Can You Name All of These Orchestral Instruments?

By: Kennita Leon
Image: urbazon / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Like we were saying, an orchestra is a large group of instruments, a.k.a. an ensemble, that perfects the mixing of said instruments to make sounds that our minds sometimes don't comprehend, but we still love and appreciate. Some of the most well-known instruments include violins, keyboards, harps, guitars and cellos. But that's far from all of them. Could you identify those and more if we played their sounds for you? Well, we can't do that here, so how about if we just show you their pictures?

If you're up to the challenge, we're going to show you some instruments you may have never heard of, but have definitely heard - and it will be your job to tell us what they are. Get ready to see some contrabassoons, harpsichords, saxhorns, vibraphones, marimbas, flugelhorns and more - each of which plays a part (quite literally) in the beautiful pieces that you hear and enjoy. 

All we really want to know is whether you've got the musical chops and knowledge to correctly identify each and every one of the common and/or weird instruments highlighted in this quiz and in your town's best orchestra. If you're up to the challenge, go ahead and start this quiz right now. 

The trumpet, which dates back to 1500 B.C., is the highest sounding member of the brass family. It has been used as a musical instrument since the late 14th or early 15th century. Historically, it was used to send signals or messages in hunting, in battle and for religious purposes.

The violin, also known as the fiddle, is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the string family. It can be played sitting or standing, held between the left side of the player's chin and shoulder. In an orchestra the violins are usually divided into two sections, each playing a different part.

The harp is a tall, triangular-shaped string instrument, composed of about 45 vertical strings. This instrument dates back as far as 3500 B.C. and was played in Africa, Asia and Europe, especially during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages.

The tambourine, which originated in Egypt, is a member of the percussion family. It has a wooden or plastic frame and pairs of small metal jingles called zils, and it may or may not have a drumhead. The tambourine is commonly used in rock, country, samba, gospel and pop music.

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument made of 88 keys – 52 white and 36 black. It is used in a wide variety of music, including classical, music hall, ragtime, jazz and rock. The piano was invented by Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700.

The saxophone, which was invented by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in the 1840s, is a woodwind instrument made of brass. Like the clarinet, the sax is played using a single-reed mouthpiece. It has holes which are closed by the player using a system of key mechanisms.

A bass drum, also called a kick drum, is a large tuned percussion instrument which produces a deep or low sound when struck on either side with felt-covered mallets. It is made of a hollow, wooden cylinder covered with calfskin or a plastic drumhead at both ends.

The clarinet is a versatile woodwind instrument which has a wide range - nearly four octaves. The sound is created when air is blown through the reed and the mouthpiece, causing the reed to vibrate. The quality of the tone depends on the musician, instrument, reed and mouthpiece.

The tuba is one of the most recent orchestral instruments, having been introduced in the 19th century. It is the largest and lowest-pitched member of the brass family and, like all brass instruments, produces sound by lip vibration into a large mouthpiece.

The organ is a keyboard instrument composed of one or more pipe divisions, each played with its keyboard. Types of organs include the pipe, non-piped, electronic and mechanical. The organ has since become a prominent recital instrument in Catholic music tradition.

Chimes, also known as tubular bells or orchestral bells, are members of the percussion family. Their sound resembles the sound of church bells, a carillon or a bell tower. Chimes composed of a series of tuned brass tubes of varying lengths, which are struck with a wooden hammer to produce a sound.

The gong is a brass, disc-shaped musical percussion instrument which originated in Asia. The gong produces a range of tones when hit with a large, soft mallet – from a small, high-pitched sound to a low or deep reverberating sound.

The triangle is an idiophone type of instrument of the percussion family. It is made from a small cylindrical piece of steel, bent into a triangular shape and held by a loop, thread or wire at the top curve. The triangle is struck with a metal beater, giving off a high-pitched, ringing tone.

The xylophone is a musical instrument of the percussion family. It is made of idiophone wooden bars which are struck with mallets to create a variety of high-pitched tones. Xylophones are used in many cultures, including African and Asian.

Timpani, also called kettle drums, are a type of drum of the percussion family. Timpani drums are traditionally made of large, copper bowls, covered with a drumhead made of calfskin or plastic. It is a pitched instrument which is played by striking the head with a special drumstick called the timpani mallet or timpani stick.

The viola is a string instrument which resembles the violin, but it is slightly larger and has a deeper sound. Like the violin, it is placed between the left shoulder and the left side of the chin. It is the middle or alto voice of the violin family and is typically tuned to C3, G3, D4 and A4.

The cymbals are percussion instruments made of thin, disc-shaped plates of metal alloys, and are traditionally used in pairs. Sound is created by rubbing their edges together in a sliding motion or striking them against each other, or by striking them with mallets or drumsticks.

The contrabassoon, also called the bass bassoon or double bassoon, is a larger variant of the bassoon. It is a very deep-sounding woodwind instrument, with twice the length of the standard bassoon. It curves around itself twice and is supported by an endpin, due to its weight and shape.

The trombone is a member of the brass family, with a mellower sound than the trumpet. Rather than keys or valves, the pitch of the trombone is altered using a long telescoping slide. A longer column of air results in a lower pitch, and vice versa.

The bass, also known as the double bass or string bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed instrument of the string family. It is also a member of the violin family, and is played with a bow or by plucking the strings.

The cello is a string instrument and a member of the violin family. After the bass, it is the second largest and has the second lowest pitch. Like the bass, the cello is large and must rest on the floor while the cellist sits in a chair.

The oboe is a double-reed woodwind instrument, with a mellower sound than the flute. Unlike the piccolo and flute, the oboe does not have a mouthpiece.

The flute, measuring just over two feet in length, is a member of the woodwind group. It produces a soft, mellow, high or piercing sound. It is classified as a reedless wind or aerophone instrument, and it is made from metal or wood with a row of holes covered by keys.

The piccolo, typically made from wood or metal, is a smaller variant of the flute. It is played the same way as the flute, but, due to its size, results in a higher pitch. Because of its unique sound, it is considered a specialty instrument, played when a high pitch is required.

The saxhorn is a type of valved brass instrument which was developed by Adolphe Sax, the creator of the saxophone family. It has a conical bore, a deep cup-shaped mouthpiece and a characteristic mellow tone quality.

The celesta is a struck idiophone which is often used to enhance a melody line played by an instrument or section. It resembles a large wooden box and is operated by a keyboard which is attached to a piano-like cabinet.

An English horn, also known as the cor anglais in French, is a double-reed woodwind instrument of the oboe family. It is one-and-a-half times the length of an oboe, with a bulbous bell and a curved metal neck for the reed. It is thought to have a mellower sound.

The synthesizer, which is commonly played with a musical keyboard, is an electronic device which can copy or generate any sound. It is commonly used to mimic the sound of traditional musical instruments, such as piano, violin, flute or vocals.

The bassoon is a large, woodwind instrument of the double-reed family, which is used to play music written in the bass and tenor clefs, and sometimes the treble. It is characterized by its distinctive warm, dark, reedy timbre, which resembles that of a male baritone voice.

The harpsichord is a member of the plucked-keyboard instrument family which resemble pianos. It is played using a keyboard, which triggers a row of levers. This then activates a mechanism which plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum.

The bass clarinet is a member of the clarinet family. It is usually pitched to B-flat, but plays an octave below the soprano B-flat clarinet. It is commonly used in wind ensembles or concerts, orchestras, and occasionally marching bands.

The vibraphone, also known as the vibraharp or vibes, is a musical instrument of the percussion family and the struck idiophone subfamily. It is similar to a xylophone or marimba, with a keyboard made from metal bars which are struck with mallets.

The marimba is a type of idiophone and percussion instrument which produces musical tones by striking wooden bars with mallets called knobs. Marimbas are used in woodwind and brass ensembles, jazz ensembles, marching bands and orchestral compositions.

The French horn, also referred to as the horn, is a brass instrument made of 12 feet of tubing wrapped into a coil with a large, flared bell at the end. It has a clear, mellow sound and is notoriously difficult to play at very low tones or high tones which have high harmonics.

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument. There are several types of acoustic guitar, including the archtop guitar, the classical guitar and the steel-string acoustic guitar. It is usually played as a solo instrument, by plucking the strings with the fingers or the guitar pick.

The flugelhorn is a brass instrument which resembles a trumpet but has a wider, conical bore. It is a type of valved bulge, which was invented in Germany from a traditional English valveless bulge. The flugelhorn is usually pitched in B-flat.

The snare drum is an unpitched percussion instrument which comes in various sizes and is made of wood, plastic or acrylic materials. The snare drum is played by striking the drumhead with the drumstick, resulting in a sharp, staccato sound.

The cornet, developed in the 19th century, is a member of the brass family which bears a resemblance to the trumpet. It is distinguished from the trumpet by its more compact shape, conical bore and mellower tone quality.

The tam-tam is a double drum, traditionally played at weddings. It can be played by hand or with wooden sticks. There is also a type of gong known as the tam-tam.

The crotales, also known as antique cymbals, is a member of the percussion family. It is made of small, tuned brass or bronze discs. It has a flat top surface and may be played with mallets.

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