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The earliest musical instruments were probably discovered when someone blew on a blade of grass, plucked on a sinew from an animal, or knocked two rocks together.

From those early experiments, an amazing array of instruments was born. Strings, keyboard, wind, percussion - all developed to accompany the beat of the culture they fit.

Some of the older forms are still recognizable in the instruments played today, but some ancient musical instruments fell out of use when their civilizations disappeared. Some still survive in their modern form, or merely in the imaginations of those who wonder what they might have sounded like.

Just up ahead, check out top resources to popular, unusual, and downright exotic musical instruments across time and the Web ...

More about musical instruments around the Web:

Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments - Get a college education at this site's major 1,000-piece collection in an online exhibit.

Atlas of Plucked Instruments - Check out descriptions, complete with photos of musical instruments including guitars, banjos, mandolins, and more exotic types from around the world.

audio soundLearn About Musical Instruments - This delightful offering provides a kid-friendly introduction to the world of musical instruments. Easy to follow descriptions and history of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion instruments. Audio clips let the sounds be heard...

audio soundGuide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments - Musical forms that are always popular, the starkly simple chants and more elaborate melodies that amused Europeans in the "dark" days of the Middle Ages called for instruments that could produce a wide range of notes. An illustrated, in-depth look at over 30 instruments including the harp, bagpipes, organetto, pipe and tabor, the recorder, with audio files and related links.

Arab Musical Instruments - Whether you were born into this culture or discovered the exotic beauty of the sounds inspired by Northern Africa's Arab nations, you'll be thrilled at the selection of information at this site. Excellent overview of the 'ud, tablah, qanun, nay, mijwiz, buzuq, and daff with illustrated thumbnail histories.

China Musical Instruments - Historical timeline, plus 26 traditional Chinese instruments via clickable thumbnails that lead to larger images and brief descriptions of the erhu, sheng, sanxian gong, the souna and more.

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