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Code: 100637 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500240 Musicology OB 2 1
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Jordi Ballester Gibert

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


This course has no prerequisites.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The aim of the course is to provide an introduction to musical instruments, their history, their individual characteristics and their classification. 

This introduction focuses on:

- An overview of the main currents of organology.

- An overview of the classification of musical instruments.

- The identification of the different families of musical instruments.

- The social and historical contextualization of musical instruments.


  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Identify and compare the different channels of reception and consumption of music in society and in culture in each period.
  • Identify the historical functioning and evolution of musical instruments.
  • Recognise and appreciate musical manifestations in non-western, traditional, popular and urban cultures.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Applying the knowledge of cultural variability and its genesis to avoid ethnocentric projections.
  2. Demonstrate basic knowledge of research methodology in the field of organology.
  3. Identify and situate in the consumption of music in each period and each culture the corresponding musical instruments.
  4. Identify and situate the main musical instrument in non-wester, traditional, popular and urban cultures.
  5. Identify the main concepts related to organology as well as the vocabulary specific to it.
  6. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  7. Integrate knowledge acquired in the production of clear and concise appropriate to the academic and specialist communication.
  8. Locate the main types of musical instrument in their correct historical context.
  9. Prepare oral presentations on an analytical question and adapt them to the level and expectations of the audience or group.
  10. Produce correct, precise and clear argumental and terminological writing of knowledge acquired, both in the area of musical specialisation and dissemination.
  11. Use basic vocabularyand tools to describe and transmit knowledge acquired through effective oral presentations of musicological content adapted to the audience.
  12. Value and manage the main documentary and archive sources related to music instruments.


I- Organology and classification of musical instruments: 

1. Concept of ‘musical instrument’

2. Concept of ‘organology’

3. Concept of ‘classification of musical instruments’

4. Methodologies of classifications

5. Hornbostel-Sachs classification (and other Western classifications)

6. Non-western classifications 

II- Western musical instruments: their characteristics, history and social context: 

1. String instruments

   1.1. Harps

   1.2. Zithers

   1.3. Lutes

   1.4. Lyres

2. Wind instruments

   2.1. Edge instruments

   2.2. Reed instruments

   2.3. Labrosone instruments

3. Membranophones

4. Idiophones

5. Electrophones


Several teaching-learning strategies will be combined in order to achieve the objectives of the course:

- Lectures: teacher will explain the basic concepts of the subject.

- Practical activities and tasks: students will work individually or in small groups to solve practical activities.

- External lecturers: external lecturers can be occasionally invited to bring their expertise on a particular issue.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Classroom discussions 9 0.36 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 8, 11, 12
External lecturers 3 0.12 5, 4, 3, 8, 12
Lectures 24 0.96 5, 4, 3, 8, 12
Type: Supervised      
Oral and written tasks (individual) 6 0.24 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12
Oral discussions and written tasks (group) 6 0.24 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 7, 9, 8, 11, 12
Type: Autonomous      
Readings 28 1.12 1, 10, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 8, 12
Study 50 2 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 8, 12


a. Written test on the classification of musical instruments (40%) [it will be held mid-semester]

b. Written exam on Western musical instruments (40%) [it will be held at the end of the semester]

c. Critical review of a book (10%) [this review must be handed in before the end of the third month of the term]

d. Participation in classroom discussions, group tasks and presentations (5%)

e. Class attendance (5%) [a minimum of 80% is required for acceptable attendance]  

Grade revision process 

After each assessable item is given a grade, students will be informed of the date and way in which they will be published. Students will also be informed of the procedure, place, date and time of grade revision (following University regulations).

Resitting Process 

A resit will be held for students whose grade average is lower than 5 points out of 10. However, in order to take part in the resit, students must have been previously assessed in, at least, 80% of the assessment activities. The date of the resit exam will be posted in the calendar of the Faculty assessment activities. 


A student submitting less than 50%of grading tasks, will be considered as 'non-assessable'.

Important: In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Class attendance (a minimum of 80% is required for acceptable attendance) 5% 0 0 1, 5, 4, 3, 6, 8
Critical review of a book 10% 21 0.84 1, 10, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 7, 8, 12
Exam 40% 1.5 0.06 1, 10, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 7, 8, 12
Group tasks and presentations 2.5% 0 0 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 9, 8, 11, 12
Participation in classroom discussions 2.5% 0 0 1, 2, 5, 4, 3, 6, 9, 8, 11, 12
Written test on classifications 40% 1.5 0.06 1, 10, 2, 5, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12



A- On classifications of musical instruments:

HORNBOSTEL, Erich M. von - SACHS Curt, "Classification of Musical Instruments" The Galpin Society Journal XIV (1961), p. 3-29 [Online resource:

https://cataleg.uab.cat/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1631066__Sgalpin%20society%20journal__Orightresult__U__X8;jsessionid=9CF67CE79C61430A6C58028929305339?lang=cat&suite=def ]. See also: http://www.mimo-international.com/documents/hornbostel%20sachs.pdf and https://www.dropbox.com/s/4fsqp2s1iwrrale/Serrano%20Godoy%2C%20Javier.%20Clasificaci%C3%B3n%20de%20los%20instrumentos%20musicales.%20CIMCIM-MIMO%202011_%202017.pdf 

KARTOMI, Margaret J., On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1990).


B1- Historical sources:

AGRICOLA, Martin, Musica instrumentalis deudsch (Wittenberg, 1528-29; 1545)[Hettreck, W. E. (trad. i ed.) The Musica instrumentalis deudsch of Martin Agricola (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)].               

BAINES, Anthony C., "Fifteenth-century Instruments in Tinctoris's De Inventione et Usu Musicae" The Galpin Society Journal  III (1950), p. 19-26.        

MERSENNE, Marin, Harmonie Universelle (Paris, 1636-37/R. R. E. Chapman, La Haia: Martinus Nijhoff, 1957 / Facsímil, Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975).

PAGE, Christopher, “Fourteenth-century Instruments and Tunings: a Treatise by Jean Vaillant? (Berkeley Ms. 744)” The Galpin Society Journal XXXIII (1980), p. 17-35.

PEDRELL, Felip, Emporio científico e histórico de organografía musical antigua española (Barcelona: Imp. Juan Gili, 1901).

PRAETORIUS, Michael, Syntagma Musicum II: De Organographia (Wolfenbüttel, 1618 / R. D. Z. Crookes; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).

ROUSSIER, Pierre-Joseph (ed), Textes sur les instruments de musique au XVIIIe siècle (Genève: Minkoff, 1972).

VIRDUNG, Sebastian, Musica Getutscht (Bâle, 1551 /R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).


B2- General references:

BAINES, Anthony C., Historia de los instrumentos musicales (Madrid: Taurus, 1988).

BAINES, Anthony C. (ed), The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

BALLESTER, Jordi, Els instruments musicals a la Corona d’Aragó (1350-1500): Els cordòfons (Sant Cugat del Vallès: Amelia Romero, 2000).

BENADE, Arthur H., Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics (New York: Dover, 1976 /R. 1990).

BORDAS, Cristina - VÁZQUEZ, Elena (eds.), Colecciones de instrumentos musicales. Recomendaciones para su gestión (Madrid: Centro de Documentación de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música. INAEM, 2019) https://www.musicadanza.es/ficheros/documentos/colecciones-de-instrumentos

CALVO-MANZANO, Antonio, Acústica físico-musical (Madrid: Real Musical, 1991).

CAMPBELL, Murray, Musical instruments: history, technology and performance of instruments of Western music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

DONINGTON, Robert, La música y sus instrumentos (Madrid: Alianza, 1982 /R.1986). [DONINGTON, R., Los instumentos de música (Madrid: Alianza, 1962)].

FERNÁNDEZ DE LA GÁNDARA, Gonzalo ‑ LORENTE, Miguel, Acústica musical (Madrid: ICCMU, 1996).

MAIDEU, Joaquim, Instruments musicals (Vic: Eumo, 1995).

MONTAGU, Jeremy, Origins and development of musical instruments (Lanham: The Scarecrow press, 2007).

REMNANT, Mary, Historia de los instrumentos musicales (Barcelona: De. Robinbook - MaNonTroppo, 2002).

RÉVEILLAC, Jean-Michel, Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments (London:Iste, 2019).

SACHS, Curt, The History of Musical Instruments (New York: Norton, 1940 / R. Mineola : Dover Publications, 2006).

TRANCHEFORT, François-René, Los instrumentos musicales en el mundo (Madrid: Alianza, 1985 / R. 1994).


C- Dictionaries and Catalogues:

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 1980 / R. 2001) & The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (London, 1985). Online version: https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.are.uab.cat/

ANDRÉS, Ramón, Diccionario de instrumentos musicales. De Píndaro a J.S. Bach (Barcelona: Bibliograf, 1995).

BORDAS, Cristina, Instrumentos musicales en colecciones españolas (Madrid: Ministerio de Educación y Cultura – Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 1999).

MAERSCH, Klaus - ROHDE, Ulrich - SEIFFERT, Otto - SINGER, Ute, Atlas de los instrumentos musicales (Madrid: Alianza, 1994).


D- Journals:

The Galpin Society Journal

Musique - Images - Instruments

Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 

Links (museums and associations):

MIMO – Musical Instruments Museums Online: https://mimo-international.com/MIMO/default.aspx?_lg=ca-ES

Musée des instruments de musique (MIM): http://www.mim.be/fr

Museu de la Música de Barcelona: www.museumusica.bcn.es

Museo Interactivo de la Música de Málaga: www.musicaenaccion.com

Asociación Instrumenta: https://www.instrumenta.es/