A membranophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by way of a vibrating stretched membrane. It is one of the four main divisions of instruments in the original Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification.

Most membranophones are drums. Hornbostel-Sachs divides drums into three main types: struck drums, where the skin is hit with a stick, the hand, or something else; string drums, where a knotted string attached to the drum's skin is pulled, passing its vibrations onto the skin; and friction drums, where some sort of rubbing motion causes the skin to vibrate (a common type has a stick passing through a hole in the skin which is pulled back and forth).

In addition to drums, there is another kind of membranophone, called the singing membranophone, of which the best known type is the kazoo. These instruments modify a sound produced by something else, commonly the human voice, by having a skin vibrate with it.


The Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification divides membranophones in a numeric taxonomy based on how the sound is produced:

  • 21: by hitting the drumskin with a hand or object (most common form, including the timpani and snare drum)
  • 22: by pulling a knotted string attached to the drumskin (common in Indian drums, and can be considered an example of a chordophone as well)
  • 23: by rubbing the drumskin with a hand or object (common in Irish traditional music, an example is the bodhran)
  • 24: by modifying sounds through a vibrating membrane (unusual form, including the kazoo) [1]
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Membranofoon
Alemannisch: Membranophon
български: Мембранофон
català: Membranòfon
čeština: Membranofon
Deutsch: Membranophon
Ελληνικά: Μεμβρανόφωνο
español: Membranófono
Esperanto: Membranofono
euskara: Menbranofono
français: Membranophone
Gaeilge: Scannánafón
한국어: 막명악기
Bahasa Indonesia: Membranofon
italiano: Membranofoni
lietuvių: Membranofonai
македонски: Мембранофон
Nederlands: Membranofoon
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Membranafon
polski: Membranofony
português: Membranofone
русский: Мембранофон
slovenščina: Membranofoni
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Membranofoni instrumenti
svenska: Membranofon
Tagalog: Membranopono
українська: Мембранофони