a) To acquire knowledge on the essential functioning principles of music instruments throughout the various periods of the History of Western Music;
b) To learn to contextualize the sound identity of the different groups of instruments (idiophones; membranophones; chordophones, aerophones and electrophones);
c) To familiarize oneself with the instruments of the different historical periods from Greek and Roman Antiquity to our own day;
d) To fathom the application of criteria for establishing a systematic division of music instruments;
e) To be able to conduct bibliographical research in order to prepare the critical reading of studies and monographies in the relevant scientific area.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Rui Magno da Silva Pinto


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





Campbell, D. M. & altri (2004). Musical Instruments, History, Technology, and Performance of Instruments of Western Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hagel, S. (2009). Ancient Greek Music. A New Technicak History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
Henrique, L. (2004). Instrumentos musicais. Lisboa. FCG (3ª ed.).
Kartomi, M. (1990). On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Mathiesen, T. (1999). Apollo's Lyre. Greek Music and Music Theory in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Michels, U. (2003, 2007). Atlas de Música, 2 vols. Lisboa: Gradiva. 
Montagu, J. (1976). The World of Medieval and Renaissance Musical Instruments. Londres: David & Charles.
Montagu, J. (1979), The World of Baroque and Classical Musical Instruments. New York: The overlook press
Montagu, J. (1981), The World of Romantic and Modern Musical Instruments. Londres: David & Charles.

Teaching method

The course is divided into 60% theoretical and 40% practical classes which are established in a plan where their respective subjects are defined beforehand. Theoretical classes are dedicated to the exposition of the subjects defined in the programmatic contents, with space allowed for discussion and questions by the students. Systematic use is made of Powerpoint presentations with images, videos and music recordings. Considering the specificity of certain subjects, the collaboration of 3 other teachers is included (10 hours).
Practical classes are reserved for the critical reading of texts, practical demonstrations of instruments, study visits and evaluation moments.

Evaluation method

Método de avaliação - an oral test (at the end,(50%), a written test (usually taken in mid-semester(50%)

Subject matter

The attempts to systematically classify music instruments from the Antiquity to the 20th century. The Hornbostel and Sachs classification: sound bases defined by the constituting material itself, membranes, strings, an air column or electrical current. From the Greco-Roman Antiquity to the Middle Ages: problems of characterization and terminology of musical instruments. The proliferation of new instruments during the Renaissance. The chordophones with keys. The Theatrum Instrumentorum of Michael Praetorius (1620). The Baroque period and the assertion of new instruments which will be at the basis of the modern orchestra. Cristofori, the invention of the piano and its spread from the 1770’s onwards. The 19th century as a period of massification and the resulting changes in music instruments. Electrophones. 


Programs where the course is taught: