A chordophone is any musical instrument that makes sound by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points. It is one of the four main divisions of instruments in the original Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification.

What many would call string instruments are classified as chordophones. Violins, guitars, lyres, and harps are examples. However, the word also embraces instruments that many westerners would hesitate to call string instruments, such as the musical bow and the piano (which, although sometimes called a string instrument, is also called a keyboard instrument and a percussion instrument).

Hornbostel-Sachs divides chordophones into two main groups: instruments without a resonator as an integral part of the instrument (which have the classification number 31); and instruments with such a resonator (which have the classification number 32). Most western instruments fall into the second group, but the piano and harpsichord fall into the first. Hornbostel and Sachs' criterion for determining which sub-group an instrument falls into is that if the resonator can be removed without destroying the instrument, then it is classified as 31. The idea that the piano's casing, which acts as a resonator, could be removed without destroying the instrument, may seem odd, but if the action and strings of the piano were taken out of its box, it could still be played. This is not true of the violin, because the string passes over a bridge located on the resonator box, so removing the resonator would mean the strings had no tension.

Electric string instruments often have an electromagnetic pickup that produces a signal that can be amplified. The electric guitar is the most famous example, but there are new instruments like the overtone koto which make use of the new possibilities that pickups offer.

How chordophones work

When you pluck the instrument, the strings vibrate and echo off each other. There is usually something that makes the sound resonate, such as the body of a guitar or violin. The strings are set into motion by either plucking (like a harp), strumming (like a guitar), by rubbing with a bow (like a violin,cello or double bass), or by striking (like a piano or berimbau). Common chordophones include the banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, sitar, harp, lute, piano, ukulele, viola, and violin.

See also

  Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification  

Idiophone | Membranophone | Chordophone | Aerophone | Electrophone

List of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • chordophone — n. (Music) a stringed instrument of the group including harps, lutes, lyres, and zithers. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Chordophone —   [k ; griechisch eigentlich »Saitentöner«], Singular Chordophon das, s, in der Systematik der Musikinstrumente diejenigen Instrumente, die zur primären Klangerzeugung Schwingungen gespannter Saiten verwenden, z. B. Violine, Gitarre …   Universal-Lexikon

  • chordophone — /kawr deuh fohn /, n. a stringed instrument of a group including the harps, lutes, lyres, and zithers. [1935 40; CHORD1 + O + PHONE] * * *       any of a class of musical instruments in which a stretched, vibrating string produces the initial… …   Universalium

  • chordophone — noun Any stringed musical instrument …   Wiktionary

  • chordophone — chor·do·phone …   English syllables

  • chordophone — /ˈkɔdəfoʊn/ (say kawduhfohn) noun a musical instrument with stretched strings which are either plucked, bowed or struck; includes zithers, lutes, lyres and harps. Compare aerophone, electrophone, idiophone, membranophone …   Australian English dictionary

  • chordophone — noun a stringed instrument of the group including harps, lutes, lyres, and zithers • Hypernyms: ↑stringed instrument • Hyponyms: ↑balalaika, ↑harp, ↑lute, ↑mandolin …   Useful english dictionary

  • Origin of the harp in Europe — The Nigg stone 790 799A.D carving of a Pictish harp in a 19th century illustration, minus the top section …   Wikipedia

  • Hornbostel-Sachs-Systematik — Die Hornbostel Sachs Systematik ist ein Klassifikationssystem für Musikinstrumente. Sie wurde 1914 von Erich Moritz von Hornbostel und Curt Sachs in der Zeitschrift für Ethnologie unter dem Titel Systematik der Musikinstrumente. Ein Versuch.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hornbostel-Sachs System — Diese Systematik von Erich M. von Hornbostel und Curt Sachs ist ein Versuch, die weltweit existierenden Musikinstrumente in ein System zu bringen. Veröffentlicht wurde sie 1914 in der Zeitschrift für Ethnologie.[1] Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Idiophone… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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