8 Things You Should Know About Musical Instruments

Music is something that we cannot imagine our life without. Driving a car, watching movies, or even going to the mall seems kind of empty if there is no music involved. Not a lot of us know what all goes into making music. How much hard work, how many hours of practice, and failed attempts happen before a musician serves us their final piece.

Besides the process of making music, how much do we know about musical instruments? Do you ever think about how they are made, what materials are involved, and how are they played exactly? To help you understand the world of music just a little bit better, we have prepared a list of 8 things you should know about musical instruments. 

The piano is a percussion instrument

The piano is one of the most popular instruments among common people as well as professional musicians. A discussion that often appears in the world of music is whether the piano is a percussion or a string instrument. Even though pianos usually have from 220 to 230 strings, they are still a part of the percussion section within a symphony orchestra. The reason for this is the fact that the sound is produced by hammers hitting the strings. 

We can see similar construction in lyres or harps, where the strings are stretched between two points. In both cases, the strings produce sound when they vibrate. But unlike in the case of the piano, these vibrations in a harp and a lyre are created by plucking the strings.

Free reed instruments

Free-reed instruments might not be the most known term outside of the music world. Even though the term is not so popular, the instruments that fall into this group are. Free-reed instruments represent wind instruments that have flexible metal tongues or reeds. These are located in a wind chamber and are attached at one end to the stationary plate. When air is blown over this plate, the unattached end of the reed vibrates “freely”. 

Depending on the air pressure, the sound can be softer or louder. Some of the instruments that belong to this group are concertinas, harmonicas, and accordions. Of course, even among these instruments, there are many sub-groups. As subgroups for concertinas, there are the English, the duet, and the anglo concertina, all of which have specific benefits. As with any musical instrument subcategory, the differences sometimes lie in finesse, but they can be quite drastic as well.

Playing the violin burns calories

When you look at a violinist, it all kind of looks elegant and easy. But in reality, playing the violin is some hard work. You have to stand a lot and have a lot of strength in your arms and shoulders. Playing the violin burns quite a lot of calories, to be more precise – around 170 calories per hour. That is equivalent to one soft drink. So, if you were thinking about starting, among many benefits – get ready for some hard work and a lot of sore days in the beginning. 

The first guitar was made in Egypt

When you go to a concert, you probably never wonder how and when the instruments you are seeing were first created. A lot of instruments are quite old. One of those is a guitar. Even though today we would rather see it as a guitar-like instrument, we can say that the first guitar was created 3,500 years ago. 

This instrument belonged to a singer known as Har-Mose. It was made from polished cedar with a rawhide soundboard. Unlike today’s guitars which have 6 strings, they had only three. If you are a guitar enthusiast and you wish you could see this instrument in person, you actually can! What we consider the oldest guitar is on display in the Archaeological Museum in Cairo.

Why are piano keys black and white?

Most people know that the white keys on the piano represent the musical tones and that the black keys are the half-step intervals between those musical tones. But how many of us know why they are black and white? The colors come from the colors of the wood that was first used for making the keys. The white keys were made from ivory and the black keys from ebony. 

But the truth is that the colors of the keys used to be reversed. Since the black keys were right next to each other, it was hard for musicians to see the keys properly. So if you ever see an old piano, and the colors seem weird, know that that was not by accident.

The organ wasn’t always a church instrument

The instrument we see in a lot of catholic churches today was not always there. Even though most people today associate organs with a church setting, it was not introduced into churches until approximately 900 AD. During the 1100 years before its usual use in today’s world, it was played at games, banquets, and circuses. 

The drums had more uses than you think

Of course, the most common use of drums today is in music bands. A lot of people are aware of their use in sacred religious rituals. But, not many are aware of one of their earliest known functions, which was beating the drums for wars. 

Back in the day, people couldn’t communicate with the radio, cellphones, let alone the internet. In this era, drums played a crucial role in wars. The military used to use snares and its relatives to send coded messages to its soldiers. This type of communication was very important in medieval and Renaissance Europe. It is also said that people have used drums to send messages over long distances between villages in India and Africa as well.

Saxophones differ in jazz and classical music

Though the principles of the instrument are the same, the saxophones used in jazz and classical music are very different. In jazz, saxophones need to allow the player tremendous freedom of expression. This is why they usually prefer the ones with a larger bore. That raspy tone and cutting power of a jazz saxophone contribute largely to the texture of the music. On the other hand, in classical music, the musicians must perform with a lot of other instruments in the orchestra. This means that they need to have an instrument with a clean, refined tone and crisp articulation.

The world of music is beautiful and there are always new things you can find out. No matter if you want to find more about the music periods, the musicians, or the musical instruments. The information you can find is practically endless. Hopefully, our article has brought you a bit closer to a better understanding of musical instruments.