Aerofoni en

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In wind instruments, the air contained in an apposite tube is made to vibrate directly by the musician's breath or a mechanical device (as with the organ). These instruments are usually divided into distinct families based on the material used to build the tube.

Wind instruments (aerophones)

Without reed

With reed

With single reed

With double reed

With a free reed

Woodwind instruments

  • Oboe
  • English horn
  • Bassoon
  • Contrabassoon

Brass instruments

Other instruments

  • Organ (with flue pipes)
  • Harmonica
  • Accordion
  • Harmonium
  • Organ (with reed pipes)

Wood instruments

The family of wood instruments includes the piccolo, oboe, English horn, bassoon and contrabassoon. The following excerpts from Peter and the Wolf by S. S. Prokofiev are excellent examples of the piccolo, oboe and contrabassoon). The family also includes the clarinet, which is exemplified in this nostalgic theme taken from the second movement of W. A. Mozart's Concert for Clarinet and Orchestra K. 622 that was used in several breathtaking scenes in the film “Out of Africa”. Moreover, it includes all wind instruments (i.e. those based on the principle of injection of air in a tube open at one end) built of wood (except the traverse flute). Sound is produced by a (single or double) reed that, thanks to the stimulus of the musician's lips and breath, makes an air column vibrate inside a resonance tube that usually ends with a bell (a slightly cone-shaped flaring). The traverse flute, which belongs to this family even though it is not made of wood and has no reed, is perhaps one of the instruments that offers the greatest variety of articulations and timbres (e.g. Jethro Tull's famous solo, which is a jazz revisitation of a Bourrée by J. S. Bach with "staccato", flutter tonguing and other percussive effects). Sound pitch changes thanks to the multiple effect of air pressure changes, lip position changes and special keys moved by the fingers.

Brass instruments

The family of brass instruments includes the trumpet, trombone, horn, tuba, saxophone and all instruments based on the principle of injection of air through a mouthpiece in a brass bore. In this case, the vibrating reed (which excites the air column) is replaced by the lips themselves that do the same work. Sound pitch changes thanks to the double effect of air pressure and pistons or cylinders controlled by the fingers. Brass instruments (especially in large ensembles) often play “fanfares” or evocative musical motifs (as we can hear in this passage from the first movement of J. Brahms' Symphony no. 4). However, sometimes when playing solos, they can be employed in unusual ways (including: the long horn “solo” in the second movement of P. I. Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 5; the saxophone melody in the famous Bolero by M. Ravel; or the majestic use of the trumpet by E. Morricone in his many western film soundtracks, such as Once upon a Time in the West).


"Fisica, onde Musica": un sito web su fisica delle onde, acustica degli strumenti musicali, scale musicali, armonia e musica.

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