Acoustic instruments are musical instruments that produce sound without the use or enhancement of electronics. (However, acoustic string and wind instruments can be amplified electronically without changing the sound of the instruments.) Classification systems are used for all musical instruments, and percussion, wind, and string instruments are all classified as acoustic instruments. Each of these acoustic instruments comes in many forms and varieties and include accordions, drums, brass and wind instruments, guitars, pianos, and many other kinds of string instruments.
Acoustic instruments date back to the beginning of man, percussion perhaps coming first with wind instruments close on their heels. Flutes and whistles made of bone, dating back 100,000 years or more, have been uncovered in Europe. String instruments have been around for centuries and a form of the most widely known of all string acoustic instruments, the guitar, is known to have been played in central Asia five thousand years ago.
Acoustic instruments in the wind or “aerophone” category are generally wood or metal tube-shaped “blowhole” instruments, that is, whistles, piccolos, flutes, fifes, etc. Acoustic instruments of the aerophone category include bugles and trumpets, whose sounds are made from vibrations of the lips placed on the mouthpiece, and also reed instruments that contain reeds in the mouthpiece that vibrate as air passes across them. The vibrations of the lips or reeds, enhanced within the tube, make the unique sounds of these instruments.
“Chordophone” is the term applied to acoustic instruments that make sounds by vibrating stretched strings. The violin, cello, guitar, lyre, and harp are acoustic instruments of the chordophone variety, but so are the piano and some percussion instruments. Acoustic instruments of the chordophone variety can be set apart by whether or not they have a resonator, an interior cavity that reflects and intensifies waves of sound produced by plucking, striking, or brushing the taut strings.
Acoustic instruments of the percussion type make sounds when they vibrate after being scraped, struck, or shook. Percussion instruments are usually used for adding rhythmic content to musical compositions. Drums with stretched membranes, rattles, metal disks, wooden blocks, cymbals, pipes, etc., are acoustic instruments that add percussion sounds to musical compositions.
The attraction of acoustic instruments is perhaps the naturalness of the sounds that musicians are able to get them to emit. Some music lovers consider acoustic instruments to touch their souls or lift their spirits more profoundly than electronic instruments, which make less natural sounds. Acoustic instruments can be manipulated to make very soulful sounds, indeed, and many musicians become known for their ability to wield heart-rending sounds from their acoustic instruments.
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