MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
LEARN ABOUT WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS
LEARN ABOUT BRASS INSTRUMENTS

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WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS

Woodwind instruments are not necessarily make of wood, many of them, like the saxophone, being metal, but they do require wind to make a sound. They consist basically of a tube, usually with a series of holes. Air is blown into the top of the tube, either across a hole or past a flexible reed. This makes the air inside the tube vibrate and give out a note. The pitch of the note depends on the length of the tube, a shorter tube giving a higher note, and also on which holes are covered. Blowing harder makes the sound louder.

KEYS AND CURVESsax1.gif (11032 bytes)

To produce deep notes, woodwind instruments have to be quite long. The tube is therefor curved so that the player can hold the instrument, as in this alto saxophone. Keys allow the fingers to open and close holes all along the instrument.

 

tube_c.gif (7657 bytes) ALL HOLES COVERED
Covering all seven holes in a simple pipe makes the air in the whole tube vibrate, giving the note middle C.

tube_g.gif (7522 bytes) FIRST THREE HOLES COVERED
This shortens the vibrating air column to two-thirds of the tube, giving the higher note G.

tube_e.gif (7552 bytes) FIRST FIVE HOLES COVERED
This extends the vibrating air column to four-fifths of the total length of the tube, giving an E.
edge_blown.gif (5425 bytes) EDGE-BLOWN WOODWINDS
In the flute and recorder, the player blows air over an edge in the mouthpiece. This sets the air column inside the instrument vibrating.
single_reed.gif (6244 bytes) SINGLE-REED WOODWINDS
In the clarinet and saxophone, the mouthpiece contains a single reed that vibrates to set the air column inside the instrument vibrating.
double_reed.gif (4391 bytes) DOUBLE-REED WOODWINDS
The oboe, cor anglais and bassoon have a mouthpiece made of a double reed that vibrates to set the air column inside the instrument vibrating.


FINGERHOLES
In a short and simple woodwind instrument,such as the recorder, the fingers can cover all the holes directly.
PADS
Several woodwinds have holes that are larger than the fingers, requiring the fingers to press pads to cover the holes.
KEYS
Holes that are out of reach of the fingers are covered by pressing sprung keys attached to pads.
Fingerholes, Pads, Keys

NOW LEARN ABOUT BRASS INSTRUMENTS