A musical instrument is a device which has been designed or adapted to produce musical sounds. Generally speaking, any thing that generates sound may be called a musical instrument; nevertheless, it is only when the object is used for musical purposes that the object is regarded a musical instrument. An instrumentalist is a musician who specialises in the performance of a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments may be traced back to the dawn of human civilization. A horn to mark success on the hunt, or a drum to accompany a religious function, are examples of early musical instruments that may have been employed for rituals. Cultures gradually gained the ability to compose and execute songs for the sake of amusement. Musical instruments have developed in tandem with the evolution of applications and technology in use today.
The exact date and location of the first contraption regarded to be a musical instrument are up for debate. The earliest artefact that some academics consider to be a musical instrument, a rudimentary flute, has been around for as long as 67,000 years, according to some researchers. Early flutes were invented some 37,000 years ago, according to certain estimates. Most historians, however, feel that pinpointing a particular date for the birth of musical instruments is difficult since many early musical instruments were constructed of animal skins, bone, wood, and other non-durable materials such as bone and wood.
Many of the world's most populous areas have evolved their own musical instruments independently of one another. Contact between civilizations, on the other hand, resulted in the quick proliferation and adaption of most instruments in regions distant from their original locations. In during post-classical period, instruments originating in Mesopotamia were found in maritime Southeast Asia, while Europeans were playing instruments originating in North Africa. The Americas developed at a slower rate than the rest of the world, yet the civilizations of North, Central, and South America had a common set of musical instruments.
By 1400, the development of musical instruments had stalled in many locations and had been dominated by the Occident. It was during the Classical and Romantic eras of music, which spanned around 1750 to 1900, that numerous innovative new musical instruments were created. While the growth of conventional musical instruments stagnated in the first half of the twentieth century, the widespread availability of electricity resulted in the creation of new electronic instruments such as electric guitars, synthesisers, and the theremin, among others.
Musical instrument categorization is a distinct field of study in and of itself, and several classification systems have been developed throughout the years. Instruments may be classed according to their effective range, material composition, size, function, and other characteristics. The most prevalent academic technique, Hornbostel–Sachs, on the other hand, makes advantage of the mechanisms by which they generate sound. Organology is the academic study of musical instruments, and it is a branch of musicology.