European Instruments Map
Here is a complete list of the national instruments by European country:
- Albania: Çiftelia
- Andorra: Sac de Gemecs
- Austria: Akkordolia
- Belarus: Parnyia dudki
- Belgium: Schäferpfeife
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Tamburica
- Bulgaria: Gaida
- Croatia: Lijerica
- Czech Republic: Bladder pipe
- Denmark: Birch trumpet
- Estonia: Rakkopilli
- Finland: Kantele
- Germany: Waldzither
- Greece: Aulos
- Hungary: Cimbalom
- Ireland: Uilleann Pipes
- Italy: Mandolin
- Latvia: Kokles
- Lithuania: Birbynė
- Macedonia: Šupelka
- Moldova: Cobza
- Montenegro: Gusle
- Netherlands: Fiddle
- Norway : Hardingfele
- Poland: Hammered Dulcimer
- Portugal: Portuguese Guitar
- Romania: Ütőgardon
- Russia: Garmon
- Serbia: Frula
- Slovakia: Fujara
- Slovenia: Accordion
- Spain: Guitar
- Sweden: Drejelire
- Switzerland: Alphorn
- Turkey: Saz
- Ukraine: Bandura
- United Kingdom: Concertina
Thought to have originated in Berlin in 1822, the accordion quickly became one of Slovenia’s most popular instruments. The diatonic button accordion is the heart of most Slovenian folk music, commonly heard at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and festivals.
Switzerland’s national instrument is the alphorn. This instrument originated in the early 1500s. People have used it since then to signal other villages in the mountains. The sound is so great that you can hear it up to 10 km away.
The aulos has a long-standing tradition in Grecian culture. It is a common symbol in Greek art, present in many myths and vital to traditional Greek music. The aulos is a double-reeded flute-like instrument.
The Ukrainian bandura looks like a combination of a lute and zither. It is pretty large, and musicians play it by strumming the strings. The first bandura appeared in 591, and it has since evolved from having 5-12 strings to 68.
The birbynė is Lithuania’s national instrument. It is an aerophone that can be single or double-reeded. Many people believe that the birbynė originated as a children’s toy and shepherding tool. In the 19th century, it became a prominent instrument for classical music.
Denmark is home to the birch trumpet. It is an unusual instrument with no holes, valves, or reeds. It is made from spruce and covered in birch bark. A skilled player can make around ten tones.
The Bladder pipe is a small bagpipe-like instrument with a single chanter, double-reed, and bladder. It has been around since the 13th century, but its origin is unknown. It is the national instrument of the Czech Republic.
France’s chabrette is a type of bagpipe from the Limousine region. It is likely from the 17th century, though it only regained popularity in the 1970s. The chabrette is less popular than other bagpipe variations but still has its place in France’s folk songs.
In Hungary, the cimbalom is a piano-like stringed percussion instrument in which the player taps the strings with mallets. The cimbalom came about in 1874. It is a modification of previous folk dulcimers.
The Moldova cobza is a lute-like instrument, most likely an adaptation of the Turkish oud or Persian barbat. It was brought to Romania in the 15th century and gained popularity in Moldova soon after.
The concertina is the national instrument of the U.K. Its first known use was in 1829. It is a free-reed instrument like the accordion or harmonica but is smaller and has fewer buttons than an accordion.
Albania’s çifteli looks much like the Japanese shamisen but only has two strings instead of three. It is also smaller and more rounded in design. The Gheg people of north and central Albania invented this unique instrument.
The Drejelire, commonly called a hurdy-gurdy, is the national instrument of Sweden. It is an adaptation of fiddles that includes a hand crank that functions like a violin bow and keys that work as a combination of piano keys and a fretboard. Though it looks complex, it produces a powerful sound.
A fiddle is a violin. It is a small, four-string instrument played with a bow. The name fiddle primarily refers to the type of music it plays, usually bluegrass, country, and folk. It is the national instrument of the Netherlands.
The frula is a wooden six-holed flute played in Serbia. It was initially a shepherding tool centuries ago, with an end-blown aerophone that looks more like a whistle than a modern flute.
The fujara is an old Slovakian instrument originally used as a sheepherding tool. It is usually between 160 and 200cm long, and musicians must play it while standing. The fujara is an overtone fipple flute.
Gaida is an umbrella term for bagpipes of southeastern Europe. There are two main types of gaida bagpipes found in Bulgaria; the kaba gaida for lower pitches and the dzhura gaida for higher pitches. The gaida originated in the Balkans sometime before 1892.
Russia’s garmon is a type of button accordion that became the first Russian-made accordion in the 1930s. The garmon includes two lines of buttons (25) on the right-hand side and three rows of buttons (26) on the left-hand side.
The guitar is a six-stringed instrument played by pressing the strings down against the fretboard and strumming or plucking. Guitars date back to the 12th century or earlier – they even appeared in the famous Babylonian murals. The modern guitar came about in Spain in the 16th century and has remained the country’s national instrument to this day.
Montenegro’s national instrument, the gusle, is a small, single-string, lute-like instrument. Interestingly, a musician plays it without pressing the string back. While nobody knows where the gusle originated from, people concur that it appeared around the 6th century when either the Slavs or Arabs brought it to the Balkans.
The hammered dulcimer is very similar to Hungary’s cimbalom. It is a stringed percussion instrument played with small, spoon-shaped mallets. The hammered dulcimer became popular in the middle ages. Still today, it is the national instrument of Poland.
The hardingfele is a fiddle with eight or nine strings and a thinner wooden body than violins. It originated in Norway around 1651 and had a rounder, narrower look at the time. It has since evolved to be more violin-like.
Finland’s kantele is a chordophone in the zither family, commonly used for traditional folk music. It has two standard versions: the small kantele with 15 or fewer strings and the concert kantele with 40 strings.
Like the Finish kantele, the Latvian kokle is a Baltic box string zither. Since the 17th century, authors have written about the kokle, but archaeological evidence shows they’ve been around since at least the 13th century.
The lijerica was present in Croatia as far back as the 9th century. It is a small, rounded string instrument that looks like a lute, but people play it with a bow as they would a fiddle.
Italy’s national instrument, the Mandolin, is a member of the lute family that evolved in Italy in the 17th century. Today, many versions of the Mandolin exist, including electric varieties with eight, ten, and 12 strings.
The indigenous peoples of Armenia created the parnyia dudki. It is a double-reeded instrument, usually played in pairs to create the desired song as the parnyia dudki does not have any fingering holes. It is the national instrument of Belarus.
The 12-string Portuguese guitar is an iconic instrument with Preston tuners and a round, lute-like body. It evolved from the Medieval citole in the 13th century and is heavily associated with the Fado genre of music.
The rakkopilli is a bagpipe instrument that does not have a drone. The drone is what produces harmonic sounds in addition to the chanter. The rakkopilli originated in the Voltic region and remains Estonia’s national instrument.
Sac de Gemecs
The sac de gemecs originated in the Middle East. It is a small bladder pipe with three drones and is the national instrument of Andorra. The sac de gemecs has roots in Andorran folklore.
The 7-stringed saz, also known as the bağlama, is a standard instrument in Turkish folk and classical music. There are many variations of the saz that differ by name, size, and play style, depending on the region.
The schäferpfeife is a two-drone German bagpipe that evolved in the 16th century from the single-drone bagpipe in the middle ages. Unusually the drones face forward rather than back. It is no longer a common instrument but remains alive as Belgium’s national instrument.
Macedonia’s šupelka is a traditional woodwind instrument with a two-octave scale. It is pretty small, between 240 and 350mm. It likely evolved from the Arabic gasba.
The tamburica is a family of long-necked lutes from before the Byzantine Empire, brought to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Turks. People play it in the same manner as the Mandolin.
As yet another version of bagpipes, the Uilleann Pipes are the national instrument of Ireland. These pipes evolved from the Scottish Lowland bagpipes in the 18th century. The pipes have small bellows to regulate the sound.
The waldzither is a mandolin-like instrument with zither influences that originated in Thuringia around 1900 and has since become the national instrument of Germany. It has nine strings and comes in a variety of tunings.