21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (2023)

Music is a form of art, which derives from the Greek word meaning "art of the Muses." In ancient Greece, the Muses were the goddesses who inspired the arts, such as literature, music, and poetry.

Music has been performed since the dawn of human time with instruments and through vocal song.While it is not certain how or when the first musical instrument was invented, most historians point to early flutes made from animal bones that are at least 37,000 years old.The oldest known written songdates back 4,000 years and was writtenin ancient cuneiform.

Instruments were created to make musical sounds. Any object that produces sound can be considered amusical instrument, most particularly, if it was designed for that purpose. Take a look at the various instruments that have cropped up over the centuries from different parts of the world.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (1)

Anaccordion is aninstrument that uses reeds and air to create sound. Reeds are thin strips of material that air passes over to vibrate, which in turn creates a sound. The air is produced by a bellows, a device that produces a strong blast of air, such as a compressed bag. The accordion is played by pressing and expanding the air bellowswhile the musician presses buttons and keys to force the air across reeds of varying pitches and tones.

Conductor's Baton

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (2)

In the 1820s, Louis Spohr introduced the conductor's baton.Abaton, which is the Frenchword for"stick," ​is used byconductorsprimarily 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.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (3)

Bells may be categorized as idiophones, or instruments sounding by the vibration of resonant solid material, and more broadly as percussion instruments.
The bells at the Agia Triada Monastery in Athens, Greece,are a good example of how bells have been associated with religious rituals over the centuries and are still used today to call communities together for religious services.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (4)

The clarinet's predecessor was the chalumeau, the first true single reed instrument. Johann Christoph Denner, a famous German woodwind instrument maker of theBaroqueera, is credited as the inventor of the clarinet.


Double Bass

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (5)

The double bass goes by many names: the bass, contrabass, bass violin, upright bass, and bass, to name a few. The earliest known double-bass-type of instrument dates back to 1516. Domenico Dragonetti was the first great virtuoso of the instrument and largely responsible for the double bass joining the orchestra. The double bassis the largest and lowest-pitchedbowedstring instrumentin the modernsymphony orchestra.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (6)

The name "dulcimer" comes from the Latin and Greek words dulce and melos, which combine to mean "sweet tune." A dulcimer comes from the zither family of stringed instruments that consist of many strings stretched across a thin, flat body. A hammered dulcimer has many strings struck by handheld hammers. Being a struck string instrument, it is considered to be among the ancestors of the piano.

Electric Organ

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (7)

The immediate predecessor of the electronic organ was the harmonium,orreed organ, an instrument that was very popular in homes and small churches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a fashion not totally unlike that of pipe organs, reed organs generated sound by forcing air over a set of reeds by means of a bellows, usually operated by constantly pumping a set of pedals.

Canadian Morse Robb patented the world's first electric organ in 1928, known as the Robb Wave Organ.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (8)

The flute is the earliest instrument that we have archaeologically found that dates to Paleolithictimes, more than 35,000 years ago. The flute belongs to the woodwind instruments, but unlike other woodwinds that use reeds, the flute is reedless and produces its sounds from the flow of air across an opening.

An early flute found in China was called ach'ie. Many ancient cultures have some form of flute passed down through history.

French Horn

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (9)


The modern orchestral brass double French horn was an invention based on early hunting horns. Horns were first used as musical instruments during 16th-century operas. German Fritz Kruspe has been credited most often as the inventor in 1900 of the modern double French horn.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (10)

The guitar is a fretted string instrument, classified as a chordophone, with anywhere from four to 18 strings, usually having six. The sound is projected acoustically through a hollow wooden or plastic body or through an electrical amplifier and speaker. It is typically playedby strumming or plucking the strings with one hand while the other hand presses strings along frets — raised strips that change the tone of a sound.

A 3,000-year-old stone carving shows a Hittite bard playing a stringed chordophone, most likely a predecessor of the modern-day guitar. Other earlier examples of chordophones include the European lute and the four-string oud, which the Moors brought to the Spanish peninsula. The modern guitar likely originated in medieval Spain.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (11)

A harpsichord, the predecessor of the piano, is played by the use of a keyboard, which haslevers that a player presses to produce a sound. When the player presses one or more keys, this triggers a mechanism, which plucks one or more strings with a small quill.

The ancestor of the harpsichord, circa 1300, was most likely a handheld plucked instrument called the psaltery, which later had a keyboard added to it.

The harpsichord was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Its popularity diminished with the development of the piano in 1700.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (12)

Ametronomeis a device that produces an audible beat — a click or other sound — at regular intervals that the user can set inbeats per minute.Musiciansuse the device to practice playing to a regularpulse.

In 1696 French musician Etienne Loulie made the first recorded attempt to apply the pendulum to a metronome, although the first working metronome did not come into existence until 1814.

Moog Synthesizer

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (13)

(Video) 10 Musical Instruments You Didn't Know Where Invented In Africa

Robert Moog designed his first electronic synthesizers in collaboration with composers Herbert A. Deutsch and Walter Carlos. Synthesizers are used to imitatesounds of otherinstruments like pianos, flutes, or organs or make new sounds generated electronically.

Moogsynthesizers used analogcircuits and signals in the 1960s to create a unique sound.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (14)

The oboe, called a hautbois prior to 1770 (meaning "loud or high wood" in French), was invented in the 17th century by the French musicians Jean Hotteterre and Michel Danican Philidor. The oboe isa double-reededwood instrument.It was the main melody instrument in early military bands until succeeded by theclarinet.The oboe evolved from the shawm, a double-reed instrument most likely originated from the eastern Mediterranean region.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (15)

The ceramic ocarina is a musical wind instrument that is a type of vessel flute, derived from ancient wind instruments.Italian inventor Giuseppe Donati developed the modern 10-hole ocarina in 1853. Variations exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to 12 finger holes and amouthpiecethat projects from the instrument's body. Ocarinas are traditionally made from clay orceramic, but other materials are also used—such as plastic, wood, glass, metal or bone.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (16)

The piano is an acoustic stringed instrument invented around the year 1700, most likely by Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy. It is played by using fingers on a keyboard, causing hammers within the piano body to strike the strings. The Italian word piano is a shortened form of the Italian word pianoforte, which means both "soft" and "loud," respectively. Its predecessor was the harpsichord.

Early Synthesizer

21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (17)

Hugh Le Caine, Canadian physicist, composer, and instrument builder, built the world's first voltage-controlled music synthesizer in 1945, called the Electronic Sackbut. The player used the left hand to modify the sound while the right hand was used to play thekeyboard. Over his lifetime, Le Caine designed 22 musical instruments, including a touch-sensitive keyboard and variable-speed multitrack tape recorder.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (18)


The saxophone, also called a sax, belongs to the woodwind family of instruments. It is usually made of brass and is played with a single, wood reed mouthpiece, similar to a clarinet.Like the clarinet, saxophones have holes in the instrument that the player operates using a system of key levers. When the musician presses a key, a pad either covers or lifts off a hole, thus lowering or raising the pitch.

The saxophone was invented by Belgian Adolphe Sax and exhibited to the world for the first time at the 1841 Brussels Exhibition.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (19)

The trombonebelongs to the brass family of instruments.Like all brass instruments, the sound is produced when the player's vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate.

Trombones use atelescopingslide mechanism that varies the length of the instrument to change the pitch.

The word "trombone" comes from the Italian tromba, meaning "trumpet," and the Italian suffix -one, meaning "large." Therefore, the instrument name means "large trumpet." In English, the instrument was called a "sackbut." It made its initial appearance in the 15th century.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (20)

Trumpet-like instruments have historically been used as signaling devices in battle or hunting, with examples dating back to at least 1500BCE, using animal horns or conch shells.The modern valve trumpet has evolved more than any other instrument still in use.

Trumpets are brass instruments that were recognized as musical instruments only in the late 14th or early 15th century.Mozart's father, Leopold, and Haydn's brother Michael wrote concertos exclusively for the trumpet in the second half of the 18th century.


21 Musical Instruments and How They Were Invented (21)

The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, the sound is produced by moving air past the lips, causing them to vibrate into a large cupped mouthpiece.

Modern tubas owe their existence to the joint patent of the valve in 1818 by two Germans: Friedrich Blühmel andHeinrich Stölzel.


How were musical instruments invented? ›

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. Primitive instruments were probably designed to emulate natural sounds, and their purpose was ritual rather than entertainment.

What was the first musical instrument invented? ›

The oldest musical instrument in the world, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute is a treasure of global significance. It was discovered in Divje babe cave near Cerkno and has been declared by experts to have been made by Neanderthals.

What musical instruments were invented in the 20th century? ›

It is important to note that the steel pan is the only new instrument invented in the 20th century and characterizes the music not only of its original Trinidad and Tobago but also of the entire Caribbean. The steel pans were donated to the United Nations on the occasion of the organization's 50th anniversary.

What are the 5 main types of musical instruments? ›

Instruments are classified using 5 different categories depending on the manner in which the instrument creates the sound: Idiophones, Membranophones, Chordophones, Aerophones, & Electrophones.

What is the name of all instruments? ›

List of 60+ Musical Instruments Names
TambourineTromboneElectronic drums
Drum padClarinetTuba
Bass drumSnare drumPiccolo
11 more rows

How many musical instruments are there? ›

It is estimated that there are over 1500 different musical instruments in the world. These instruments are segregated into different categories that include woodwind, percussion, brass, keyboard, and the guitar family.

What is the oldest instrument ever found? ›

The discovery pushes back humanity's musical roots. A vulture-bone flute discovered in a European cave is likely the world's oldest recognizable musical instrument and pushes back humanity's musical roots, a new study says.

What is the oldest instrument still in use? ›

Archaeologists have found a pre-historic instrument carved from cave bear bones, and it can still be played today. The Neanderthal Flute, found in the cave of Divje Babe in Slovenia, is thought to date back at least 50,000 years, making it the oldest known musical instrument in the world.

Is the voice the oldest instrument? ›

Singing, the vocal production of musical tones, is so basic to man its origins are long lost in antiquity and predate the development of spoken language. The voice is presumed to be the original musical instrument, and there is no human culture, no matter how remote or isolated, that does not sing.

What instruments were invented in the 2000s? ›

Pages in category "Musical instruments invented in the 2000s"
  • Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass.
  • Fender Zone Bass.

What instruments were invented in the 1950s? ›

Pages in category "Musical instruments invented in the 1950s"
  • Fender Bandmaster.
  • Fender Duo-Sonic.
  • Fender Esquire.
  • Fender Jazzmaster.
  • Fender Musicmaster.
  • Fender Precision Bass.
  • Fender Stratocaster.
  • Fender Telecaster.

What instruments were invented in the 1800s? ›

These ensembles included, but were not limited to: flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombones, French horns, tubas, and a variety of percussion instruments. Their rise, however, was astonishing to some musical purists.

What is the longest named instrument? ›

The longest name for a musical instrument may be the Orthotonophonium. A German reed organ.

What are 2 traditional instruments? ›

Almost every material in nature was used by at least one society to make musical instruments. Every nation has a traditional musical instrument such as kanun, ney, flute, saz, darbuka, tambour, and kemancha.

What are the 6 families of instruments? ›

The great majority of musical instruments fall readily into one of six major categories: bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family, the first four of which form the basis of the modern symphony orchestra.

Who played 27 different instruments? ›

On his debut album For You, released when he was 20, Prince is said to have played every single instrument: 27 in all.

What are the 27 instruments Prince played? ›

For all the music heads out there, he is credited with: 'all vocals', not forgetting 'deep breaths', as well as 'electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, bass synth, singing bass, Fuzz bass, electric piano, acoustic piano, mini-Moog, poly-Moog, Arp string ensemble, Arp Pro Soloist, Oberheim four-voice, clavinet, drums, ...

What is the queen of all instruments? ›

The organ is rightly called the “Queen of Instruments”.

What are the 9 instruments? ›

9 Typical Musical Instruments Of India
  • Mridangam.
  • Sitar.
  • Sarod.
  • Tabla.
  • Harmonium.
  • Tanpura.
  • Vina.
  • Shehnai.

How many unique instruments are there? ›

5 Tuneful Origins of Celebrated Musical Instruments – Did you know there are over 1,500 musical instruments? These musical instruments are broken down into six major categories. The musical instrument categories include bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family.

What is the smallest instrument ever? ›

The smallest instrument ever created had to be made in a science lab it's so miniscule. It's called the nano harp. It's made out of a single piece of silicon and is around 140 atoms thick.

What is 60000 year old flute? ›

The instrument was discovered in a cave called “Divje Babe” which overlooks the Idrijca River in Slovenia. The Neanderthal flute is now a treasure of global significance having been declared by experts to have been made by Neanderthals – hence the name. This flute was made from the bone of a young cave bear.

Who was the 1st voice? ›

The Voice (American season 1)
The Voice
WinnerJavier Colon
Winning coachAdam Levine
Runner-upDia Frampton
10 more rows

Did humans sing before instruments? ›

Our ancestors may have been singing tunes for as long as they were able to speak. The oldest discovered musical instruments in the world (flutes made of bones and mammoth ivory) are over 40,000 years old. But instruments and song may be far, far older.

What are the 4 human voices? ›

There are four basic types of voice: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Men's voices are deeper than women's because their vocal chords are longer.

What is the newest instrument invented? ›

What is the newest instrument 2022? The result is the Evolano — an “evolved piano.” The instrument has keys, action and hammers like a piano, aligned along a central ruler. The strings move with the keys, sliding over a curved fret that determines pitch.

Which new musical instrument was featured in the 80's? ›

Synths were everywhere in the '80s, and this synth was damned near ubiquitous. Unleashed in 1983, it featured Yamaha's all-digital FM synthesis and received a somewhat unfair reputation for being hard to program.

What instrument was invented in the 1920s? ›

Discovering the World's First Electronic Instrument

The theremin, also referred to as the thereminvox or etherophone, is an electronic musical instrument invented in a scientific laboratory in 1920 by Russian physicist Leon Theremin.

What instruments were invented in the 60s? ›

Pages in category "Musical instruments invented in the 1960s"
  • Fender Bass VI.
  • Fender Coronado.
  • Fender Electric XII.
  • Fender Jazz Bass.
  • Fender Mustang Bass.
  • Fender Telecaster Bass.

What instruments did they have in the 1920s? ›

Young and old were now hearing and playing such instruments as clarinet, saxophone, drums, trumpets, and trombones — with singers performing together in groups backed up jazzy upbeat tempos. With the increasing income of the "jazz age '20's", a new and exciting life style was emerging.

What instruments were used in the 60s? ›

The basis of a Rock Band is a Lead Singer, Drum Kit and Trio of Guitars: Lead Electric Guitar, Rhythm Guitar and Bass Guitar. The sound of Rock Music centres upon the Electric Guitar. Sometimes a Piano, Hammond Organ, Electric Keyboard/Synthesiser or Strings may be added or other (often strange!) timbres and effects!

What are the 18 music instruments? ›

Sanku, chengila, veekanchenda, edakka, thimila, maram (pani), shuddhamaddalam, chenda, kurumkuzhal, kombu, ilathalam, kuzhithalam, thoppimaddalam, Idumudi vriraanam, nanthuni, karadika and padaham are mentioned as the 18 instruments in some texts.

What instrument was invented in the 1700s? ›

The piano is an acoustic stringed instrument invented around the year 1700, most likely by Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy. It is played by using fingers on a keyboard, causing hammers within the piano body to strike the strings.

What instruments were invented in the 1700s? ›

The oboe was invented in the mid-17th century. The bassoon also dates from the mid-17th century. The clarinet was invented around 1700. Then around 1711, Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano.

What is the rarest instrument? ›

The hydraulophone is one of the rarest musical instruments in the world. This instrument is a sensory device that is primarily designed for low vision musicians. This tonal acoustic instrument is played by direct contact with water or other fluids.

What is the loudest instrument ever? ›

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the loudest (and largest) instrument in the world is the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ. This pipe organ was built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company, and is housed in the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

What instrument that has 24 holes? ›

The body is a 24-hole diatonic harmonica that ranges from B2 to D6 (covering 3 octaves).

What are the 4 main types of musical instruments? ›

musical instrument, any device for producing a musical sound. The principal types of such instruments, classified by the method of producing sound, are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic.

What are the 5 most popular instruments from Africa? ›

Most widely spread and played instruments in Africa are the drum, the xylophone, the mbira, rattles and shakers.

What is a group of 7 instruments called? ›

In jazz, a septet is any group of seven players, usually containing a drum set, string bass or electric bass, and groups of one or two of the following instruments, guitar, piano, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, or trombone. See, for example, Miles Davis, and Chick Corea's 1984 album, Septet.

What is it called when 5 instruments play together? ›

Quintet—Quintets are five musicians performing together, pieces of music meant to be played by five musicians, or a piece of music that includes five instruments. For example, Schubert's Piano Quintet in A major is composed of a piano, bass, cello, violin, and viola.

What is the smallest instrument in an orchestra? ›

Answer and Explanation: The smallest instrument in a traditional orchestra is the piccolo. A piccolo is a flute but is much smaller in size. The piccolo is higher in pitch than the flue.

What is the origin of musical instruments? ›

While it is not certain how or when the first musical instrument was invented, most historians point to early flutes made from animal bones that are at least 37,000 years old. The oldest known written song dates back 4,000 years and was written in ancient cuneiform. Instruments were created to make musical sounds.

How was music first invented? ›

Our early ancestors may have created rhythmic music by clapping their hands. This may be linked to the earliest musical instruments, when somebody realized that smacking stones or sticks together doesn't hurt your hands as much.

How was music first discovered? ›

We don't know exactly how humans discovered their musical abilities. Evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists assume that early humans were fascinated by how birds used their song to communicate and then imitated the melodic form of expression: as a warning, to inform, while hunting and on expeditions.

When did humans start making instruments? ›

By 40,000 years ago, humans were creating musical instruments and two- and three-dimensional images of the world around them.

What is the oldest known musical instrument? ›

Flute fragments found earlier at the nearby site of Geissenklösterle have been dated to around 35,000 years ago. The newfound flutes, though, "date to the very period of settlement in the region by modern humans ... about 40,000 years ago," Conard said.

Did humans sing before speaking? ›

Even Charles Darwin "talked about our ancestors singing love songs to each other before we could speak articulate language," Patel says. And musical ability is similar to language in that you can see aspects of it in other species.

Who invented the piano? ›

The first true piano was invented almost entirely by one man—Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) of Padua, who had been appointed in 1688 to the Florentine court of Grand Prince Ferdinando de' Medici to care for its harpsichords and eventually for its entire collection of musical instruments.

Who invented guitar? ›

Electric guitar

Who invented flute? ›

Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) was a German inventor and musician best known for developing the modern flute and improved fingering system, known as the “Boehm system.” Boehm patented his new fingering system in 1847.

When was the flute invented? ›

Flutes are the earliest known identifiable musical instruments, as paleolithic examples with hand-bored holes have been found. A number of flutes dating to about 53,000 to 45,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Jura region of present-day Germany.

Where did music begin? ›

It is in the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, from the Aurignacian period, which starts around 43,000 BP in eastern Europe and around 40,000 in the west, to the Magdalenian and later, ending around 10,000 BP, which we have a very considerable number of instruments, plus a few representations.


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