Musical Instruments

The String Family

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The violin, cello, guitar, and harp are all members of the string family. These instruments all use strings to produce a sound and can be further divided into groups depending on how the string is sounded.

Some instruments, such as the the violin, viola, cello, and string bass, usually have four strings and use a bow to produce sound. The bow, usually horsehair stretched along a stick, is scraped across the strings to produce vibrations. The pitch can be raised by stopping the string (pressing the string against the fingerboard) with the fingers.

Other instruments, like the guitar, banjo, and lute are similar to the bowed instruments in that they consist of four or more strings which are stopped to change the pitch. These instruments are different because they produce a sound by plucking the strings with either the fingers or a pick.

Instruments like the harp and harpsichord also produce a sound by plucking the strings. However, these instruments have many strings (30 or more) which are each tuned to a different pitch. A different string is plucked to produce each note.

Similar to harps, are struck stringed instruments such as the piano and the hammered dulcimer. Instead of plucking the strings however, they are struck with hammers to produce the vibration.

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