What is a Wind Instrument? #
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 or near 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.
Alright, I guess that’s sorta helpful. I mean, we’ve all made a loud sound down a cardboard tube as a kid, so it’s basically that.
Okay, so what about the difference between woodwind and brass?
Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone. There are two main types of woodwind instruments: flutes and reed instruments (otherwise called reed pipes).
Modern brass instruments generally come in one of two families:
Valved brass instruments use a set of valves […] operated by the player’s fingers that introduce additional tubing, or crooks, into the instrument, changing its overall length. […]
Slide brass instruments use a slide to change the length of tubing. The main instruments in this category are the trombone family, […]
So, uh, not super helpful. Reading a bit further though:
[T]he term “brass instrument” should be defined by the way the sound is made, as above, and not by whether the instrument is actually made of brass. Thus, one finds brass instruments made of wood, like the alphorn, the cornett, the serpent and the didgeridoo, while some woodwind instruments are made of brass, like the saxophone.
So, let’s just not give a shit, instead, let’s take a look at some of the main wind instruments and the defining features of their sounds.
psst, if you like this, check out the more serious NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert Moonhooch did back in 2014 (YouTube)
List of Wind Instruments #
Bagpipes aren’t just for classical Scottish music, check out The SIDH - Iridium, it’s a basically EDM + Bagpipes and fucking amazing.