Western musical instruments


1. Electric Guitar

The electric guitar originated after the 1920s under the influence of the popular Hawaiian guitar. As the Hawaiian guitar has no sound box, all of its strings and pickups are fixed on solid wood. During the 19th century, the guitar was an indispensable instrument for country music and jazz. But the guitar’s volume couldn’t compare with that of a violin or a saxophone, so it was always relegated to accompaniment. Between 1920 and 1930, people tried to install different kinds of “pick-ups” on the guitar to make it into a solo instrument. In the present day, the electric guitar is loved passionately by rock fans. We can say that without the electric guitar, there would be no rock music, not to speak of heavy metal. 

The electric guitar uses an amplifier to amplify the sound. There are two kinds of electric guitars. The semitone style has a hollow body. However, most electric guitars do not have a sound box but a solid body as base for the strings. Electronic pickups are installed, as well as controllers for tone and volume. 

A standard electric guitar has six strings. It is played with a pick or with the fingers. The bass guitar has 4 strings. It is tuned an octave lower than the four-string standard guitar. These two kinds of guitar are both popular in various types of modern music. 


2. Electric Drums

These are mesh-fabric drums, which are very responsive. They have COSM drum kit editing ability and a surprising quality of tone.

3. Digital Piano 

The 88-key digital piano is equipped with a progressive hammer action keyboard. It has a golden champagne exterior and excellent quality 3D-sampled piano tones. It has around 40 different instrument and drum tones built in, including jazz vocals, and rhythm and bass auto-accompaniment. It also has a three-track recorder and built-in echo, harmonic and Leslie effects.


4. Pianica

The pianica is a reed instrument that uses a keyboard to control the circulation of the air and produce sounds. The keyboard is the same as that on an organ, but much smaller. The pianica can be divided into bass, alto, and treble models. The bass is coarse-toned; the alto is feeble; and the treble is painfully shrill. It is the least expressive of the reed instruments, and since its reeds are thin, its tones are spoiled and off-key. Nevertheless, despite these defects, it is easy to play and the instrument itself is light and convenient to carry, so it remains popular.

5. Electronic Cymbals 

 

This 12-inch cymbal has a double-action impact detection system. Different tones are produced by striking the cymbal’s face and center. The tactile sensation when striking is identical to that produced from a traditional cymbal. It can even be struck muted, in the same way as a traditional cymbal.


6. Accordion

The accordion is played both solo and in ensemble. Accordions for solo performance have a keyboard on the right side that is the same as an organ’s. On the left side there are a number of keys and buttons that can control the harmonics, so it can easily play all kinds of chords. Though accordions for solo performances have a complete set of functions, they are much more expensive than ensemble instruments. Moreover, the buttons on such an accordion produce only subtle differences in tone. Thus, most children’s bands use ensemble accordions. These are identical to accordions for solo performance except that they lack the keys and buttons on the left-hand side. The style of the accordion keyboard is the same as that of the piano or the organ, but narrower and shallower. Accordions differ in sizes, as well as in registers. Since the instrument is played hanging on the chest from a belt, it cannot be too big or it will put too much pressure on the chest and stomach. Thus, the keyboard cannot have more than 41 keys.

7. Electronic Organ

The exterior appearance of this instrument, also known as an electronic keyboard, is like a regular organ. It is a type of electric instrument that uses an integrated circuit to magnify the musical signal, then sends it through an amplifier producing a stereo effect. Though it can imitate the tones of other instruments, it cannot replace them because of audio differences. Neither the tempo nor volume of individual sounds in preset dance rhythms on an electronic organ can be adjusted to limit its range of performances.


8. Triangle 

The triangle is an atonal percussion instrument – one with no fixed pitch. It is made from a steel bar bent into a triangular shape. One angle of the triangle is left open to avoid an unusual pitch. When it is struck with an iron rod, there is a clear “ding” sound. It is hung from a catgut or nylon cord. To stop the sound, you press the steel bar with your fingers. If you strike the inner sides of the triangle repeatedly and rapidly, you can produce a roll or a trill effect. 

The triangle called such due to its appearance. In general there are two kinds of triangles, the large and the small. The large has a lower, muted sound; the smaller is higher, clear and sharp. Both are played with a short metal stick. The triangle’s sound is loud and clear, and easily noticed during a performance. 


9. Sand Bell

The Sand Bell is a percussion instrument, one of many kinds. The most common are the kettledrum, the bass drum, the cymbal, the tambourine, the triangle, the side drum, the wooden fish, the xylophone, the clapper and the gong. The Sand Bell has the form of a bowling ball, a delicate and likeable shape.


10. Violin 

The violin is the most important orchestral instrument. Called the Queen of Instruments, it is capable of producing light sounds or brilliant treble notes with perfect tonal quality. This delicate, graceful instrument has been the first love of many composers. Violins express feelings with precision, so it is a good solo performer. 

Among the string instruments, violins are divided into the first and second violins. Both play an important role in the ensemble. The first violin is on the conductor’s left; the second, to the right of the first violin, at the front left of the conductor. At the far left of the conductor is the concertmaster, the leader of the first violin section. This is an important role, since he or she is not only responsible for solos, but also serves as the conductor’s assistant. 

The position that the violin holds today among instruments is due to the Andrea Amati family in Cremona, Italy, and Andrea’s grandson Nicola Amati in particular. He refined and softened the tone of the violin, and gave it a classic, elegant appearance. The body was made smoother, and the resonance box deeper to add to the tension on the strings. He also modified the way the violin was decorated. His disciple, Antonio Stradivari, developed his violin-making skills to near perfection. He made about 2000 violins in seventy years, andthese violins constitute the modern standard for violin manufacture. There has not been much change since his time. 

 


11. Guitar

The guitar has always been a popular favorite. Many people have studied it. Most, however, think of it as merely a foil or backdrop, an accompaniment for singing. 

The guitar is from the Middle East. Its ancestor is the Kithara of ancient Greece. Before the last part of the 18th century, most guitars had only 4 or 5 unison strings (a unison is one or several strings tuned to one tone). The modern guitar has a wooden, waisted body, a flat backboard, a neck with frets, and 6 plucked (by the fingers or nails) or strummed strings. 

The guitar has a glorious history in both composition and performance from the renaissance to the Classical and Baroque Ages. This type of guitar music, the classical age of the guitar, is very different in structure, performance skills, fingering, and techniques of expression from the music of the folk and electric guitars of the 20th century. Classical guitar puts its emphasis on expressing and interpreting the music to develop a harmonious tone. Capable of displaying the whole range of taste and style of guitar music, it can perform classical music, or rework world folk tunes and popular music.