INSTRUMENT DESCRIPTIONS

 

Wow, are there a lot of weird and wonderful musical instrument out there. We've compiled a great list along with short descriptions. Check it out...

Below you will find a large number of musical instrument descriptions; while making use of these descriptions, please be aware that there are usually many variations and spellings of most of these instruments. We have attempted to cross-referenced many of these, but still, any suggestions or corrections are welcomed!

 

Note: We do not stock all of the instruments below, many, but not all. The purpose of the list is informational!

F - M

Fiddle - Common folk name for a violin.

 

Fa'atete - Tahitian drum, covered in a tight, single membrane; distinct, high sound like a drum roll.

 

Fipple - A word meaning the sharp edge of the lip (of a flute or recorder).

 

Flageolet - Whistle, usually with 6 holes related to the recorder. Often made from a metal tube, either cylindrical or conical. hence Tin Whistle, also known as penny whistle.

 

Gadulka - Bulgarian type of fiddle played upright; usually rests on knee. Has three or four strings, very similar to a Rebec.

 

Gaida - Bulgarian version of mountain/shepherd pipes. Has single drone, and 8 hole chanter, one hole for the thumb, 7 for the fingers. Also Gajdy in Slovakia.

 

Gaita - Spanish traditional bagpipe, usually with single drone, and plain leather bag. Traditionally played at feasts and weddings. Gaita gallega in Galicia, and gaita asturiana in Asturias are similar, also known in northern Portugal.

 

Gamelan - A type of percussion orchestra common in the East Indies.

 

Gangan - Nigerian drum, smaller than Dundun; played under the arm.

 

Gasbah - Rim-blown flute.

 

Gayda - Bulgarian bagpipe; single reed; mouth blown.

 

Gemshorn - A cow horn with finger holes and a fipple inserted at the wide end.

 

Ghatam - South Indian clay pot; classical percussion.

 

Glockenspiel - Percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned metal plates played with a pair of small hammers

 

Gilo Stones(Solomon Islands, Pacific) - Music is created by striking certain stones with bamboo sticks of varying lengths, producing mellifluous xylophonic sounds, like running water.

 

Gousli - Traditional Russian zither/harp with 16 metal strings.

 

Guirro - Scraper of the Caribbean; long, ribbed gourd rubbed with stick.

 

Guitar - Six-stringed musical instrument played with the fingers or pick.

 

Guitarra - Portuguese guitar, usually 12 strings in 6 courses. Curved fingerboard and fan type tuners. Closely associated with traditional Fado music. Directly related to medieval citterns and the English guitar.

 

Guitarron - Large bass guitar of Chile and Mexico. The Mexican version is a 6 string Mariachi bass guitar, while the Chilean is a 26 string troubadour's instrument related to the Cuatro.

 

Guoqin - 7 stringed Chinese zither.

 

Gutbucket - One stringed bass made from a metal washtub.

 

Gyterne - Short necked lute.

 

Hackbrett - German /Austrian/Swiss instrument similar to hammered dulcimer & santoor. Tuned chromatically, played only on one side of the bridges.

 

Hammer Dulcimer - Large trapezoidal zither with many strings in pairs, 3s or 4s stretched over long (sometimes individually moveable) bridges. Played with small wooden or cane hammers. Played in British Isles and North America. Closely related to the Hungarian cymbalom, German/Swiss hackbrett, Iraqi and Iranian santir (probably the origin of all of these), Indian santoor, Korean yangum and Chinese yang qin.

 

Hardanger - Folk violin of western Norway; 8/9 strings, usually 4 sympathetic strings running under the fingerboard; narrower, shorter-necked and more arched than the ordinary violin. 

 

Harmonica - The first of the modern European free reed instruments. A block of 10 or more double sided reeds, mouth blown, diatonic scale.

 

Harmonium -

1) small, portable, bellow-blown reed organ used in India; player usually sits on ground, one hand fingering keyboard, other pumping bellows.

2) European and American Harmoniums have a pedestal, and foot pedals to pump the bellows. The player sits in a chair and uses both hands.

 

Harpsichord - Similar to a piano except the string is plucked by a small plectrum, originally of quill but nowadays usually Delrin.

 

Hummel - Dutch/Flemish instrument of the dulcimer family.

 

Hurdy Gurdy - A mechanical development of the violin with the strings vibrated by a rosined wheel, and keys stopping the melody strings. Found throughout Europe. See also Vielle and Nyckelharpa.

 

Iyailu - See Bata drums.

 

Jaleika - From Tver, Russia; wind instrument made from reed-tipped cow horn.

 

Jarana - Five course guitar of Mexico, smaller than the normal guitar.

 

Jew's Harp - Hand-sized instrument placed in front of the mouth; sound produced by breathing/blowing across, and simultaneously twanging, the metal reed set into a frame; many types. Also known more recently as Jaws Harp.

 

Jouhikko - Bowed lyre of Finland.

 

Kalimba - Played with the thumbs; "thumb piano"; its sound is produced by the vibration of tongues of metal or wood; small in size. Also known as Mbira in Zimbabwe, Budongo in Uganda and Sansa in South Africa.

 

Kanoun - Zither/psaltery of the Middle East. (Also 'quanun')

 

Kantele - Known by other names including 'gousli'; Finnish folk instrument of the psaltery type. Also popular in the Baltic states

 

Kanun - 72 stringed harp of the Near East.

 

Kaval - See Caval

 

Kawala - Special type of Egyptian bamboo flute (different from the nay); played in religious festivals.

 

Kena - Shepherd's pipe; shepherd's flute (pre,Colombian times) without mouthpiece, carved in a bamboo cane; originally carved from animal bone. Notch flute, usually in key of G. Also Quena

 

Kenacho - Larger Kena, usually in key of C

 

Kobsa - Plucked lute or guitar from the Ukraine, also a Hungarian bowed instrument.

 

Konghou - Historical Chinese string instrument; harp.

 

Kora - West African harp lute, popular in Gambia and Senegal. It has a skin stretched across a large gourd, a wooden neck and gut or nylon fish wire strings stretched across a tall bridge. Played somewhat like a harp.

 

Koto - Longest of the long zithers of East Asia; about 6 feet long; 13 silk strings; this narrow harp is laid horizontally, each string with its own movable bridge.

 

Lali - (Beqa, the Pacific) two large slit log drums.

 

Laud - A flat back lute from Spain, with 12 metal strings in 6 courses and pear shaped body.

 

Limberjack - A wooden dancing man or other creature, used for rhythm. Played with a stick and paddle.

 

Lojki - Wooden spoons, popular Russian percussion.

 

Lute - Class of instruments related to the violin and guitar; plucked or bowed; many types, usually with a bowl back. Originated from the Arabic Ud (Al Ud=A Lute).

 

Lyre - Small harp dating back to biblical times.

 

Mandola - Italian lute, now popular with celtic musicians. Originally bowl backed, now often has a flat back like a cittern and 8 strings. Second voice (tuned as a viola) of a quartet.

 

Mandolin - Small Italian lute usually with 8 strings, sometimes 12. Now popular throughout the western world, often made with a flat back like a cittern. Tuned as a violin.

 

Marimba - Resonated xylophone with wooden tone bars.

 

Mazhar - A very large tambourine.

 

Mbira - See Kalimba

 

Melodeon - Button keyed Accordion. In England this term includes all button keyed accordions, in Ireland and Scotland it is more specific to the one row 10 keyed variety.

 

Metallophone - Percussion instrument consisting of a row of tuned metal bars.

 

Mizmar - Arabic wind instrument with single or double reed.

 

Moxenos - Family of three wooden flutes of variable size (large, medium and small) that are always played simultaneously.

 

Musette -

1) French bellows blown bagpipe with two small cylindrical keyed chanters, and a shuttle drone.

2) a French shawm related to a bagpipe chanter, rather like an oboe.