1. Oboe
Oboe Top 1 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

Oboes are a family of double reed woodwind instruments. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials. A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed and vibrating a column of air. The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as “bright”.[1] When oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the cor anglais English horn.

2. French Horn
French Horn Top 2 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the “horn” in some professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. The double horn in F/B♭ (technically a variety of German horn) is the horn most often used by players in professional orchestras and bands. A musician who plays any kind of horn is generally referred to as a horn player (or less frequently, a hornist).

Pitch is controlled through the combination of the following factors: speed of propulsion of air through the instrument (controlled by the player’s lungs and thoracic diaphragm); diameter and tension of lip aperture (controlled by the player’s lip muscles—the embouchure) in the mouthpiece; plus, in a modern French horn, the operation of valves by the left hand, which route the air into extra sections of tubing.

3. Violin

Violen Top 3 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The violin, also known informally as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments are known, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

4. Organ

Organ Top 4 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

Pipe organs use air moving through pipes to produce sounds. Since the 16th century, pipe organs have used various materials for pipes, which can vary widely in timbre and volume. The pipes are divided into ranks and controlled by the use of hand stops and combination pistons. Although the keyboard is not expressive as on a piano and does not affect dynamics, some divisions may be enclosed in a swell box, allowing the dynamics to be controlled by shutters. Some organs are totally enclosed, meaning that all the divisions can be controlled by one set of shutters. Some special registers with free reed pipes are expressive. These instruments vary greatly in size, ranging from a cubic yard to a height reaching five floors,[4] and are built in churches, synagogues, concert halls, and homes. Small organs are called “positive” (easily placed in different locations) or “portative” (small enough to carry while playing). Increasingly hybrid organs are appearing in which pipes are augmented with electronic additions. Great economies of space and cost are possible especially when the lowest (and largest) of the pipes can be replaced.

5. Harp

Harp Most Difficult Musical Instrument to play

The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers. Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3500 BCE. The instrument had great popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it evolved into a wide range of variants with new technologies, and was disseminated to Europe’s colonies, finding particular popularity in Latin America. Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia, descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa, and other defunct variants in Europe and Asia have been utilized by musicians in the modern era.

6. Bagpipe

Bagpipe Top 6 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The bagpipes are a musical instrument. They are sometimes just called “pipes”. They have a bag that holds air. The player keeps the bag full of air by blowing into it with a tube or pumping it with a bellows. To make music, the bag is pressed and the air comes out through a kind of flute or “chanter”. There are usually one or more other tubes coming from the bag that make sounds whenever the bag is squeezed, called “drones”. Each drone normally plays a different note, and stays on the same note the whole time it is playing, to play a harmony with the “chanter”. The sounds are made by a single or, more commonly, double reed which vibrates when air is blown over it.

Scotland is traditionally linked to the bagpipes, and many pipe tunes come from there. Many, many other places, however, also have different types of bagpipes: over all of Europe, some of North Africa, and into the Middle East.

7. Piano

Piano Top 7 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The piano was founded on earlier technological innovations in keyboard instruments. Pipe organs have been used since Antiquity, and as such, the development of pipe organs enabled instrument builders to learn about creating keyboard mechanisms for sounding pitches. The first string instruments with struck strings were the hammered dulcimers, which were used since the Middle Ages in Europe. During the Middle Ages, there were several attempts at creating stringed keyboard instruments with struck strings. By the 17th century, the mechanisms of keyboard instruments such as the clavichord and the harpsichord were well developed. In a clavichord, the strings are struck by tangents, while in a harpsichord, they are mechanically plucked by quills when the performer depresses the key. Centuries of work on the mechanism of the harpsichord in particular had shown instrument builders the most effective ways to construct the case, soundboard, bridge, and mechanical action for a keyboard intended to sound strings.

8. Accordions

Accordions Top 8 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

Accordions are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type, colloquially referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist. The concertina and bandoneón are related; the harmonium and American reed organ are in the same family.

The instrument is played by compressing or expanding the bellows while pressing buttons or keys, causing pallets to open, which allow air to flow across strips of brass or steel, called reeds. These vibrate to produce sound inside the body. Valves on opposing reeds of each note are used to make the instrument’s reeds sound louder without air leaking from each reed block. The performer normally plays the melody on buttons or keys on the right-hand manual, and the accompaniment, consisting of bass and pre-set chord buttons, on the left-hand manual.

9. Classical Guitars

Classical Guitars Top 9 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The classical guitar (also known as concert guitar, classical acoustic, nylon-string guitar, or Spanish guitar) is the member of the guitar family used in classical music. It is an acoustical wooden guitar with strings made of nylon, rather than the metal strings used in acoustic and electric guitars. The traditional classical guitar has twelve frets clear of the body and is held on the left leg, so that the hand that plucks or strums the strings does so near the back of the soundhole (this is called the classical position). The modern steel string guitar, on the other hand, usually has fourteen frets clear of the body (see Dreadnought) and is commonly played off the hip.

10. Drums

Drums Top 10 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

Double-drumming was developed to enable one person to play the bass and snare with sticks, while the cymbals could be played by tapping the foot on a “low-boy”. With this approach, the bass drum was usually played on beats one and three (in 4/4 time). While the music was first designed to accompany marching soldiers, this simple and straightforward drumming approach eventually led to the birth of ragtime music when the simplistic marching beats became more syncopated. This resulted in a greater ‘swing’ and dance feel. The drum set was initially referred to as a “trap set”, and from the late 1800s to the 1930s, drummers were referred to as “trap drummers”. By the 1870s, drummers were using an “overhang pedal”. Most drummers in the 1870s preferred to do double drumming without any pedal to play multiple drums, rather than use an overhang pedal. Companies patented their pedal systems such as Dee Dee Chandler of New Orleans 1904–05. Liberating the hands for the first time, this evolution saw the bass drum played with the foot of a standing percussionist (thus the term “kick drum”). The bass drum became the central piece around which every other percussion instrument would later revolve.

11. Viola

Viola Top 11 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The viola is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

In the past, the viola varied in size and style as did its names. The word viola originates from Italian. The Italians often used the term: “viola da braccio” meaning literally: ‘of the arm’. “Brazzo” was another Italian word for the viola, which the Germans adopted as Bratsche. The French had their own names: cinquiesme was a small viola, haute contre was a large viola, and taile was a tenor. Today, the French use the term alto, a reference to its range.

12. Hardingfele

Hardingfele Top 12 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

A Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument used originally to play the music of Norway. In modern designs, this type of fiddle is very similar to the violin, though with eight or nine strings (rather than four as on a standard violin) and thinner wood. Four of the strings are strung and played like a violin, while the rest, aptly named understrings or sympathetic strings, resonate under the influence of the other four.

The Hardingfele is used mainly in the southwest part of Norway, whereas the ordinary violin (called flatfele – ‘flat fiddle’ or vanlig fele – ‘common fiddle’) is found elsewhere. The Hardingfele is used for dancing, accompanied by rhythmic loud foot stomping. It was also traditional for the fiddler to lead the bridal procession to the church.

13. Bellowphone

Bellowphone Top 13 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The Hungarian bellowphone is an assemblage of large fluted pipes, narrow pipes ending in flared bells, gas bags (bellows), various metallic, plastic, and fibrous percussive surfaces, and an assortment of smallish mouth-operated instruments (e.g., double reeds, combs, harmonicas, jaw harps, and kazoos). The instrument is traditionally played by two people at once, with the use of all four hands and feet to operate the bellows and strike the percussion, and both mouths to play the small oral instruments. Though traditionally a duet instrument, there have been a few remarkably talented individuals over the last epoch that have managed to attain great reknown as solo bellowphonists, the most famous of which is the multidextrous Galin Pernambue.

14. Gameleste

Gameleste Top 14 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The gameleste expands the possibilities for new and creative sounds and allows the musician to experiment with sounds that would other wise be nearly impossible to harness. For instance, gamelan requires a large group of trained musicians to play, but with this instrument a single person can use the general timbre of a gamelan for their own musical experimentation. Considering that this instrument retains the form of the celeste as a keyed instrument it can still be notated like a piano in western staff notation, which further extends the possibility of its use to all musicians.

Bjorks creativity with the invention and use of the gameleste shows that new instruments can be created and explored without hindering the music itself. New instruments can only be beneficial for music. They sometimes may not be appealing to the musical community but without them progress within music cannot be made. I think the gameleste is a wonderful invention that helps span the gap between western music and that of Indonesia. Bjork’s “Virus” pushes music into new territories and I happily travel along as I listen to this music.

15. Wheelharp

Wheelharp Top 15 Most Difficult Music Instruments to Play

The wheelharp is a musical instrument with bowed strings controlled by a keyboard and foot-controlled motor, similar to Leonardo da Vinci’s Viola organista, a keyboard-operated string instrument for continuously sounding strings by rubbing the strings with spinning wheels, powered by a treadle controlled by one foot of the musician. Created by Jon Jones and Mitchell Manger, the wheelharp debuted at the 2013 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it “looks and works like a cross between a harpsichord and a hurdy-gurdy: a motor driven wheel spins, rubbing against strings when the player depresses a key”.

However, the principle of bowed strings in a keyboard instrument is old. Michael Praetorius Syntagma Musicum depicted a Nürnbergisch Geigenwerk.