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Wind Instruments: Types and Examples


The group of instruments that makes sound because of the passage of air from the mouth of a person is called wind instruments. The air causes a vibration to occur that allows the musical tone to be made. The changing of the airflow creates different pitches. The holes that line the instrument are to manage tone changes. Based on the combination of finger placements the sound will change. The sounds are very different based on the size and shape of the wind instrument. Wind instruments fall into two groups. They are called either brass or woodwind.

A big factor that helps to tell them apart is the type of mouthpiece used. Another difference between brass and woodwind instruments is that when you play woodwind you will see that the sound reproduces in all directions at about the same level. Brass instruments on the other hand send the sound out straight ahead only. This can be a big consideration when recording music or being part of a marching band.

Not surprisingly woodwind instruments were given this name because originally they were all made from wood. Nowadays this is not necessarily the case. These are most often shaped like a tube with the length of the tube being a prime factor in the pitch of the instrument. As you cover the holes you lengthen the tube inside. This makes the sound lower. If you cover all the holes the lowest note will be heard. The contemporary instruments have keys that can cover the holes for you. The woodwind group is made up of five families of instruments. These are the clarinets, flutes, bassoons, oboes and saxophones.

Although a woodwind instrument they are now more likely to be made of metal. Flutes make their unique sound more like the way a whistle works There are four kinds beginning with the largest they are the bass flute, alto flute, flute and piccolo. Their sound ranges from the shrill high-pitched piccolo to the deep bass flute.

Clarinets began their rise in popularity in the early seventeen hundreds. The current most popular of these is the B-flat clarinet. The music from a clarinet is made by the vibration of air along the reed attached to the mouthpiece. Clarinets are not only popular in classical music but in jazz as well.

Saxophones are the newest members of the woodwind group. This group has five different types bass, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano. They range in sound from the deep of the bass to the high pitch of the soprano. The oboe is a double reed instrument with the sound being made by the vibration of two reeds against one another. There are three different types in this group each with its own distinctive sound. Lastly there are the bassoons. They also have the double reeds. There is also a larger one known as the contrabassoon.

Brass instruments were given their name because originally they were all made of brass. What makes them different is that the sound is made more by the vibration of the lips against the mouthpiece then just the air that is being blown into the instrument. You can divide these into two distinctive categories. One group has valves. There are usually three or four but can be as many as seven. Musicians use them to modify the way the sound comes out. Moving the valves with the fingers does this. Some of the instruments that use this system are the horn, trumpet and tuba. The other group uses the method of changing sound by using the slide. Only the trombone family uses the slide.

Trumpets are cylindrical in shape. They have three valves. The trumpet makes a high piercing sound. In the trumpet family is also the cornet which has a much more mellow sound. Then there is the flugelhorn with its mysterious foreboding sound and the bugle that is a trumpet that has no valves. Horns, also called French horns, are very unusual, as they are played left handed. They are the only brass instrument played by this method. Trombones are also known as big trumpets, which is in fact what the word trombone means in its original Italian.

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