This is the fourth of our instructor-led online discussions for Mu 101 (Spring 2020). Refer to the handout you received the first day of class (click on this highlighted text to go to that page our class website) which describes the amount and kinds of contributions you’re expected to make to these online discussions (adding your own ideas, responding to others’ ideas, and asking questions that others can respond to) — these are all the same parameters of good conversation that happens offline, too!
The most effective comments in an online forum are short — think about how you skim past others’ comments if they’re more than a couple lines long instead of engaging closely with that person’s ideas! If everyone involved in these weekly conversations only posts a single long comment, it won’t be a conversation, and we won’t all benefit from opportunity to learn from each other. Rather than dropping in on the blog once during the week and adding a single long comment, think of this forum as an opportunity to have a conversation with your fellow classmates. A conversation, whether online or in person, involves back-and-forth contributions from everyone involved: adding something new based on your own experiences or ideas, asking questions, responding to the ideas of others. The best way to get the most out of this learning experience is to share your single best idea, give room for others to respond, and then build on each others’ contributions later in the week.
The reading time of this post is quite short (around 2 minutes), but that’s because almost all of the content is listening-based rather than text-based. Below you’ll find links to pages with videos demonstrating various common (and uncommon) musical instruments found in Western classical music, grouped by instrument family (i.e., all the instruments on a single page produce sound in a similar way). There are many more instruments in the world than are included here, but this is a good introduction.
The goal of this discussion
As you read and watch, think about ways you can describe the timbre or sound quality of the various instruments you hear, or other ways to group their sounds besides instrument family—these sonic details, just like the distinctions in sounds you’ve been noticing as you completed your soundscape journals, are what bring all of our other musical elements to life.
Explore and enjoy!
Links to instrument families and voice types
Instrument families (each family name below is a link to a web page with videos of instruments in that family):
You can hear various instruments combined on this page, which explores different ensembles.
As suggested by how many instruments are included in this lesson, and the fact that it barely scratches the surface of all the instruments people play around the world, the world of musical instruments is huge. You can find woodwind, brass, string, and percussion instruments all over the world, and there are infinite combinations out there for you to experience and enjoy.