An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the vibration of the instrument itself, without the use of air flow (as with aerophones), strings (chordophones), membranes (membranophones) or electricity (electrophones). It is the first of the four main divisions in the original Hornbostel–Sachs system of musical instrument classification (see List of idiophones by Hornbostel–Sachs number). The early classification of Victor-Charles Mahillon called this group of instruments autophones. The most common are struck idiophones, or concussion idiophones, which are made to vibrate by being struck, either directly with a stick or hand (like the wood block, singing bowl, steel tongue drum, triangle or marimba) or indirectly, with scraping or shaking motions (like maracas or flexatone). Various types of bells fall into both categories. A common plucked idiophone is the Jew's harp.

A kouxian, a plucked idiophone
Set of bell plates, range C2–E4, a struck idiophone (played with mallets) or friction idiophone (bowed)
Claves (foreground), a struck idiophone

According to Sachs,[1] idiophones

are instruments made of naturally sonorous materials not needing any additional tension as do strings and drumskins. In this class it is the player's action that has shaped the instruments, because they have originated from extensions of striking or clapping hands or stamping feet. Accordingly, the basic question is how they are set into vibration.

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