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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

World Music

This guide can help you begin upper level research into ethnomusicology and world music topics.


Identifying and studying unfamiliar instruments is an important part of world music research.  This page collects resources to help you learn about musical instruments from around the world as well as find examples of what they look and sound like.

Suggested Library Resources

Below you'll find several key reference books for the study of musical instruments from around the world.

Research Tip: Before exploring the books below, it may help to become familiar with the Hornbostel-Sachs system of instrument classification, which categorizes instruments according to their manner of producing sound.

The Hornbostel-Sachs system is used frequently in discussions of instruments from around the world, and reading some brief background will help you better navigate the resources on the rest of this page.

Sounds of Specific Instruments

Images of Instruments

If you are looking for images of different musical instruments, check out some of the collections linked below. There are several major musical instruments collections - at universities, museums, and societies - that include instrument photographs for patrons to browse online.