An idiophone is any
musical instrumentwhich creates sound primarily by way of the instrument vibrating itself, without the use of strings or membranes. It is one of the four main divisions in the original Hornbostel-Sachsscheme of musical instrument classification. Idiophones are probably the oldest type of musical instrument (not counting the human voice).In the early classification of Victor-Charles Mahillon, this group of instruments was called autophones.
percussion instruments which are not drums are idiophones. Hornbostel-Sachs divides idiophones into four main sub-categories. The first division is the struck idiophones (sometimes called concussion idiophones). This includes most of the non-drum percussion instruments familiar in the west. They include all idiophones which are made to vibrate by being hit, either directly with a stick or hand (like the wood block, singing bowl, triangle or marimba), or indirectly, by way of a scraping or shaking motion (like maracas or flexatone). Various types of bells fall into both categories.
The other three sub-divisions are rarer. They are plucked idiophones, such as the
jew's harp, amplified cactus, music boxor mbira(thumb piano); blown idiophones, of which there are a very small number of examples, the Aeolsklavierbeing one; and friction idiophones, such as the singing bowl, glass harmonica, glass harp, turntable, verrophone, daxophone, styrophone, musical saw, or nail violin(a number of pieces of metal or wood rubbed with a bow). Other classifications use six main sub-categories, Concussion, Percussion, Rattle, Scraper, Plucked and Friction Idophones. [Don Michael Rendel, ed., "The New Harvard Dictionary of Music", 1986]
A number of idiophones that are normally struck, such as
vibraphonebars and cymbals, can also be bowed.
Mallet-struck tuned percussion
A number of instruments fall into a sub-class within this group, and relate directly to the classification,
tuned percussion. They are struck with mallets or with sticks.
celesta, a keyboard-operated idiophone
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