5 Different Types of Musical Instruments

Have you ever thought about how musical instruments are grouped together? Well, there are five main types of musical instruments. Whether you're thinking about learning to play one or just curious, knowing about these groups can be helpful. 

If you are a beginner in the music industry, the following information can be quite helpful and inspiring. By exploring various types of musical instruments and the unique sounds they produce, you may discover something entirely unexpected. 

This comprehensive blog post will dive into the five main types of musical instruments and what makes each one unique. So, if you're keen on picking up a new instrument or simply want to broaden your musical knowledge, stick around! There's a lot to uncover about the musical instrument types and the cool stuff behind them.  

The History of Family of Musical Instruments    

Our journey through the history of musical instruments begins with the earliest known instruments, dating back to 40,000 years ago. These simple whistles and flutes were made from bone or wood and were likely used for rituals and ceremonies. 

Around 3,000 BC, civilisations in Egypt and Mesopotamia began crafting stringed instruments such as lyres and harps. These instruments added melody and complexity to the soundscapes of these cultures. As time passed, instruments continued to evolve. 

In the Middle Ages, Europe saw the emergence of the lute and viol, while bagpipes and shawms filled the air with lively melodies. During the Renaissance, there was a greater focus on harmony and melody, which led to the creation of the violin, viola, and cello. 

These instruments form the core of the modern orchestra. The era also witnessed the development of the harpsichord and clavichord, which would eventually lead to the creation of the piano. 

The 19th century brought about the invention of new instruments, such as the saxophone and accordion, while the 20th century saw the rise of the electric guitar and synthesiser, opening up new genres and sounds. 

Today, the family of musical instruments continue to evolve, with digital technology merging with traditional forms, creating endless possibilities for musical expression. 

From the ancient flute to the modern synthesiser, the journey of musical instrument families is a testament to human creativity and our enduring desire to make and share music. 

There are 5 main families of musical instruments typically defined by the sounds they produce: 

  • Strings family 
  • Woodwind family 
  • Brass family 
  • Percussion family 
  • Electronic family  

What are the 5 Main Types of Musical Instruments?

Since childhood, you might have come across the list of different types of musical instruments, but at what age did you realise each of them belongs to a specific class? 

This knowledge may not be commonly discussed in the music industry, but it can be helpful if you plan to pursue a career as a performing musician. 

1. String Instruments  

String instruments that fall under the string category are made up of a set of strings that produce sound and different pitches when they are pulled, hit, rubbed, or played with a bow. 

The length of the air column inside the instrument plays a significant role in determining the pitch of the sound produced. The thickness of the strings used in the instrument also affects the pitch to a great extent. 

Some examples of string instruments include the guitar, violin, mandolin, cello, harp, banjo, and double bass. 

Among all the string instruments, the guitar is the most commonly known and is comparatively easier to learn and play than others in this category. Therefore, it can be an excellent option for beginners who are starting to learn music. 

Advantages of Playing String Instruments  

Learning to play a stringed instrument is meant to increase your problem-solving and mathematical ability.  

  • Creates a favourable learning environment.  
  • Helps in attention and focus.  
  • Improves imagination.  
  • It serves as a stress reliever.  
  • Can affect mood and learning attitudes.  
  • Can help with cognitive recovery after a stroke. 

2. Woodwind Instruments   

Woodwind instruments are so named because they have a mouthpiece at one end that contains a single or double strip of thin wood called a reed. When air is blown across the reed, it vibrates and produces sound out of the other end of the instrument. 

All woodwind instruments require the use of the mouth to blow air into the instrument, which then splits the air into different holes that produce different sounds, depending on the instrument. 

The different sounds and frequencies are controlled by running your fingers along the holes at the top of the instrument. 

The most common examples of woodwind instruments are saxophones, flutes, clarinets, bassoons, piccolos, recorders, and harmonicas. 

Advantages of Playing Woodwind Instruments   

  • You may start learning to play a woodwind instrument at the age of 5.  
  • It will improve your breathing and lung capacity.  
  • It enhances your posture and may even work out your abdominal muscles because you have to activate them to play the instrument for a longer period.  
  • Improves hand-eye coordination.  

3. Brass Instruments 

Brass instruments are similar to wind instruments, but a few distinct differences set them apart. The main difference is that they are made of brass and are long and hollow, resembling a pipe. 

To play them, you blow into the mouthpiece, and most have valves that are pressed down to create musical notes. At the end is a bell-shaped opening through which sounds are produced. 

Some examples of brass instruments include French horns, trombones, trumpets, euphoniums, oboes, and clarinets.  

Advantages of Playing Brass Musical Instruments 

  • It will help you gain confidence and control over your breathing.  
  • Strengthens core muscles and helps with breathing control.  
  • Strengthens neuronal networks by improving hand-eye coordination.  
  • It strengthens your mental endurance.  
  • If you work in an orchestra, it teaches you how to get along with people.  

4. Percussion Instruments 

Percussion instruments are diverse types of music instruments that create sound when struck, shaken, rattled, or scraped with a stick, hand, or similar object. 

Some of the most commonly known percussion instruments include drums, cymbals, maracas, xylophones, triangles, tambourines, bass drums, chimes, timpani, and others. 

Percussion instruments can be classified into two main categories: pitched percussion instruments and unpitched percussion instruments.  

Pitched percussion instruments produce notes with an identifiable pitch, whereas unpitched percussion instruments generate notes with an indefinite pitch. This means that the pitch of sounds produced by such instruments cannot be identified. 

Advantages of Playing Percussion Musical Instruments 

  • Playing the drums is a high-energy activity that may be considered a workout.  
  • Coordination and motor abilities will increase.  
  • It encourages social engagement with others.  
  • Allows for self-expression.  
  • Enhances brain growth.  
  • Therapeutic for depressed conditions.  

5. Electronic Instruments  

Electronic instruments are any musical instruments that create or alter sounds electronically.. This means that the composer determines the electronic element in the music and the sounds are produced or changed by electronic means. 

Even instruments like electric guitars that generate sound by acoustic or mechanical methods but amplify the sound electronically are considered electronic instruments. 

Although the construction and sound of these instruments are usually similar to their non-electronic counterparts.  

Advantages of Playing Electronic Instruments 

  • Electronic instruments are often much more affordable and portable. 
  • They offer an array of sounds and effects.  
  • Built-in learning features and feedback tools for effective learning. 
  • They help in stress reduction, improving cognitive function. 

Reasons Behind the Rise of Different Classification of Musical Instruments in Australia   

Australia has seen a surge in the popularity of learning different musical instrument types in recent years. 

This trend can be attributed to a variety of factors, including: 

  • Increased Focus on Wellbeing and Mental Health  

Studies have shown that playing music can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. This newfound awareness has led many individuals to seek music as a form of self-care and personal growth. 

  • Diversification of Music Styles and Genres  

Australian music has become increasingly diverse and vibrant in recent years, encompassing a wide range of styles and genres. 

The exposure to different musical styles has sparked curiosity and interest in learning instruments associated with these genres, leading to a wider range of musical pursuits. 

  • Technological Advancements and Accessibility  

Technological advancements have made easy to learn classification of musical instruments and more accessible than ever before. 

Renting musical instruments has lowered barriers to entry and provided flexible learning options for busy individuals. 

  • Emphasis on Community and Connection  

Music can be a powerful tool for building community and fostering connection. Joining a band, orchestra, or ensemble provides opportunities for social interaction, collaboration, and shared experiences. 

This sense of community and belonging is particularly useful in a world increasingly dominated by digital interaction. 

Final Thoughts   

Encouraging young people to take up music and learn different types of musical instruments at an early age is significantly important. 

Studies have shown that playing an instrument has numerous benefits, such as increasing cognitive ability, reducing stress, improving social interaction, and enhancing math and language skills.  

This goes for older people, too. It is never too late to learn a new skill or instrument. So why wait? Rent musical instruments online from InstruShare today!  

The flexibility of short- or long-term rentals, reasonable pricing, and reliable customer support make InstruShare an excellent choice for individuals and seasoned music enthusiasts seeking hassle-free access to a wide variety of musical instruments.