Tuesday, October 27, 2009



The drum is a member of the percussion group of music instruments, technically classified as a membranophone Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with parts of a player's body, or with some sort of implement such as a drumstick, to produce sound. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, such as the "Thumb roll". Drums are the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.


The shell almost invariably has a circular opening over which the drumhead is stretched, but the shape of the remainder of the shell varies widely. In the western musical tradition, the most usual shape is a cylinder, although timpani, for example, use bowl-shaped shells. Other shapes include a frame design, truncated cones, goblet shaped, and joined truncated cones

Sound of a drum

Several factors determine the sound a drum produces, including the type, shape and construction of the drum shell, the type of drum heads it has, and the tension of these drumheads. Different drum sounds have different uses in music. Take, for example, the modern Tom-tom drum. A jazz drummer may want drums that sound crisp, clean, and a little on the soft side, whereas a rock and roll drummer may prefer drums that sound loud and deep. Since these drummers want different sounds, their drums will be constructed a little differently.



The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening.

Categories of flute

In its most basic form, a flute can be an open tube which is blown like a bottle. There are several broad classes of flutes. With most flutes, the musician blows directly across the edge of the mouthpiece.

Another division is between side-blown flutes, such as the Western concert flute, piccolo, fife, daze, and bansuri; and end-blown flutes, such as the ney, xiao, kaval, danso, shakuhachi, Anasazi flute, and quena.
The Western concert flutes
The Indian bamboo flute
Chinese flute
Japanese flute



The guitar is a musical instrument with ancient roots that adapts readily to a wide variety of musical styles. It typically has six strings, but four-, seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-, eleven-, twelve-, thirteen- and eighteen-string guitars also exist. The size and shape of the neck and the base of the guitar also vary, producing a variety of sounds.

Types of guitars
  • Acoustic guitars
  • Renaissance and Baroque guitars
  • Classical guitars
  • The modern Ten-string guitar
  • Portuguese guitar
  • Flat-top guitars
  • Archtop guitars
  • Selmer-Maccaferri guitars
  • Resonator, resophonic or Dobro guitars
  • 12-string guitars
  • Russian guitars
  • Acoustic bass guitars
  • Guitarrón
  • Tenor guitars
  • Harp guitars
  • Extended-range guitars
  • Guitar battente
  • Electric guitars



A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air, supplied by foot-operated or hand-operated bellows, being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion.


Harmoniums consist of banks of brass reeds, a pumping apparatus, stops for drones and a keyboard. The harmonium's timbre, despite its similarity to the accordion's, is actually produced in a critically different way.
There is some discussion of Indian harmonium-makers producing reproductions of Western-style reed organs for the export trade.

Shruti harmonium
The 22-śruti harmonium
Dr. Vidyadhar Oke has developed a 22-shruti harmonium,


Samvadini - a modified version of harmonium to perform solo on the instrument.
Pt. Bhishmadev Vedi is said to have been the first to contemplate improving the instrument by augmenting it with a string box like a harp attached to the top of the instrument.



The melodica, also known as the 'blow-organ' is a free-reed instrument similar to the accordion and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard is usually two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small and light enough to be carried around.

Types of melodicas

Melodicas are classified primarily by the range of the instrument. Melodicas with different ranges have slightly different shapes.

  • Soprano and alto melodicas are higher-pitched and thinner sounding than tenors. Some are designed to be played with both hands at once; the left hand plays the black keys, and the right hand plays the white keys. Others are played like the tenor melodica.
  • Tenor melodicas are a lower-pitched type of melodica. The left hand holds a handle on the bottom, and the right hand plays the keyboard. Tenor melodicas can be played with two hands by inserting a tube into the mouthpiece hole and placing the melodica on a flat surface.
  • Bass melodicas also exist, but are less common than other types.
  • The accordina uses the same mechanism, but with accordion-like buttons instead of keys.

Alternate names

The melodica is known by various names, often at the whim of the manufacturer. Melodion ,Melodika, Melodia, Pianica, Melodihorn and Clavietta are just some of the variants.



The saxophone is a conical-bored transposing musical instrument considered a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and are played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet.
While proving very popular in its intended niche of military band music, the saxophone is most commonly associated with popular music, big band music, blues, early rock and roll, ska and particularly jazz.


Most saxophones, both past and present, are made from brass. Despite this, they are categorized as woodwind instruments rather than brass because the sound waves are produced by an oscillating reed, not the player's lips against a mouthpiece as in a brass instrument, and because different pitches are produced by opening and closing keys. Brass is used to make the body of the instrument; the pad cups; the rods that connect the pads to the keys; the keys themselves and the posts that hold the rods and keys in place.

Uses of the saxophone

The saxophone was originally patented as a group of 14 instruments in two families. The orchestral family consisted of instruments in the keys of C and F, and the military band family in E♭ and B♭. Each family consisted of sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass and contrabass instruments, alternating in transposition. While all seven members of the military band family are still relatively common, the orchestral group was less successful; Adolphe Sax's personal rivalry with influential German composer Wilhelm Wieprecht may have been partially responsible for the complete failure of the saxophone in orchestral music.



The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages. It derives its resonance from sympathetic strings, a long hollow neck and a gourd resonating chamber.


The instrument should be balanced between the player's left foot and right knee. The hands should move freely without having to carry any of the instrument's weight. The player plucks the string using a metallic pick or plectrum called a mezrab. The thumb should stay anchored on the top of the fretboard just above the main gourd. Generally only the index and middle fingers are used for fingering although a few players occasionally use the third. A specialized technique called "meend" involves pulling the main melody string down over the bottom portion of the sitar's curved frets, with which the sitarist can achieve a 7 semitone range of microtonal notes.


The surbahar is a larger sitar with a broader fret-board and thicker strings. It has a deeper tonal quality as it is tuned two to five whole steps below the normal sitar and the agile finger work characteristic of the sitar is not possible on this. A recent variant is the ranjan veena which uses a slide.



The tabla is a popular Indian percussion instrument used in the classical, popular and religious music of the Indian subcontinent and in Hindustani classical music. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which simply means "drum".

Nomenclature and construction

The smaller drum, played with the dominant hand, is sometimes called dayan but is correctly called the "tabla." It is made from a conical piece of mostly Teak and rosewood hollowed out to approximately half of its total depth. The drum is tuned to a specific note, usually either the tonic, dominant or subdominant of the soloist's key and thus complements the melody. The tuning range is limited although different dāyāñ-s are produced in different sizes, each with a different range. Cylindrical wood blocks, known as ghatta, are inserted between the strap and the shell allowing tension to be adjusted by their vertical positioning. Fine tuning is achieved while striking vertically on the braided portion of the head using a small hammer.

Tabla terminology

• Ustad - a master of the tabla technique and gharana, or school. Hindus are referred to as Pandit.
• Gharana - any of the six schools of tabla.
• Syahi - the black spots on the tabla, also called gab. Composed of a dried paste derived from iron filings and applied in several separate layers to the head of the drum. Sometimes called the shyani.
• Keenar - the outer ring of skin on the head of each of the two tabla drums. In Hindi, known as the chat.
• Sur - The area between the gaab and the keenar. In Hindi, known as the maidan.
• bol - both mnemonic syllables and a series of notes produced when stroked. E.g. Na, tin, Dha, Dhin, Ge, Ke, etc.
• Theka - a standard series of bols that form the rhythmic basis of tabla accompaniment for a given tala.
• Rela - a sort of rapid drum-roll.
• Chutta - the cushions used when placing the tabla.
• Baj, Baaj, or Baaz - a style of playing, different from the gharānā. Two main styles developed, Purbi Baj and Dilli Baj. Dilli, or Delhi, baj is the style of bols and playing that originated in the city of Delhi. Purbi developed in the area east of delhi. Both have different ways to play bols.
• Bāyāñ or Duggi- The metal drum providing the bass notes in tabla.
Dayan ot Tabla - The wooden drum providing the treble notes in tabla.
• Lay tempo.
• Tala - meter.
• Vibhag Section of a tabla taal where bols can be placed.
• Thali - A vibhag signified by a clap.
• Khali - A vibhag signified by waving of the hands.
• Ghatta - Wooden dowels used to control the tension.



The tambura is a long necked plucked lute, a stringed instrument found in different versions in different places. The tambura, tamburo, or tanpura, in its bodily shape somewhat resembles the sitar, but it has no frets, as only the open strings are played as a harmonic accompaniment to the other musicians. It has four or five, wire strings, which are plucked one after another in a regular pattern to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note.

Tanpuras are designed in three different styles:

• Miraj style: the favourite form of tanpura for Hindustani performers. It is usually between three to five feet in length, with a well-rounded resonator plate and a long, hollow straight neck. The round lower chamber to which the tabli, the connecting heel-piece and the neck are fixed is actually a selected and dried gourd. Wood used is either tun or teak, bridges are usually cut from one piece of bone.

• Tanjore style: this is a south Indian style of tambura, used widely by Carnatic music performers. It has a somewhat different shape and style of decoration from that of the Miraj, but is otherwise much the same size. Typically, no gourd is used, but the spherical part is gouged out of a solid block of wood. The neck is somewhat smaller in diameter. Jackwood is used throughout, bridges are usually cut from one piece of rosewood. Often two rosettes are drilled out and ornamented with inlaywork.

• Tamburi: small-scale instruments, used for accompanying instrumental soloists. It is two to three feet long, with a flat bed-pan type wooden body with a slightly curved tabli. It may have from four to six strings. Tamburi are tuned to the higher octave and are the preferred instruments for accompanying solo-performances by string-playing artists, as the lighter, more transparent sound does not drown out the lower register of a sitar, sarod, or sarangi.



The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello

Construction and mechanics

A violin typically consists of a spruce top maple ribs and back, two endblocks, a neck, a bridge, a soundpost, four strings, and various fittings, optionally including a chinrest, which may attach directly over, or to the left of, the tailpiece. A distinctive feature of a violin body is its "hourglass" shape and the arching of its top and back. The hourglass shape comprises two upper bouts, two lower bouts, and two concave C-bouts at the "waist," providing clearance for the bow.
The "voice" of a violin depends on its shape, the wood it is made from, the graduation of both the top and back, and the varnish which coats its outside surface. The varnish and especially the wood continue to improve with age, making the fixed supply of old violins much sought-after.


Strings were first made of sheep gut, stretched, dried and twisted. Modern strings may be gut, solid steel, stranded steel, or various synthetic materials, wound with various metals, and sometimes plated with silver. Most E strings are unwound, either plain or gold-plated steel.

Pitch range

The compass of the violin is from G3 to C8. The top notes, however, are often produced by natural or artificial harmonics.


3D spectrum diagram of the overtones of a violin G string. Note that the pitch we hear is the peak around 200 Hz.
The arched shape, the thickness of the wood, and its physical qualities govern the sound of a violin. Patterns of the nodes made by sand or glitter sprinkled on the plates with the plate vibrated at certain frequencies, called "Chladni patterns," are occasionally used by luthiers to verify their work before assembling the instrument


Children typically use smaller string instruments than adults. Violins are made in so-called "fractional" sizes for young students: Apart from full-size (4/4) violins, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and even 1/32-sized instruments exist. Extremely small sizes were developed, along with the Suzuki program, for violin students as young as 3. Finely-made fractional sized violins, especially smaller than 1/2 size, are extremely rare or nonexistent. Such small instruments are typically intended for beginners needing a rugged violin, and whose rudimentary technique does not justify the expense of a more carefully made one.