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Home Ensemble Category Acknowledgment


> Extracted from the summary of "An introduction to a classification system for all musical isntruments" by Catherine Schmidt-Jones.

In membranophones, the sound begins with the vibration of a stretched membrane, or skin (often an actual animal skin), but the skin is usually stretched across a resonator. Membranophones are usually classified according to the shape of the resonating body of the instrument.


 Illustration by Margaret Jones

Figure 1

Figure 2

Membranophones are classified by their basic shape. For example, a drum that is wider at top and bottom than in the middle is a waisted tubular drum.

4.1    Tubular drums are divided into cylindrical, conical, barrel, long, waisted (hourglass-shaped), goblet (with a stem at the base), and footed (with feet around the edge of the bottom) such as gedombak, gendang, geduk, and klong.

4.2    Kettledrums or vessel drums have rounded bottoms.

4.3    In frame drums, the membrane is stretched over a frame, usually making a wide, shallow instrument, such as Kompang, rebana, tamborin.





Figure 3: Kompang is a shallow frame drum with a goat or cow hide skin nailed to the wooden frame by metal nails.


Illustration on a webpage by the National Library of Malaysia


4.4    Friction drums come in a variety of shapes. Instead of beating on the membrane, the player runs a stick through a hole in the membrane.

4.5   In mirlitons, the membrane is made to vibrate by blowing air across it. These are the only membranophones that are not drums. (Kazoos are in this category).