Hornbostel-Sachs System

It is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914. An English translation was published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1961.

It is the most widely used system for classifying musical instruments by ethnomusicologists and organologists; people who study musical instruments. The system was updated in 2011 as part of the work of the Musical Instrument Museums Online [MIMO] Project.

Authors note: My website utilizes a simplified version of the “Hornbostel Sachs System” omitting technical and vague sounding terms and keeping it close to plain language for search and ease of navigation throughout this site.


** Percussion
*** Clacks
*** Clappers
*** Lithophones
*** Metallophones
**** Cymbals
**** Gongs
*** Pitched
**** Xylophones
*** Scrappers
*** Shaken
**** Rattles


** Drums
*** Barrel
*** Cylinder
*** Frame
*** Kettle
*** Pot
*** Friction


** Flutes
** Reeds
** Trumpets

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