Classification of Musical Instruments

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					Classification of Musical
 Why is it important?
 Because it gives unique information on
  musical and cultural practices..
 They are tangible. Collected for
  centuries before sound recordings.
 A self-contained area within
  Ethnomusicology – separate from
  playing of instruments
Why is it so important?
 Classifications serve the purpose of enabling
  members of a culture to recognise
  fundamental musical, social, and other
  relations between the instruments and to
  formulate new myths or theories.
 Gender often plays a big role and instrument
  classification give all sorts of insights into
  musical traditions.
Early Systems
 Ancient Chinese – based on material –
  gourd, skin, bamboo, wood, stone,
  metal, clay, silk.
 Pre-1880s European – back to the
  Greeks and separation into wind and
  string. Then added percussion – with
  Virdung 1511, Agricola 1523, Praetorius
  1619, Mersenne 1630.
1880s and the Brussels
 Victor Charles Mahillon advocated a
  system based on materials made to
  sound in the first instance.
  Chordophones, Membraphones,
  Aerophones, Autophones (latter
  changed to Idiophones).
 Ideas taken up and developed by Sachs
  and Von Hornborstal.
Hornborstal Sachs System
 Mahaillon’s ideas added to the Dewey decimal
  system used by libraries.
 Each of the 4 (now 5 with electrophones) major areas
  – have sub areas based on the way they are made to
  sound . E.g. Aerophones divide into 6 major
  categories – Single Reed, Double Reed, Edge
  (whistle), Free Reed, Free Aerophones, Blow Hole;
  Strings divide into Zithers, Lutes, Lyres, Harps.
 The Dewey system allows new categories to be
  made. 1 = idiophones, 11 = struck idiophones, 111 =
  struck idiophones hit directly. A piano is 314.122-6-8
Problems with H/S
 Observant imposed not culture
 Not logical – lots of instruments fall into
  several major categories, ignored
  acoustical properties.
 Ignores the folk view
Proposed Systems since 1914
 Shaeffner 1932 system was based on
  medium – gas, solids (tensil, non-tensil,
  flexible); Galpin’s system, Hood’s based on
 Ethno-theories – aurally transmitted, natural
  and indigenous.
 Systems based on taxonomies and
  paradigms that are logical and symmetrical
  and which are specific to a culture
Ethno Theories – indigenous
 Downward/upward
 Based on numbers of levels/steps
 Symmetry
 Paradigms/mandola – chinese, indian,
E.g. the Are’are culture of Pacific – based on
  solo/ensemble; capacity to play a melody
  (equihephatonic, seconds or thirds; degree of
  magic; blown or beaten, all expressed in
  bamboo morphology – can be put together in
  a tree diagram or imperfect paradigm.

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