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UW Ethnomusicology Archives: Idiophones

The UW Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives has been col­lecting and curating unique ethnographic music recordings, films, and video since 1962.

Idiophones

What are idiophones?

Idiophones are instruments that create sound through vibrating themselves. They differ from chordophones and membranophones because the vibrating is not the result of strings or membranes. Under the Hornbostel-Sachs classifcation system, idiophones are further divided into struck idiophones and plucked idiophones. Stuck idiophones produce sound when they are struck either directly or indirectly (ie. xylophones and gendérs). Plucked idiophones produce sound when part of the instrument (not a string) is plucked. The mbira and the Jew's harp are good examples of plucked idiophones. 

Text adapted from: Sachs, Curt (1940). The History of Musical Instruments

Title image sources (left to right): dreamstime.com, youtube.com (#coolboy), youtube.com (eugene baylon jaceldo), wpr.org, youtube (Mart0zz)

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