Musical Instruments

A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified for the purpose of making music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument. The term "musical instrument", however, is generally reserved for items that have a specific musical purpose such as a piano. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology. Until the 19th century, written musical histories began with mythological accounts of how musical instruments were invented. Such accounts included Jubal, descendant of Cain and "father of all such as handle the harp and the organ"; Pan, inventor of the panpipes; and Mercury, who is said to have made a dried tortoise shell into the first lyre. Modern histories have replaced such mythology with anthropologically proven information.

Among the first devices external to the human body considered to be instruments are rattles, stampers, and various drums. These earliest instruments evolved due to the human motor impulse to add sound to emotional movements such as dancing. Eventually, some cultures assigned ritual functions to their musical instruments. Those cultures developed more complex percussion instruments and other instruments such as ribbon reeds, flutes, and trumpets. Some of these labels carry far different connotations from those used in modern day; early flutes and trumpets are so-labeled for their basic operation and function rather than any resemblance to modern instruments. Among early cultures for whom drums developed ritual, even sacred importance are the Chukchi people of the Russian Far East, the indigenous people of Melanesia, and many cultures of East Africa. One East African tribe, the Wahinda, even believed that seeing a drum would be fatal to any person other than the sultan. The bagpipe was an old North African instrument used by the destitute Berbers to collect charity. Nero, the Roman Emperor, imported it to Europe.

Did you find this review helpful?
Parent Categories
Related Links
Wikipedia article