The system used today, dividing instruments into wind, strings, and
percussion, is of ancient origin. distinguishing plucked string instruments, such as guitars, from
bowed string instruments, such as violins. Classical musicians today make a distinction between wind
instruments with a reed (woodwind instruments) and wind instruments where the
air is set in motion directly by the lips (brass instruments).
keyboard instruments are often regarded as inhabiting a category of their
own, including all instruments played by a keyboard, whether they have struck
strings (like the piano), plucked strings (like the harpsichord) or no strings
at all (like the celesta).
Western instruments are also often classified by their musical range in
comparison with other instruments in the same family. These terms are named
after singing voice classifications:
Soprano instruments: flute, clarinet, recorder, violin, trumpet ,Alto instruments: oboe, alto flute, viola, horn
Tenor instruments: English horn, trombone ,Bass instruments: bassoon, double bass, bass clarinet, tuba
Some instruments fall into more than one category: for example, the cello may be
considered either tenor or bass, and the trombone may be alto, tenor, or bass and the French horn,
bass, baritone, tenor, or alto, depending on which range it is played.
Many instruments have their range as part of their name: soprano saxophone, alto
saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, baritone horn, alto flute, bass
flute, alto recorder, bass guitar, etc. Additional adjectives describe
instruments above the soprano range or below the bass, for example: sopranino
saxophone, contrabass clarinet.
Lamellaphones are instruments ndigenous to the African
continent. Commonly called Mbira, Mbila, Kalimba, Karimba, Agidigbo, Sansa,
Zanza, Kankowele, Likembe, and many other names depending on their cultural