Musical instruments give voices to the notes in a song. In fact, in music, “voicing” means which instruments play which notes. It also means where the notes are in a chord (top, middle, bottom).

Each of us has a unique voice. When you hear someone calling you from another room, you can tell who it is by their voice. Your dad’s voice is different from your mom’s voice, and their voices are different from yours!

In a song, if you want a note to sound a certain way, you will want to choose the instrument that will make its voice sound the way you want!

Harps sound different from trumpets which sound different from cellos, which sound different from flutes which sound different from drums, which sound…well, you get the idea. The better you know the sounds each instrument makes, the easier it is to decide what kind of voice you will give to the notes in your song!

Of course, each of us has an instrument built into our bodies: our voice! We can talk and sing and whisper and even yell if we have to. (It’s so much nicer not to yell unless there is a true need, like a fire in the house!) So there are lots of songs that are just written for our voices.

Just like us, instruments belong to families. And just like us, the instruments in families are similar in some ways to each other but completely unique in other ways. You can learn about instrument families more here.

Want to get to know each instrument’s voice? Click on the links below:

Alphabetical listing of instruments used around the world (grouped in families)

  • Accordion
  • Bagpipes
  • Banjo
  • Bass drum
  • Bassoon
  • Bell
  • Bongo
  • Castanets
  • Cello
  • Clarinet
  • Clavichord
  • Conga drum
  • Contrabassoon
  • Cornet
  • Cymbals
  • Double bass
  • Dulcian
  • Dynamophone
  • Electric Guitar
  • Fiddle
  • Flute
  • Flutophone
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gongs
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Harp
  • Harpsichord
  • Irish Flute
  • Jug
  • Kettledrum
  • Lute
  • Mandolin
  • Maracas
  • Metallophone
  • Musical box
  • Oboe
  • Ondes-Martenot
  • Organ
  • Piano
  • Piccolo
  • Quinticlave
  • Recorder
  • Saxophone
  • Shawm
  • Snare drum
  • Steel drum
  • Tambourine
  • Theremin
  • Triangle
  • Trombone
  • Trumpet
  • Tuba
  • Ukulele
  • Viola
  • Violin
  • Washboard
  • Xylophone
  • Yazheng
  • Zither

(Thanks to and for the above alphabetical listing!)