Contrary to the popular assumption that an idiophone is a wind instrument played by stupid people, an idiophone is actually a world music classification for instruments that produce sound from the material of the instrument itself without the assistance of reeds, strings, or other externally applied resonator. An idiophone produces sounds by one of the following methods:
- Concussion Idiophone: Sound is produced by striking together two objects capable of vibration. Examples are Claves, Cymbals, etc.
- Friction Idiophones: Sound is produced by rubbing the vibrating object. Examples are Glass Armonica, Musical Saw, etc.
- Percussion Idiophones: Sound is produced by striking the vibrating object with a mallet, hammer, stick or other non-vibrating object. Examples are Wood Block, Bell, Gong, etc.
- Plucked Idiophone: Sound is produced by plucking a flexible tongue. Examples are Jew’s Harp, Thumb Piano, Music Box, etc.
- Rattle Idiophone: Sound is produced by shaking the vibrating object. Examples are Maracas, Pellet Bells, etc.
- Scraped Idiophone: Sound is produced by scraping the vibrating object with a stick or other non-vibrating object. Examples are Ratchet, Guiro, Washboard, etc.
The most common Western instruments in this category belong to the percussion family. Examples include cymbals, triangle, gong and maracas.