Modern Instrument Introduction

From this point forward, the instruments that we will be reviewing are currently in use today. These “Modern” instruments have gone through many different incarnations as we have seen in the previous pages. There are several reasons that these changes were necessary, all of which will become evident as you learn more.


Keep in mind that most instruments are often classified by their musical range in comparison with other instruments in the same family. These terms are named after singing voice classifications:

Voice Range

Instrument Names

Soprano Flute, Violin, Trumpet, Clarinet
Alto Oboe, Viola, French Horn, Alto Saxophone, Alto Clarinet
Tenor Trombone, Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Baritone Horn, Baritone Saxophone, Euphonium, Cello, Bassoon
Bass Tuba, Double Bass, Bass Saxophone, Contra Bassoon, Bass Clarinet, Contra-bass Clarinet

Some instruments fall into more than one category. For example, the cello may be considered either tenor or bass, depending on how its music fits into the ensemble. The trombone may be alto, tenor, or bass, and the French horn may be bass, baritone, tenor, or alto, depending on which range it is played.