Difficulty of learning musical instruments

  • #26
Rach3
Certain nameless people here have fallen into a frenzy of classification. I will point out to them the astronomical community and their classification of planets; learn from their folly.
 
  • #27
Rach3
I think very few people really care what it is that strikes the strings in a piano, it's the keyboard which is prominent. A truly useful classification scheme would focus on the musician, not the engineering; for instance,

bowed strings
plucked strings
brass
woodwind (reed)
flutes
percussion
keyboard
 
  • #28
6,265
1,280
Wikipedia said:
There are also problems with classifying certain keyboard instruments. For example, the piano has strings, but they are struck by hammers, so it is not clear whether it should be classified as a string instrument, or a percussion instrument. For this reason, keyboard instruments are often regarded as inhabiting a category of their own, including all instruments played by a keyboard, whether they have struck strings (like the piano), plucked strings (like the harpsichord) or no strings at all (like the celesta). It might be said that with these extra categories, the classical system of instrument classification focuses less on the fundamental way in which instruments produce sound, and more on the technique required to play them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_instrument_classification

That is the common practise.

This more elaborate and detailed taxonomy:

http://www.ksanti.net/free-reed/description/taxonomy.html

which categorizes the piano in a subcategory (struck) of stringed instruments, is more accurate, to be sure, but no one actually involved in music speaks of the piano this way. It's always spoken of as a "keyboard" instrument.

This classification, keyboard, is probably a carryover from the German term clavier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavier

Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier was meant to be played on any keyboard instrument the student had available, harpsichord, organ, or, most likely, clavichord, which was a small, not very loud, practise keyboard instrument with a very simple mechanical action that resulted in the strings being struck by small, brass hammerheads.

An overview of keyboard instruments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_instrument
 
  • #30
6,265
1,280
franznietzsche said:
I do love my bari sax.
Speaking of jazz, and getting off topic, I found three Benny Goodman 78's at the swap meet last week and got them for a buck a piece.

I thought I might be rich, but it turns out that eBay is flooded with Benny Goodman 78's and people can't get more than a few dollars for one.

Still, I have 6 tunes by him I've never heard before. I also got a Woody Herman and 2 Hoagy Carmichaels, and 1 Count basie.
 
  • #31
345
1
I believe it is pretty difficult to try to conjure up a list regarding the difficulty of all the instruments. But as a general thumb of rule:

1. The learning curve for stringed instruments such as violin cello etc are much more steeper than woodwind instruments.

2. However, mastery for all instruments are all the same difficulty, as they are of diffierent KIND of difficulty.
 
  • #32
Rach3
DaveC426913 said:
2] Apparently flute, clarinet and trumpet are imaginary instruments?
I thought all instruments were rather complex? :biggrin:
 
  • #33
Not being terribly interested in music is there a reason you want to learn to play music? (or fiddle/violin in particular?)
 
  • #34
Ouabache
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,340
8
As a child, I learned the mechanics of playing a brass instument (trombone) and because I inherited a decent ear, gained proficiency more rapidly. After my undergraduate college years, I learned acoustic guitar & within 10 yrs began expanding my stringed instrument exploration to mandolin and banjo.

Having already gone thru musical training, in my formative years, I had a different perspective when learning new instruments later. My ear became more highly attuned to multiple aspects of music: melody, harmony, rhythms, syncopation, chord structure, voicings, emotional expression. For me, that made it easier to learn more than one instrument.

My advice is if you enjoy fiddle music, find a teacher or at least good audio-visual guides and practise as much as you can. Find tunes you enjoy listening to and strive to learning them. Listen to many artists you might enjoy emulating. Once you gain some proficiency at the mechanics of your instrument, you will then be able to take it to the next level. Don't worry about complex forms, that will come with more experience.
 
  • #35
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,099
2,613
TheStatutoryApe said:
Not being terribly interested in music is there a reason you want to learn to play music? (or fiddle/violin in particular?)
Clarification: Not being terribly interested in playing music.

I've never shown any aptitude in it, and I guess I have so many other things going on. While I sort of thought I'd like to learn the piano, I wasn't really motivated.

In the last few years, I think I've found a genre of music that is more me than heretofore in my life - Irish/Celtic/Maritime folk. I'm nuts for Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea and Flogging Molly.

With this new interest in a particular type of music, I'm finding it is also music I would enjoy being able to create myself.
 
  • #36
DaveC426913 said:
Does anyone know where I might find a rough guide of how difficult it is to learn different musical intruments?

I guess I'm specifically interested in the fiddle.

I know music theory, I can read music (at least, if given indefinite time) and even mangled a trumpet in high school, but have never shown any aptitude (or, frankly, interest) in music. My artistic talents are visual.

I guess it also depends on the complexity of the musci I want to play.

Advice?
I think every musical instrument is easy to learn, but hard to master.
For example, I took up the electric bass less than a year ago.
I consider myself pretty alright; it wasn't hard to learn.
However, I'm no Billy Sheehan (not yet, anyway).
 
  • #37
yushiyang
Keyboards do not produce sounds. Strings and pipes produce sounds. It is the type of sound it produces that classifies it. The piano is a string instrument, the organ is a wind instrument.


Of course, it depends on whether you are asking the listener or the player. To the player, piano and organ are interchangeable.
Actually, it depends on how you classify it.

In orchestras, you have strings, winds, brass, and percussion. these instruments are classified by the how they are played, not how sound is produced.
Since piano is not an instrument in an orchestra, piano is not classified in this manner, and is, instead, referred to as a solo instrument (you can chuck it under keyboard though).

If you're talking about instruments generally though, it's usually much safer to use the following system:
idiophones- produce sound through vibration of the instrument itself
membraphones- produce sound through a vibrating membrane (drums and such)
chordophones- produce sound through vibrating strings (includes piano and harpsichord)
aerophones- produce sound through vibrating air (wind and brass and pipe organ)
electrophones- produce sound electronically.

this classification is much clearer, as you can use it to classify instruments that do not appear in the standard western orchestra.
 
  • #38
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,214
272
I've played violin, guitar, piano, and accordian.

Violin is definitely the most difficult instrument of that list with piano being the easiest in terms of coordination

piano is the most difficult to write music for though since you can play 10 notes at once on it.
 

Related Threads on Difficulty of learning musical instruments

Replies
90
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
803
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
2
Replies
35
Views
11K
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
3K
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
Top