Wind instruments are musical instruments, the sound of which is formed by means of an oscillating air stream inside the body.
Winds are one of the oldest types of musical instruments. It can be assumed that the first primitive wind instruments were made from hollow tubes, for example, from a horn, or from a reed.
Over time, wind instruments have been modified and improved, and at the moment they can be divided according to the source of sound vibration and the material of manufacture. It is interesting that, despite the rather obvious, at first glance, terminology, the interpretation of the instrument’s belonging to any of the groups can vary. We decided to tell you what’s what, because knowing the principle of dividing wind instruments into types and groups will help you in choosing an instrument and will not let you get confused.
Wind instruments by the source of sound vibration
Labial wind instruments are instruments in which sound vibrations arise against the sharp edge of the case wall. All types of flutes, whistles and other pipes belong to this category.
Reed wind instruments are instruments, the sound vibrations of which are created from the vibration of a special resonating reed, which is in the air stream. Saxophones, bassoons, clarinets – all woodwinds with a reed, as well as harmonicas and organs can be attributed to this category.
The ear cushions form the sound from the vibrations of the musician’s lips, from the position of the tongue and the volume of his oral cavity. These instruments include trumpets, horns, trombones, French horns, etc.
In addition, tools can be classified by material of manufacture. However, there are nuances here. This classification has developed historically and is traditional, but wind instruments are made not only from wood and copper. It is better to consider this division conditional, referring to the method of sound production and playing technique, rather than to the material of the body.
Woodwinds are musical instruments in which the sound is generated by an air stream vibrating inside the body, and the pitch is adjusted by opening and closing special valves.
Historically, these tools were made from wood. A striking example of this is the flute. Made of a wooden tube, the body of the flute has openings, opening and closing which the musician can adjust the pitch.
However, many woodwinds, which are technically wood, are made from other materials. Modern orchestral flutes are made of plastic, aluminum and even glass, and the saxophone, whose principle of operation classifies it as a woodwind, has never been made of wood.
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Group of woodwind instruments
The oboe is a woodwind musical instrument, which is a hollow straight tube with many valves, the sound of which is generated in a special milking cane – a wooden tongue vibrating in an air stream. This melodious, slightly nasal and loud instrument is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most complex musical instrument. The oboe got its modern look in the second half of the 18th century and is now widely used in chamber and symphonic music.
The oboe is traditionally made from hardwoods, most often using ebony, rosewood, beech, boxwood or wild cherry. However, there is evidence of the creation of an ivory oboe.
This instrument has varieties, the most famous of which are the oboe d’amur, the English horn and the hackelfon.
Clarinet is a woodwind musical instrument in the form of a hollow tube with valves. It looks like an oboe, but it has a single cane. It was invented around 1700 in Nuremberg, is widely used in chamber and orchestral music, and is also widespread among jazz groups.
The clarinet design is constantly being improved, a rather complex valve mechanism is added and optimized.
The clarinet has a wide range, soft, warm sound and opens wide boundaries for the musician for expressive playing.
Bassoon – An interesting-looking woodwind instrument, which is a hollow tube with valves, somewhat reminiscent of that of an oboe. The bassoon sound originates in a twin reed, which is attached to the main body with a metal S-shaped tube.
The bassoon has a stifled, bass sound that unfolds in the lower and middle registers. Enriched with overtones, the sound of this instrument is used in symphony and brass bands, as well as in solo and ensembles.
The saxophone is one of the most famous woodwind instruments, invented in 1842 by the Belgian musical instrument designer Adolphe Sachs. Widely used in both orchestral and popular music, its appearance and sound have come to be associated with all wind instruments in principle.
Technically a woodwind, the saxophone was never made of wood. Usually, this tool is made from copper and zinc alloys, brass and pakfong. The sound of a saxophone is generated in a reed similar to a clarinet reed.
Vintage wooden tools
In addition to the main wooden instruments, there are old woodwinds, such as the recorder, bombard, whistle, shalme. The woodwind instrument among the peoples of the Caucasus Balaman (or balaban) is a vivid example of ancient wind instruments. The balaban is a hollow straight wooden tube with holes, at one end of which there is a reed mouthpiece. The construction of the balaban is very similar to the Georgian duduk, and has a similar screaming timbre.
A high-sounding woodwind instrument is, of course, a flute. Its pure, subtle, piercing sound is familiar to every person. Today the flute is a very popular instrument for teaching children in music schools.
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The lowest instrument of the woodwind group is the bassoon. Its rich, overtone sound is used in various orchestras.
According to the principle of operation, brass horns belong to ear cushions – in which the position of the musician’s lips and the strength of the air flow play an active role in creating and changing sound.
Brass wind instruments are called such because their first representatives were made of copper, but today brass, silver and duralumin are also used in production.
The first brass horns were simple bells, without additional mechanisms for changing the tone of the instrument. Such copper ones were called natural musical instruments, that is, they emit several sounds of a natural scale. Such instruments include horns, hunting horns, fanfares, signal horns. In our country, the most famous representative is the pioneer horn.
With the development of technology, the construction of brass instruments has become more and more complicated, and now, in addition to the natural scale, such instruments can produce a wide range of sounds.
The group of brass instruments is divided into several types:
Natural instruments are simple copper pipes and horns capable of reproducing only the natural scale. They are the most primitive spirits in the family. These include horns, horns, fanfare, and so on.
The rocker instruments are brass wind instruments, the sound range of which is expanded by lengthening the air flow using a retractable stage. A classic wind instrument with a wings – trombone.
Valve instruments are a type of brass instruments in which the pitch is regulated by special valves controlled by the musician. The valves open and close the air path to the additional pipes of the instrument, thereby raising and lowering its tone. At present, almost all modern brass horns are equipped with such a system: saxhorns, French horns, trumpets and tubas.
Valve instruments are a rare subtype of brass instruments, whose pitching and pitching systems work on the principle of wood instruments – through holes in the body that are opened and closed by the musician. Examples of such winds are the cornet, serpent, ophicleid and valve trumpet.
Another famous representative of brass instruments is the trumpet. The trumpet consists of three parts: a mouthpiece, a pipe and a bell. Depending on the complexity, it can either have a valve mechanism or not. This famous instrument has a bright, loud tone and is the highest-sounding brass instrument.
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The lowest sounding brass instrument is the helicon. This huge instrument is a large, valve-type cycling trumpet with a low, rumbling sound. Helikon is used in military bands, perfectly revealing its acoustic capabilities in the open air.
Electronic wind instruments
Recently, electronic musical instruments have received many new variations. Among them, electronic wind instruments appeared, which are a controller that sensitively reacts to the strength and nature of the incoming air, as well as to the pressing of buttons.
Such electronic wind controllers can control digital synthesizers, sound generators containing wind instrument samples. Thus, with the help of one such device, the musician is able to play with any timbre of a wind instrument, using all the usual methods of articulation and expression. Roland Aerophone AE-10 and AKAI PRO EWI4000S are examples of such instruments.