Make your own instrument at home

27 Feb 2018

Can you make a shaker?

Instruments can make sound in a few different ways. We can classify instruments by their means of sound production into one of 4 main categories: idiophones, aerophones, membranophones, and chordophones.

Idiophones vibrate to produce sound. Crashing a cymbal or striking a note on the xylophone causes the metal to vibrate and produce sound. A rattle vibrates when the beads inside hit the outer shell and vibrate.

Aerophones, as the name may suggest, make sound when air is passed through them. The trumpet, saxophone and harmonica are all aerophones. Even the kazoo is an aerophone!
The most important instrument of all – your voice – is an aerophone, as sound is produced when small jets of air pass over your vocal cords.

Membranophones make sound when a skin or skin-like material is hit or struck. We use membranophones such as our lollipop drums at OAC to keep the beat and experiment with dynamics.

Chordophones use strings to make sound. A guitar is a chordophone, as is a harp and a violin. If you take a peek inside a piano some time, you might see that it is a chordophone too! The keys press down and activate a hammer that strikes a big string in the body of the piano.

Or how about a homemade membranophone? Cut the bottom off a balloon and stretch it over and old formula tin or container. What different sounds can you make with your new drum? Does it sound different when you strike it with your hand? A paddlepop stick?
You could even attempt to make a chordophone by stretching rubber bands over an old tissue box. 
Do the thick bands sound higher or lower than the thin bands? Happy music making!