Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Knight System for Musical Instrument Classification

As a student of Klaus Wachsmann at UCLA shortly after he published a translation of the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system (see previous post), I immediately began my own exploration of the H-S system.  Building on similar endeavors by many other scholars, I have now devised a new system for the classification of musical instruments.  It is based on Hornbostel-Sachs, dividing the world of instruments into four large families, based on how the sound is produced.  The four families are 1, Idiophones, meaning instruments whose body itself (or some part of it) produces the sound; 2, Membranophones, or drums, in which the sound is produced by a stretched membrane; 3, Chordophones, instruments whose sound is produced by stretched strings; and 4, Aerophones, meaning instruments in which sound is produced by exciting the air directly, either by blowing or by mechanical means.  A fifth category, Electrophones, was added after the original publication of Hornbostel-Sachs.
   The Knight System for Musical Instrument Classification grew from rethinking the subfamilies and incorporating new findings.  In the near future,  a pdf copy of the Knight System, first presented to the public at the Niagara Chapter meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology at Kent State University, March 26, 2010, will be available on this site.  In the meantime, if you would like to have a copy, please email me. 

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