See also: Saxophone
To learn more about the different instruments, click the appropriate
instrument on the image above.
The Woodwind section of the orchestra is forever associated with
smooth, intimate phrases and haunting, spiritual melodies. When used in conjunction
with the strings, the two sections complement each other perfectly and in the hands of a
talented composer brilliant contrasts of tone and texture can be established.
The Woodwind section can be divided into two categories, those with
reeds (Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon) and those without (Flute and Piccolo). In both
cases, the sound is produced when the player blows into the mouthpiece setting the air
within the pipe vibrating. In reed instruments, this is caused by a vibrating cane
attached to the mouthpiece, whereas in the case of the flute and the piccolo, the sharp
edge of the lip plate is sufficient to produce the sound wave. The pitch of the note
produced depends on two factors. The length of the covered pipe and the strength
with which the player blows. Blowing more forcefully causes the air column to split
into two or three sections, raising the pitch of the note.
Pipes and Flutes from whom all Woodwind are descended are among the
most primitive of all instruments, however it is only in the 19th century that they
achieved their present designs when the complex key mechanisms which are now an integral
part of the instrument were invented. Not all Woodwind instruments are made of wood.
The Flute for example is made of metal giving it a brighter tone and cheaper
clarinets may be made from plastic.
You can learn more about Woodwind by reading about the Flutes, Clarinets, Oboes,
Bassoons and Piccolo.