From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator (usually a tube), in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into (or over) a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of the effective length of the vibrating column of air.
Techniques for obtaining ranges of notes
- opening and closing holes in the side of the tube to adjust the effective length of the vibrating air column (this can be done by covering the holes with fingers or pressing a key which then closes the hole). This is most common on woodwind instruments.
- engaging valves (see rotary valve, piston valve) which re-route the air through additional tubing. This increases the total tube length, thereby lowering the fundamental pitch. Used on brass instruments.
- lengthening the tube with a sliding mechanism (as on the trombone)
- making the column of air vibrate at different harmonics (see harmonic series).
Types of wind instruments
Wind instruments fall into one of the following categories:
- Brass instruments
- Woodwind instruments
Although brass instruments were originally made of brass and woodwind instruments have traditionally been made of wood, the material used to make the body of the instrument is not always a reliable guide to its family type. For example, the saxophone is typically made of brass but is classified as a woodwind instrument due to the fact that it has a reed. On the other hand, the cornett (not to be confused with the made-of-brass cornet) and serpent, although made of wood (or PVC pipe in the case of modern serpents), are in the family of brass instruments because the vibration which originates the sound is done with the lips of the player.
A more accurate way to determine whether an instrument is brass or woodwind is to examine how the player produces sound. In brass instruments, the player's lips vibrate, causing the air within the instrument to vibrate. In woodwind instruments the player either: 1. causes a reed to vibrate, which agitates the column of air (as in a clarinet or oboe), 2. blows against an edge or fipple (as in a recorder), or 3. blows across the edge of an open hole (as in a flute).
In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, wind instruments are classed as aerophones.
The bell of a wind instrument is the round, flared opening opposite the mouthpiece. It is found on horns, trumpets and many other kinds of instruments. On brass instruments, the acoustical coupling from the bore to the outside air occurs at the bell for all notes, and the shape of the bell optimizes this coupling. On woodwinds, most notes vent at the uppermost open tone holes; only the lowest notes of each register vent fully or partly at the bell, and the bell's function in this case is to improve the consistency in tone between these notes and the others.
- Musical instrument
- Concert band