Extinct Musical Instruments That have Slowly Become Unheard Of

about 6 years ago
product By Hardik Kothari

Musical Instruments That Disappeared Over Time

Over the years, Music has always been a medicine to the soul. Whatever be the mood or occasion there always is a suitable music to accompany it. Since we are talking about music, here are some musical instrument names that have slowly become unheard of. In fact, the topic of our discussion is the rise and fall of extinct musical instruments. Let us dig deep into historical grounds in order to learn and get acquainted with a few musical instruments whose soothing sounds have been faded away throughout the years.

History of musical instruments

Before delving deep into a vast ocean of strange and lesser known musical instruments, let us learn a bit about their past. How did the ancient sound instruments look like and more importantly sound like? When and how were they discovered and by whom? These are some intriguing questions whose answers are very much engaging. It was on a day near about 42,000 years ago that the first musical instrument was played. The most ancient known musical instruments were probably flutes made out of bones of birds and ivory. They were also accompanied by the earliest forms of percussion instruments, which were similar to drums, probably made using rocks and sticks readily available at that time.

At around 4000 B.C. ancient Egyptian tribes invented flutes and harps and a few century later lyres and double-reed clarinets were also created. The most popular instrument nowadays i.e. the guitar was first invented by the Hittites in 1500 B.C. which was an immensely important invention, as it later led to the creation of many other string instruments. With the progress of science and development, many other ancient musical instruments were created which played a vital part in tribal ceremonies or holy occasions for the entertainment purpose of the then human beings.

Extinction of various instruments and its cause

Since the time when ancient musical instruments were invented and played in full swing to the modern age of technological musical instruments a hoard of musical instruments have been forgotten by musicians. The process was gradual yet inevitable. Similar to musicians, musical instruments also go out of style and often a few of them become irrelevant and hence forgotten. The primary cause for this is however, our ever required tendency to make everything standardized.

Children in school are taught to play the standard orchestral instruments and thus the ancient non-standardized instruments are becoming vague. Nowadays you can barely if at all see a musician playing the nyckelharpa or the sambuca except a few strange people here and there who are still passionate enough to learn and play these few stranger musical instruments of ancient times. One such musician is Clare Salaman who is the director of The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments and can play multiple instruments including the nyckelharpa. Caroline Phillips is another such music enthusiast who loves playing the Hurdy-Gurdy, a super innovative ancient musical instrument that is slowly but surely becoming extinct.

A few important but sadly extinct musical instruments

The musical instruments that are becoming extinct are in desperate need of prevention and in order to do so it is very essential to know and learn about a few of them first.

The Chitata

It is one of the most ancient and unique musical instrument used to play traditional song. It consists of a board upon which 8 pieces of small metals are stuck and the whole board is suspended to a gourd in order to produce an amplifying effect.

The Bangwe

It is one of the most ancient musical instruments that presently has arrived very close to extinction. It comprises of a board on which a number of strings are attached. Under each one of them are placed rocks at varying distances in order to obtain a variety of notes. To provide an amplifying effect a metal container is tactically placed in the front.

The Alimba

It is a simple yet indigenous instrument where a wooden rod is kept suspended on a gourd as a result of which the sound gets amplified. Variations are created by using an orchestra of different Alimba Xylophones.

The Santur

The advent of this complex yet beautiful string instrument occurred around 1000 A.D. It's Iranian version generally comprises of 72 strings and is played with the help of small hammers. 

This version of the Santur generally acts as an instrument of classical music. Its complexity lies in its difficult playing technique, which requires the musician to master the art of technical wrist work.

The Mbira

This one is a unique homemade musical instruments that traces its roots back in Zimbabwe and is still prevalent in parts of Africa. The construction is simple, as it comprises of metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard. 

Although it can be classified in the group of extinct musical instruments, it still finds a bit of use at religious and social occasions. The most striking feature of the Mbira, also known as the Thumb Piano, is The Buzz, which is said to clear the mind of all kind of thoughts and worries.

The Nyckelharpa

This one dates back 600 years ago in parts of Sweden where it was invented. It is a string instrument with a bowed-keyed fiddle and the music that it makes is absolutely divine. Its use had become very scanty during the 1900s but during the 1960s and 1970s, its popularity increased to some extent, which has now resulted in about 100 musicians in the U.K. play it.

The Qanun

The Qanun came into the foray since 950 A.D. when it came into contention by the Middle Eastern musician. It is genuinely a wooden board on which nearly 75 to 81 strings are attached.

Ways of Revival

It is a known fact Music is timeless, but our instruments are always changing. As music itself vary a lot ranging from Greek Folk Music to Traditional Folk music, musical instruments are also found in large variations inside instrument stores. But as discussed earlier many of these instruments are becoming extinct and are in need for instant revival. 

Dr. Moya Malamusi who is the band leader of the Donald Kachamba Heritage Jazz Band as well as an Ethnomusicologist understands the aforesaid need and has thus done a lot of research and provided with lots of information about musical instrument that run the risk of being extinct.

Snap! Crackle! Share this post!

Join our newsletter

Get articles in your inbox

Must Read

9 Tips to earn money with your creativity on Showflipper!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Get into our mailing list to get the latest blog updates directly to your Inbox.