Greetings. I’m intoxicated. You’ve been warned! Fortunately, I’m armed with spellcheck and there’s even some silly grammar checker thingy that always yells at me. I don’t blame at it, but it reminds me of an old English teacher – who pretty much also always yelled at me.
Ah… If she could see me now…
She’d definitely not be impressed. No, no impressed is not quite the word I’d use. Oh, I’d leave an impression – but it needs a bigger word than just impressed.
Where was I?
Oh… So, every once in a while, I peck out some guitar history and it seems to me that I should do this more often. I’m not tired of the other series, but I do like to mix things up a little.
I promise, I’ll be gentle – and it’s just the tip!
Your guitar is known as a chordophone. If you’d paid attention in music class, you’d know this! You didn’t… That’s okay! I did!
Chordophones are defined as making noise by way of a vibrating string anchored between two points. A violin is a chordophone. So is a banjo. So is a piano!
Yup… When you use a piano, there’s little hammers inside that smash down on strings and that causes ’em to vibrate. Those strings are anchored between two points. Vibrating strings? Check. Strings anchored between two points? Check. Chordophone? Check!
Now, this isn’t important for guitar, but I’m gonna tell you anyhow. It’s kinda what I do!
This classification comes from the system known as Mahillon and Hornbostel-Sachs and that’s based on an old Indian system – which divided ’em into four groups.
The Mahillon and Hornbostel-Sachs system has five groups. Basically, they took the Indian system and turned it up to 11. Rock on, crazy men. Rock on! (No, really. I’m pretty sure they were crazy. You’ll see…)
So, what are these fancy categorizations?
Idiophones is the first one. That’s shit like a xylophone. While you strike it, they say it vibrates itself. I mean, it doesn’t – but that’s what they say. Until you smash it, it just sits right there doing pretty much nothing!
Membranophones is the second one. That’s stuff like a drum. It’s made by vibrating membranes together. A kazoo is actually a membranophone! Pretty sweet, huh? So, the next time you’re jamming out with a kazoo and someone asks you, “Hey, where’d you get the pretty awesome kazoo?” You can respond by telling them that they can just go pick up a membranophone at their local music store. (In my head, that’s a delightful conversation!)
Aerophones is the third one. That is stuff like a pipe organ. It’s stuff that vibrates the air. Granted, that’s kind of silly – ’cause all musical instruments vibrate the air – but what do I know? If they didn’t vibrate the air, they’d not make sound! But, that’s stuff like a pipe organ or a bitchin’ oboe making sweet, sweet swing music.
Electrophones is the fourth one. I bet you can guess it! It’s sound made by means of electricity. A synthesizer is an electrophone, as is an electric keyboard. An electric bass guitar, just to confuse the fuck out of you, is also considered an electrophone, ’cause it doesn’t make a whole lot of sound unless you plug it in. I’m pretty sure it’s also a chordophone, but that’s not a hill I’m willing to die on.
Chordophones is the last one – but I already told you about them and you’d know what they are – if you were paying attention.
The truth is, as you can see, some instruments can fit in multiple categories and the categories don’t really make a whole lot of sense. But, that’s what they are and that’s why your guitar is called a chordophone.
Don’t blame me! I don’t make the rules. Also, I’m pretty sure they were crazy.
Hmm… This is going to be a short one, ’cause it leads into a topic that’s way too long to squish into one article. Next in this “series”, well probably next, I’ll go over some history about how the chordophone became the guitar we all know and love. It’s a pretty interesting story and I think some of you may not know about it and may be happy to learn about it.
I ain’t even sorry for writing this while hammered. It’s my site, I’ll write silly stuff if I want to! Besides, I need an article to release in like 8 hours and the queued up spare article isn’t that interesting. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!