Musical Instruments

The Woodwind Family

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The piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, bassoon, clarinet, and saxophone are all instruments of the woodwind family. Most of these instruments were once of made of wood, and because they are played by blowing with air or wind, they are called woodwind.

All woodwind instruments are made out of a tube, usually with holes in it. When all holes are covered, air goes all the way to the end of the tube and makes a low sound. When the holes are open, the air goes only a little way and make a high sound. The woodwind instrument with the shortest tubing and the highest sound is the piccolo. To further increase their range of notes, most of the woodwind instruments come in different sizes (eg. soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, etc.).

Woodwind instruments may make sounds in three different ways. Some, like the flute, make a sound by blowing air across a tone hole. Single reed instruments, like the clarinet and saxophone, use a single piece of cane, which vibrates, to produce a sound. The oboe, English horn, and bassoon used a double reed, or two pieces of cane vibrating against each other, to make a sound.



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