If asked what instruments were played in European “classical” or “art” music, most people would think of the piano, the voice, and instruments used in the orchestra such as the violin, the oboe, or the trombone. Fewer would list the vielle, the shawm, the theorbo, or the sackbut, and yet all of these featured in music of their own times. In this course, we discuss the history of musical instruments: the roles they filled in society, the repertoire they played, the needs that led to their invention, change, or demise, and the idea of “period” performance. Each week, we focus on one period in history, from the medieval era through the general codification of accepted “art” instruments. Live demonstrations of instruments and concepts, as well as recordings, help bring to life, and literally to the ear, the sounds of “a thousand twangling instruments” – or at least some.