01/23/15 Instruments & Instrument Categories

For Monday 1/26:
Read Chapters 8 & 9
(Yes, we are reading chapters out of order. Yes, we’ll go back and read the ones we’ve skipped for now!)

– Not the study of pipe organs
– Not the study of heart, lungs, kidneys…
– The study of musical instruments! Structure, function, history, etc.

  • Name as many musical instruments as you can.
  • How do different kinds of instruments produce sound?

Instrument Categories of the World:

  • Aerophones: produce sound by causing a body of air to vibrate
  • Chordophones: produce sound with vibrating strings stretched between two points
  • Idiophones: creates sound by the instrument itself vibrating, without the use of strings or membranes
  • Membranophones: produce sound with vibrating stretched membrane.


Japan: Shakuhachi & Koto

Australia: Didgeridoo

Scotland: Bagpipes

Portland: The Unipiper

India: Sitar

Russia: Balalaika

Hawaii: Ukulele

Japan Taiko Drums

Mali: Djembe

Everywhere: Cowbell

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
– A set of variations on a theme by baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
– Demonstrates the instruments of the orchestra from woodwinds to percussion

  • Theme: Tutti (all), woodwinds, brass, strings, then percussion
  • Variation A: Piccolo and flute 2:11
  • Variation B: Oboes 2:43
  • Variation C: Clarinets 3:38
  • Variation D: Bassoons 4:16
  • Variation E: Violins 5:07
  • Variation F: Violas 5:38
  • Variation G: Cellos 6:40
  • Variation H: Double basses 7:42
  • Variation I: Harp 8:44
  • Variation J: Horns 9:34
  • Variation K: Trumpets 10:20
  • Variation L: Trombones and bass tuba 10:51
  • Variation M: Percussion (timpani; bass drum & cymbals; tambourine & triangle; snare drum & wood block; xylophone; castanets & gong; whip; percussion tutti) 12:04
  • Fugue: Cycles through the instruments in order again 13:50

Preview of harmony:

Two versions of the same tune — how are they different?