Interesting facts about musical instruments

A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds.

A musical instrument is used to make musical sounds. Once humans moved from making sounds with their bodies — for example, by clapping—to using objects to create music from sounds, musical instruments were born.

In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument.

Musical instruments are constructed in a broad array of styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from “found objects” such as shells and plant parts. As instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of materials. Virtually every material in nature has been used by at least one culture to make musical instruments. One plays a musical instrument by interacting with it in some way — for example, by plucking the strings on a string instrument, striking the surface of a drum, or blowing into an animal horn.

The date and origin of the first device considered a musical instrument is disputed.

The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years. Some consensus dates early flutes to about 37,000 years ago. However, most historians believe that determining a specific time of musical instrument invention is impossible, as many early musical instruments were made from animal skins, bone, wood, and other non-durable materials.

Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations caused rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin.

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Jubal was named by the Bible as the inventor of musical instruments (Gen. 4:21). The Hebrews were much given to the cultivation of music. Their whole history and literature afford abundant evidence of this.

The Egyptians played many instruments. They played castanets, drums, and bells. They also played stringed instruments like the harp, the lyre (a kind of vertical harp), and the lute. They also played wind instruments like flutes and trumpets. The Egyptians also played a rattle called a sistrum.

The Greeks played stringed instruments like the harp and the lyre. They also played a large lyre called a Kithara. Its strings were plucked with a plectrum. The Greeks also played wind instruments like the syrinx
or panpipes, which were made of reeds of different lengths. They also played cymbals.

The Romans had similar musical instruments, the lyre, and harp, the trumpet, and flutes. The Romans also played the bagpipes and they made organs. In ancient times people played animal horns but in Bronze Age Scandinavia they played metal horns called lurs.

By 1400, musical instrument development slowed in many areas and was dominated by the Occident. During the Classical and Romantic periods of music, lasting from roughly 1750 to 1900, many new musical instruments were developed.

While the evolution of traditional musical instruments slowed beginning in the 20th century, the proliferation of electricity led to the invention of new electric instruments, such as electric guitars, synthesizers and the theremin.

The violin is the smallest and highest pitched string instrument typically used in western music. It is probably the best known and most widely distributed musical instrument in the world. Similar string instruments to violin have been around for almost 1000 years.

Mozart used the violin to perform and compose with, and was a personal favourite. He liked to have a good number of instruments lying around his music room and owned a number of violins.

The most expensive musical instrument sold at auction is the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius violin and was sold at £9,808,000 ($15,875,800) by Tarisio Auctions (USA) in London, UK, on 20 June 2011. The auction was organised online on behalf of the Nippon Music Foundation and the proceeds went to the Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

The piano was invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain). The first time the piano was played in a public concert in London was in 1768 when it was played by Johann Christian Bach.

Pianos can have over 12,000 individual parts, supporting six functional features: keyboard, hammers, dampers, bridge, soundboard, and strings.

Currently the most expensive piano available on the market is Steinway painted by artist Paul Wyse. It’s $2.5 million price tag while steep is clearly evident in the opulent details of the artwork. The name of the piano refers to the seminal composition of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky called Pictures at an Exhibition and literally reperesents the visitor’s expirience of going from one picture to the another.

Drums are the world’s oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. They appear with wide geographic distribution in archaeological excavations from Neolithic times onward – one excavated in Moravia is dated to 6000 BC.

The guitar is an ancient and noble instrument, whose history can be traced back over 4000 years. The history of the guitar generally goes back to two instruments, the oud and the lute, which predate written history.

The trumpet is characterized by its striking, triumphal sound and by the fact that it boasts the highest register of all the brass instruments. The earliest trumpets date back to 1500 BC and earlier.

The advent of the accordion is the subject of debate among researchers. Many credit C. Friedrich L. Buschmann, whose Handäoline was patented in Berlin in 1822, as the inventor of the accordion, while others give the distinction to Cyril Demian of Vienna, who patented his Accordion in 1829, thus coining the name. A modification of the Handäoline, Demian’s invention comprised a small manual bellows and five keys, although, as Demian noted in a description of the instrument, extra keys could be incorporated into the design. Numerous variations of the device soon followed.

In the 1820s, Louis Spohr introduced the conductor’s baton. A baton, which is the French word for “stick,” is used by conductors primarily to enlarge and enhance the manual and bodily movements associated with directing an ensemble of musicians. Prior to its invention, conductors would often use a violin bow.