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Overview: Musical Instruments

Music is an artistic form of sound communication via musical instruments that produce sounds and tones. Music is as old as mankind. All cultures past and present have had musical instruments. The "oldest known song" dates back 4,000 years ago and was written in ancient cuneiform. It is not certain how or when the first musical instrument was invented, however, most historians point to early flutes made from animal bones that are at least 37,000 years old.  Musical instruments are the tools of musicians. And like other craftsmen, as the musician becomes more skilled he/she becomes more capable of producing great works with his/her tool.  Music seems to be a primal love of people. It seems that as new ways were found to make music news of their development spread quickly. So there are ancient musical instruments such as drums, harps and whistles in Asia that look very similar to ancient musical instruments in Africa, Europe and the Americas. Many modern musical instruments are refinements of these very primitive musical instruments. It is only with the development of electronics that the method of making music has dramatically changed.

The development of electricity led not only to its use for mechanical purposes--for example, to control the key action and wind flow in the orga--but also as a means of amplification (e.g., in the vibraphone). With advances in electronics technology, players can now also make use of computers to generate and store tones and musical patterns. The growth of companies manufacturing electronic and digital musical instruments has been rapid, and the use of electronic equipment, such as sound synthesizers and recorders using analog or digital media, to produce and combine sound unrelated to the musical scale has become common.  Electronic musical instruments are now widely used in most styles of music. The development of new electronic musical instruments, controllers, and synthesizers continues to be a highly active and interdisciplinary field of research. Specialized conferences have organized to report cutting edge work, as well as to provide a showcase for artists who perform or create music with new electronic musical instruments, controllers, and synthesizers.