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List of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number

Music Sound

List of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number

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The following is a list of musical instruments, categorized according to the Hornbostel-Sachs system by how they make sound.



1. Idiophones

Idiophones are instruments which make sound primarily by way of the instrument itself vibrating without the use of membranes or strings.


11. Struck idiophones

Idiophones set in motion by a percussion action, including 111. directly struck instruments, 112. indirectly strucked. With 112.1 shaken and 112.2 scraped.

  • Chimes
  • Fangxiang
    Ranat ek lek
    Ranat thum lek
    Steelpan (steel drum)
    Toy piano
  • Vibraphone
  • Washboard

12. Plucked idiophones

Instruments set into vibration by plucking.

13. Friction idiophones

Instruments set into vibration by rubbing.

  • Glass harmonica
    Musical Saw
    Nail violin

14. Blown idiophones

Instruments set into vibration by blowing or moving air.

  • Aeolsklavier

2. Membranophones

Membranophones are instruments which make sound primarily by way of a vibrating membrane. This includes all drums.

21. Struck drums

  • Bass drum
    Bongo drum
  • Conga
  • Kettle drum
    O Daiko
    Snare drum
  • Tambourine (the jingles also make this an idiophone)
  • Timpani
  • Tom-Tom

22. Plucked drums

Some commentators believe that instruments in this class ought instead to be regarded as chordophones (see below).

23. Friction drums

  • Cuíca

24. Singing membranes

Instruments in which a membrane modifies some other sound (typically the human voice) in some way (mirlitons).

  • Kazoos

3. Chordophones

Chordophones are instruments that produce sound primarily by the vibration of a string or strings.

  • Gayageum

31. Simple chordophones

Instruments consisting of a simple string bearer and strings - there may be an additional resonator, but removing it should not destroy the instrument (so the resonator should not be supporting the strings).

32. Composite chordophones

Instruments in which the resonator cannot be removed without destruction of the instrument.

4. Aerophones

Aerophones are instruments in which the vibrating air itself is the primary cause of sound. This can include a column of air being set in vibration (as in wind instruments) or an air-flow being interrupted by an edge (as in free-reeds).

41. Free aerophones

The vibrating air is not contained within the instrument.

  • old car horn
  • Bullroarer
  • Siren
  • Whip
    Lasso d'amore
412.13. Free-reed instruments

Free-reed instruments feature a reed which vibrates within a closely fitting slot (there may be an attached pipe, but it should only vibrate in sympathy with the reed, and not have an effect on the pitch - instruments of this class can be distinguished from 422.3 by the lack of finger-holes).

413. Plosive aerophones

The sound is caused by a single compression and release of air.

  • Udu "drum" or kimkim

42. Non-free aerophones (wind instruments proper)

The vibrating air is contained within the instrument.

421. Edge-blown instruments or flutes

The player makes a ribbon-shaped flow of air with his lips, or his breath is directed against an edge.

422. Reed instruments

The player's breath is directed against a lamella or pair of lamellae which periodically interrupt the airflow and cause the air to be set in motion.

422.1 Double reed instruments

There are two lamellae which beat against one another.

422.111 With cylindrical bore
  • Cornamuse
422.112 With conical bore
  • Oboe
    • Musette (modern small oboe in e-flat)
      Oboe d'amore
      Cor anglais / English horn (same instrument)
      Bass Oboe / Baritone Oboe (same instrument)
  • Bassoon
    • Tenoroon
  • Bombarde
  • Sarrusophone
    • Sopranino Sarrusophone
      Soprano Sarrusophone
      Alto Sarrusophone
      Tenor Sarrusophone
      Baritone Sarrusophone
      Bass Sarrusophone
      Contrabass Sarrusophone
  • Tarogato (traditional))
  • Bagpipes:
    • Great Highland Bagpipe
      Uilleann pipes
      Northumbrian Smallpipes
      Musette de cour
422.2 Single reed instruments (clarinets)

There is one lamella which beats against a solid surface.

422.211.2 Single clarinets, cylindrical bore, with fingerholes
  • Clarinets
    • Piccolo clarinet (A-flat clarinet)
      Sopranino clarinet (E-flat clarinet, D clarinet)
      Soprano clarinet (C clarinet, B-flat clarinet, A clarinet, G clarinet)
      Basset clarinet
      Basset horn
      Alto clarinet
      Bass clarinet
      Contra-alto clarinet
      Contrabass clarinet
      Octocontra-alto clarinet
      Octocontrabass clarinet
  • Bagpipes:
    • Duda
      Swedish bagpipes
    • (see also main article "Types of bagpipes" for many others)
  • Experimental:
    • Folgerphone
422.212 Conical bore
  • Octavin
  • Saxophone
    • Soprillo
      Sopranino saxophone
      Soprano saxophone
      F mezzo-soprano saxophone
      Alto saxophone
      Tenor saxophone
      C melody saxophone
      Baritone saxophone
      Bass saxophone
      Contrabass saxophone
      Subcontrabass saxophone
  • Tarogato (modern)
422.22 Sets of clarinets
  • Zummara (Double Clarinet)

Similar to the free-reeds with a pipe attached - distinguished from them by the presence of finger-holes in the pipe.

423. Trumpets

The player's vibrating lips set the air in motion.

423.1 Natural trumpets

There are no means of changing the pitch apart from the player's lips.

  • Bugle
    Natural trumpet
    Natural horn
423.2 Chromatic trumpets

The pitch can be changed by means of keys (423.21) a slide (423.22) or valves (423.23).

5. Electrophones

Electrophones are instruments in which sound is generated by electrical means. While it is not officially in any published form of the Hornbostel-Sachs system, and hence, lacking proper numerical subdivisions, it is often considered a fifth main category.

External links

  Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification  
Idiophone | Membranophone | Chordophone | Aerophone | Electrophone

List of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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