Musical instrument classification

In the study of musical instruments, organology, there are many different methods of classifying musical instruments. Most methods are specific to a particular cultural group and were developed to serve the requirements of that culture and its musical needs. Such classification schemes often break down when applied outside of their original context. For example, a classification based on instrument use may fail when applied to culture which has a different use, or even multiple uses, for the same instrument.

Variety of recorders from Martin Agricola's 1529 Musica instrumentalis deudsch (Instrumental Music in German)

Throughout history, various methods of musical instrument classification have been used by musicians & scholars. The most commonly used system divides instruments into string instruments (often divided into plucked and bowed), wind instruments (often divided into woodwind and brass), and percussion instruments with modern classifications adding electronic instruments as a distinct class of instrument; however, other schemes have also been devised.

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