Types of instruments


Musical instruments, perhaps better than anything else, personify the character of a people. They are assigned an important role in rituals, dances, liturgies and virtually all ceremonies linked to the life cycle of traditional societies. Instruments contain valuable information on the social, religious, ethical and aesthetic values of the diverse cultures of the world.

The graceful shapes and perfect dimensions of certain instruments, added to the richness of their timbre, justify a science which generation after generation has never ceased to astound. All sonorous manifestations are a sign of life.

Our collection embraces folk and traditional instruments that have been used in the past or are presently being used by ethnic groups around the world.

Many cultures have abandoned the instruments that once formed part of their traditions, casting them aside for modern organological trends. In many cases, the only places such instruments can be found is in museums.

The instruments in this collection range from 200 years old to quite recent. Because of the materials used in constructing the instruments (reed, wood, leather, plant fibres, etc.), they tend to be particularly vulnerable to environmental conditions. Therefore, only in rare cases do we find older pieces.

The following criteria are considered when acquiring a piece:

  • Ethnomusicological value.
  • Aesthetic beauty.
  • State of preservation.
  • Peculiarity or 'rarity'.
  • Age.
  • Size and materials used.

The classification of musical instruments is based on the four main groups or families widely accepted in organology today. The scheme has proven to be the most appropriate for instructional purposes:

  • Idiophones: musical instruments which create sound by vibration of their own materials.
  • Membranophones: musical instruments whose sound is produced by a vibrating membrane.
  • Chordophones: musical instruments whose sound is produced by a vibrating string.
  • Aerophones: musical instrument which produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate.
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