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List of Musical Instruments
May 04 2024

Questions about musical instruments are asked in a number of MBA exams like MICAT, IIFT, etc, so it would be beneficial for students to remember them. We have made a list of musical instruments and famous personalities who play them. Read on to know all about these instruments.


Types of Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments are broadly classified into 3 categories:

  1. Wind Instruments
  2. Percussion Instruments
  3. String Instruments









Wind Instruments

A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator (usually a tube) in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into (or over) a mouthpiece set at or near the end of the resonator.

Below is the list of musical wind instruments:

1. Flute

A flute is a wind instrument made from a tube with holes that are stopped by the fingers or keys, held vertically or horizontally so that the player's breath strikes a narrow edge. 

James Galway is considered by many seasoned and newbie flute players as the greatest flute player and the most famous in the world. Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Pannalal Ghosh are some of the famous Indian Flute players.

2. Shehnai

The shehnai is a reed instrument very similar to the western oboe. Its sound is quite powerful and has a distinctive nasal quality. It is produced by blowing the reeds, which are bound together and held between the lips with a certain tension. 

The pitch can be altered by changing the pressure of lips and air. Bismillah Khan, Krishna Ram Chaudhary, and Ali Ahmad Hussain are famous Shehnai players.

3. Saxophone

The saxophone is one of a group of single-reed woodwind instruments usually ranging from soprano to bass and characterized by a conical metal tube and finger keys. 

Famous saxophone players include Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Wayne Shorter, and Art Pepper.

4. Bagpipe

The bagpipe is a musical instrument with reed pipes that are sounded by the pressure of wind emitted from a bag squeezed by the player's arm. 

Bagpipes are associated especially with Scotland but are also used in folk music in Ireland, Northumberland, and France, and in varying forms across Europe and western Asia.

5. Harmonica

Harmonica is a small rectangular wind instrument with a row of metal reeds along its length, held against the lips, and moved from side to side to produce different notes by blowing or sucking. 

Mickey Raphael is an American harmonicist who is best known for playing the harmonica.

6. Trumpet

A brass musical instrument with a flared bell and a bright, penetrating tone. The modern instrument has the tubing looped to form a straight-sided coil, with three valves. 

Wynton Marsalis is one of the most famous trumpeters in the world.


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Percussion Instruments

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand, or struck against another similar instrument.

Below is the list of musical percussion instruments:

1. Tabla

Tabla is the most famous percussion instrument of North India. It is most commonly used in North Indian classical music, but its versatility in all musical styles has enabled it to become the most popular percussion instrument in all of India. 

Famous tabla players are Zakir Hussain, Allah Rakha, Sabir Khan, Pt. Kishan Maharaj, Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh, and Sandeep Das.

2. Mridangam

A Mridangam is a barrel-shaped double-headed drum with one head larger than the other, used in southern Indian music. Famous Mridangam players are K.V. Prasad, S.V. Rajarao, and Umalayapuram Sivaraman.

3. Drum

The drum is a percussion instrument sounded by being struck with sticks or the hands, typically cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or bowl-shaped, with a taut membrane over one or both ends. 

Some famous drummers include: Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Neil Peart, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Phil Rudd, Rashied Ali, Carl Allen, Steve White, Craig Blundell, Travis Barker, and Sivamani

4. Dholak

Dholak is a very pop­ular folk drum of nor­thern India.  It is barrel-shaped with a simple membrane on the right-hand side; ba­si­cally it is just a smaller version of the dhol

The left hand is also a sin­gle membrane with a special application on the inner surface.

5. Bells

A Bell is a hollow metal object, typically in the shape of a deep inverted cup widening at the lip, that sounds a clear musical note when struck, especially by means of a clapper inside.

6. Xylophone

The xylophone is a musical instrument played by striking a row of wooden bars of graduated length with one or more small wooden or plastic beaters. 

Red Norvo, George Cary, George Hamilton Green, Teddy Brown, and Harry Breuer were well-known Xylophone players. 

String Instrument

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Below is the list of musical string instruments:

1. Guitar

The guitar is a plucked stringed musical instrument that probably originated in Spain early in the 16th century, deriving from the guitarra Latina, a late-medieval instrument with a waisted body and four strings.

Jimi Hendrix has been voted the Greatest Guitarist Of All Time by readers of the Louder website.

2. Sitar

Sitar is an Indian musical instrument like a guitar with a long neck and a round body. The word sitar comes from the Persian word ‘si’ meaning ‘three’ and the root word ‘tar’ meaning ‘string’.

Pt Ravi Shankar, Shahid Parvez Khan, Budhaditya Mukherjee, and Anushka Shankar are well-known sitar players.

3. Sarangi

The sārangī is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from the Indian subcontinent, which is used in Hindustani classical music as well as Pakistani music. 

It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as games and meends. Some famous Sarangi players are Shakoor Khan, Pt Ram Narayan, Ramesh Mishra, and Sultan Khan

4. Veena

Veena, the traditional instrument of India is also known as Saraswati Veena which is a musical instrument of South India. 

Veena is a classical instrument basically a plucked stringed instrument that is used to accompany Carnatic music. Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, Ayyagari Syamasundaram, and Doraiswamy Iyengar are famous Veena players.

5. Harp

The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers. Nancy Allen is one of the famous Harpists.

6. Piano

A Piano is a large keyboard musical instrument with a wooden case enclosing a soundboard and metal strings, which are struck by hammers when the keys are depressed. 

The strings' vibration is stopped by dampers when the keys are released and can be regulated for length and volume by two or three pedals. 

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Anisha Mukhija

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