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Idiophon (from ancient Greek ἴδιος ídios , German 'own' and φωνεῖν phōneĭn 'tönen') means "self-tones" or self-tinker and describes a musical instrument that vibrates as a whole to become a sound or sound-producing medium or contains parts capable of vibrating that do not have any tense strings or membranes are. Idiophones are particularly represented as rhythm instruments in all cultures of the world, but are also used as melody instruments (for example in the form of multi-tone stick games ) . Idiophones are usually made of wood ( xylophone ), metal ( metallophone ), stone ( lithophone ) or glass ( glass harp ).

The distinction between percussion instruments in (self-sounding) idiophones and membranophones , in which a membrane transmits its vibrations to a body , comes from ancient Indian music theory. Such a distinction was not made in the European Middle Ages. In the classification of musical instruments by Victor Charles Mahillon in 1880, the self- clinkers appear for the first time after the Indian model under the name of autophones . In 1914, this group, now called Idiophone, was adopted as one of the four main categories in the Hornbostel-Sachs system .



  • Howard Mayer Brown, Frances Palmer: Idiophone. In: Grove Music Online, 2001
  • Gisa Jähnichen, Vincent J. Novara: Idiophones. In: Janet Sturman (Ed.): The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture. Volume 3: G – M, SAGE Publications, London 2019, pp. 1127–1146
  • Sibyl Marcuse : A Survey of Musical Instruments. Harper & Row, New York 1975, sv Part 1: Idiophones , pp. 3-114

Web links

Commons : Idiophon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wieland Ziegenrücker: General music theory with questions and tasks for self-control. German Publishing House for Music, Leipzig 1977; Paperback edition: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, and Musikverlag B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-442-33003-3 , p. 169.