Rattles 
A hand-held rattle that is traditionally used as a dance rattle or to accompany the rhythm of the Native American drums

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Sandblocks
Wooden blocks covered with sandpaper that are rubbed together to make a brushing sound.




Saron
A musical instrument of Indonesia, which is used in the gamelan, it normally has seven bronze bars placed on top of a resonating frame

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:




Shaker
A percussion instrument made of a container filled with beads or seeds which make a rattle sound when shaken.




Shekere
(also called Axatse) A West African percussion instrument consisting of a dried gourd with beads or cowries woven into a net covering the gourd.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Snare Drum
A small double-sided drum with skin pulled tight over the top and bottom. Metal wires, called snares, are stretched across the bottom skin, and rattle when the drum is struck.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Steel Drums
A tuned percussion instrument, originally made from the kind of large, metal container (also known as a drum) used for storing oil. The head of the steel drum contains several depressions, each of which produces a different pitch. The steeldrum was developed in Trinidad in the 1930's and 40's, and is played with a rubber-headed stick.




Tabla
A pair of twin hand drums from the Indian subcontinent.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of India.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Taiko
A family of Japanese percussion instruments

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Tambourine
A percussion instrument consisting of a small wooden hoop with metal disc inserts called jingles. The hoop is covered on one side with a drumhead. It is played by shaking or striking the drumhead with the hand.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Timpani
The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Timpani is Italian for kettle drum, another name for the instrument because of its large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Triangle
A percussion instrument made of a metal bar bent into the shape of a triangle with one corner open. It is held by a string and struck with a metal rod.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Woodblock
A percussion instrument that consists of a hollow block of wood, struck with a stick or mallet.




Xylophone
A percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard, with a hollow tube under each bar. Each bar gives off a different pitch when struck with a mallet.

Pronunciation:

Example:


Instruments

Instrument Families

See how the instruments are categorized.



Atumpan
A type of African talking drum. Played in pairs, these drums provide the bass part in Adowa dance ensembles. These drums are also found in Fontomfrom ensembles. The atumpan is played either with one's bare hands or L-shaped sticks.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:




Balofon
A gourd-resonated xylophone, originally from West Africa.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bass Drum
The largest drum. It stands upright and is hit on the side. It is used in both orchestras and marching bands.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bells
A collection of bells that are worn, often around the ankle of a traditional dancer

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Bodhran
An Irish drum whose construction includes two perpendicular pieces of wood at the back used to hold the instrument. It is most commonly played with a stick that has a knob at one or both ends.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Ireland.




Castanets
A Spanish percussion instrument that consists of two small shell shaped pieces of wood held together with string. The strings of the castanets are looped over the thumb. Sound is created by clicking the two shells together using the other ingers.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Spain.




Chimes
A set of tuned metal tubes that hang in rows in a frame. The sound is made by striking the tube at the top edge with a mallet. The chimes are often used by orchestras to create the sound of bells.




Claves
A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of short, wooden sticks

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Congas
A tall Afro-Cuban drum with a tapered or barrel-shape, played with the fingers and the hollow palm of the hand.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.




Cymbals
A percussion instrument consisting of two round metal plates that create classing sounds when struck together. A single cymbal can also be struck with a stick.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Da-daiko
A double-headed cylindrical drum of Japan.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Darbuka 
A single-head drum with a goblet shaped body used mostly in the Middle East and Northern Africa

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of the Middle East.

Pronunciation:




Djembe
A rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Drum
A percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylinder with a skin stretched tightly over one or both ends. The skin is hit with the hands or drumsticks.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Dùndún
An hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drumheads connected by leather tension cords, which allow the player to change the pitch of the drum by squeezing the cords between their arm and body.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Finger cymbals
Tiny cymbals that are played by putting one on the thumb and the other on the index or middle finger.




Gamelan
A multi-timbre ensemble consisting of metallophones, xylophones, flutes, gongs, voices, as well as bowed and plucked strings.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Gankogui
An African bell made of forged iron and comes in various sizes, it is played by with a wooden stick.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Glockenspiel
A percussion instrument with a set of steel bars arranged like the keyboard of a piano. It is played either with two hammers, or with a piano keyboard.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Gong
A flat, circular metal disc which is hit with a mallet.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Guiro 
A Latin American percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Hand Drum
A traditional Native American drum, made with a rawhide stretched over a circular frame

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Kakko
A Japanese double-headed drum.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Kendang
A two-headed drum used by peoples from Maritime Southeast Asia.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:




Kettle Drum
The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Its name comes from the large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch. Also called timpani.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Maracas
A rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Marimba
A percussion instrument that consists of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard. A series of hollow tubes beneath the bars allows the sound to resonate. The bars are struck with mallets.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Mbira
Traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, a mbira is usually made of a wooden board with attached metal tines, and is played with the thumbs.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Metallophone
A percussion instrument with a series of metal bars of varying pitch suspended over a resonance box. The instrument is struck with a hammer or mallet.




Mridangam 
A wooden double-headed drum, originally from southern India.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Powwow Drum
A traditional native american drum, made with a large base and covered with rawhide of deer, buffalo or steer

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Rattles 
A hand-held rattle that is traditionally used as a dance rattle or to accompany the rhythm of the Native American drums

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of North America.

Pronunciation:

Example:

Audio sample courtesy of Douglas Blue Feather




Sandblocks
Wooden blocks covered with sandpaper that are rubbed together to make a brushing sound.




Saron
A musical instrument of Indonesia, which is used in the gamelan, it normally has seven bronze bars placed on top of a resonating frame

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Indonesia.

Pronunciation:




Shaker
A percussion instrument made of a container filled with beads or seeds which make a rattle sound when shaken.




Shekere
(also called Axatse) A West African percussion instrument consisting of a dried gourd with beads or cowries woven into a net covering the gourd.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Snare Drum
A small double-sided drum with skin pulled tight over the top and bottom. Metal wires, called snares, are stretched across the bottom skin, and rattle when the drum is struck.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Steel Drums
A tuned percussion instrument, originally made from the kind of large, metal container (also known as a drum) used for storing oil. The head of the steel drum contains several depressions, each of which produces a different pitch. The steeldrum was developed in Trinidad in the 1930's and 40's, and is played with a rubber-headed stick.




Tabla
A pair of twin hand drums from the Indian subcontinent.

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of India.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Taiko
A family of Japanese percussion instruments

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Japan.

Pronunciation:




Tambourine
A percussion instrument consisting of a small wooden hoop with metal disc inserts called jingles. The hoop is covered on one side with a drumhead. It is played by shaking or striking the drumhead with the hand.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Timpani
The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Timpani is Italian for kettle drum, another name for the instrument because of its large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Triangle
A percussion instrument made of a metal bar bent into the shape of a triangle with one corner open. It is held by a string and struck with a metal rod.

Pronunciation:

Example:




Woodblock
A percussion instrument that consists of a hollow block of wood, struck with a stick or mallet.




Xylophone
A percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard, with a hollow tube under each bar. Each bar gives off a different pitch when struck with a mallet.

Pronunciation:

Example:


 

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