20 votes

Woodwind v brass instruments - what is the defining characteristic?

Musical instruments are classified by the way the sound is produced. The material is immaterial and brass and woodwind instruments can both be made from metal, plastic or wood. Woodwind instruments ...
user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

When composing for oboe, how useful is it to think about recorder fingerings?

NO, writing a tenor-recorder part for an oboist would be about as helpful as me giving you a sandwich to breath underwater. Each instrument responds very differently throughout their range, and while ...
user avatar
  • 25.1k
17 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

You begin by listening to individual instruments, to learn what they sound like, and the variations in their sound. Solo pieces, quartets, etc. are one way to do this. Searching Youtube for instrument ...
user avatar
  • 1,066
16 votes

Why are end-blown flutes shorter than their ideal length?

The vibrating air column in the bore extends past the openings of the tube. Any calculation of the pitch needs to take this into account and add end corrections for both ends of the flute. There's one ...
user avatar
  • 14.9k
15 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

There are several compositions written in purpose to present the orchestra, the instrument sections and the single instruments to the audience and especially for children like Peter and the wolf (...
user avatar
14 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

Get an idea, how each instrument sounds separately (as covered in other answers) Train to read scores of ensembles with increasing number of instruments while listening. For orchestra pieces like ...
user avatar
  • 9,973
11 votes
Accepted

having trouble reading some sheet music

On the assumption that if you added up the note values in the bar concerned, and they added up correctly WITHOUT the 'little notes', they will probably be grace notes. They have no value of their own, ...
user avatar
  • 173k
10 votes

Why can't oboes play softly while clarinets can?

In this admittedly limited study, they record one oboist using more than double (over 110 cm H2O) the blowing pressure to play fortissimo compared to two different clarinetists (both around 50 cm H2O),...
user avatar
  • 50.9k
10 votes

How many tone holes are there actually in different orchestral woodwind instruments?

Every wind instrument has a theoretically infinite range, which is only limited by the player's skill. The first octave is the fundamental, and then all higher notes are played as overtones of that ...
user avatar
  • 21.2k
10 votes
Accepted

Wind instruments: why is the left hand on top?

Western woodwind instruments were played with either hand on top up to the eighteenth century when keys started to be added. The first key on the modern flute was the D-sharp/E-flat key which was on ...
user avatar
  • 14.9k
10 votes

Is it difficult to transition from German fingering to Baroque fingering?

There are only a few differences between the two fingering systems. For a soprano (descant) recorder the main difference is for fingering F and F#. So, it shouldn't be too hard to transition between ...
user avatar
9 votes

How similar (or not) are recorder, fife, and flute fingerings?

Out of the entire extended flute family, you've managed to name three that are about as far apart as they get! However, I'd still say that all woodwind fingerings are more similar than not. The fife ...
user avatar
  • 21.2k
9 votes
Accepted

What is required in a hollow "tube" to resonate?

user65726's answer has some of the basics, but to expand on that a bit: The question asks for two things, which do not necessarily always come together: "musical stable pitches" and "harmonics." ...
user avatar
  • 11.9k
9 votes

Why are end-blown flutes shorter than their ideal length?

I'm afraid, that the question boils down to Why are real instruments more complicated than extremely simplified theoretical models? You need the simplifications to be able to calculate something at ...
user avatar
  • 9,973
8 votes

"Easiest to sound ok" small non-reed woodwinds to learn

Well, "non-reed" eliminates most of the woodwind family, leaving only the flute family. Recorder is pretty easy. There's a reason it's the instrument of choice for elementary school music programs. ...
user avatar
  • 21.2k
8 votes

Woodwind v brass instruments - what is the defining characteristic?

To answer part of your question, concerning why keyed brass instruments don't work out: The "puckered lips" which produce the note in a brass instrument create a sound pressure wave which is very ...
user avatar
8 votes

Music Physics Question - Automatic Trumpet Embouchure Mouthpiece

This has been done, at least as an experiment. There's a paper Artificial buzzing lips and brass instruments: Experimental results (pdf download link) in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of ...
user avatar
  • 14.9k
8 votes

Breath Marks (different symbols)

The comma is plainly called "breath mark" and is the most commonly used version in symphonic and vocal music. The "tick" mark is called luftpause and is of German origin according to Oxford Music ...
user avatar
  • 1,539
8 votes
Accepted

Not-quite-beginner beginner alto sax, how to select an instrument?

I'd like to pick it up again, but I don't have a sax. Any recommendations on what I should look for? Twenty four years ago I emigrated to a country which kinda, sorta, not-really recognized my ...
user avatar
  • 4,874
7 votes

Can you start playing piccolo without playing the flute?

I play both the flute and piccolo, so my answer is completely based off of personal experience. In my opinion, the piccolo and flute are completely different. The only thing that's similar about the ...
user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to play 2 wind instruments well?

Absolutely. JB Arban once said that people have the wrong idea about embouchure - that it's a fixed thing like a statue. He said that embouchure is fluid - you need to do what's right and what sounds ...
user avatar
  • 25.1k
7 votes

Which wind instruments are a problem with braces?

Speaking purely from personal experience, braces are an annoyance but not a problem. I played the clarinet thru 3 years' worth of old-fashioned metal-band&wire braces, with some lip shredding, ...
user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Woodwind v brass instruments - what is the defining characteristic?

You might be interested to read up on the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system for musical instruments. Specifically, under this system, wind instruments are categorized as follows: Edge-...
user avatar
7 votes

Is divisi notation needed for brass or woodwind in an orchestra?

First, be aware that there's often a difference between the conductor's score and the individual parts. To save space and make it easier to navigate, a score often has multiple parts condensed onto ...
user avatar
  • 21.2k
7 votes
Accepted

Is divisi notation needed for brass or woodwind in an orchestra?

The usual situation, if there is more than one part for the same instrument in a piece, is that the instruments do not play the same note. Such parts can be, and usually are, notated on the same ...
user avatar
  • 13.5k
7 votes
Accepted

Circular breathing technique on "mouthpieced" woodwind instruments (clarinet, recorder, saxophone and so on)

Circular breathing imposes a new 'breathing timetable' on your body. You are trading off your natural breathing cadence for the requirements of the music. In the same way that holding your breath for ...
user avatar
  • 2,765
6 votes

More volume from a Bass Clarinet

This isn't really a bass clarinet specific answer, but one that would help you to be heard in ensemble playing, generally. Increasing your absolute volume may not be the only way to be heard clearly ...
user avatar
  • 20.9k
6 votes

More volume from a Bass Clarinet

Perception is key. Start by asking the conductor how he feels the balance is. Given that 90% of bass clarinet parts are supporting lines, rather than leading lines, you don't exactly want to have ...
user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Why do wooden woodwinds sound better than plastic?

The basic answer (which applies to carbon fiber stringed instruments too) is that our current understanding of materials science is insufficient to produce a material which exhibits as "flat", i.e. ...
user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Is there a "preferred" tuning note for woodwinds?

This is from a long time flute player. 40+ years. On a flute the 'open' note is 2nd octave C# which is a horrible note to tune on due to some compromises that were made in the original design of the ...
user avatar
  • 176

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible