11 Types of Modern and Traditional Wind Instruments and Their Explanations!

Wind Instruments – Music is always fun to discover. Not only in terms of today’s popular songs, musical instruments also have various kinds and types that won’t make us bored if we know one by one. For example, apart from string and percussion instruments, there are also wind instruments.

This wind instrument is one of the most common musical instruments (or even the main star) in the world of jazz.

This musical instrument produces sound by air vibrations, either coming from the reeds or the musician’s own lips. There are two main groups of wind instrument families, namely woodwind instruments and brasswinds ( woodwinds and brasswinds ).

In the days of ancient civilizations, this type of musical instrument was made from animal horns to be used as a warning signal. However, now there are hundreds of different kinds of wind instruments. In this article, we will dive deeper into this musical instrument!

Introduction to Musical Instruments

Wind instruments are instruments containing some type of resonator, usually a tube, in which vibrations are set from the air column by the player blowing into the mouthpiece at or near the end of the resonator. Meanwhile, the vibration height is determined by the length of the tube which is modified manually from the effective length of the air column vibrating.

In some cases of wind instruments, the blown reed produces sound. While others, it takes a hum into the metal funnel. There are also those that require the player to blow into the hole on the edge of his musical instrument, producing a split in the air column and creating sound.

Basically, a wind instrument is a musical instrument whose origin is the sound of air vibrations. Aerophone is the scientific term for this tool. Air vibrations are created in two ways:

  1. Air vibrations contained within the instrument itself (in clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, etc.)
  2. Air vibrations do not originate from the instrument (in harmonica, accordion)

Origin and History

Quoting Coils , experts estimate the discovery of wind instruments or musical instruments sounded by the wind, occurred since prehistoric times.

The reason is, they found many examples of musical instruments shaped like a flute, made of animal bones with several holes in the main body. In fact, the size of the object which is believed to be a musical instrument was not too big, almost similar to today’s flute, Sinaumed’s.

As early as 3000 BC, the flute appears to have been in use by the Egyptians and Sumerians. Although there are not many historical records regarding the use of other civilizations, historians believe that each culture has its own traditions with its own wind instruments so that they can continue to be developed to the present day.

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), a French composer, was the first to create a flute musical instrument. Some of the music that refers to flute notes was created in 1681.

Then, Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) perfected the arrangement of holes and notes on the flute in the 19th century so that it could become similar to what we know today.

Another musical instrument that is also thought to have been used by humans since prehistoric times, is the trumpet. Sinaumed’s must have been surprised to read it. This instrument was originally made of ivory and shells. In 2000 BC, bronze horns are believed to have begun to appear and were first discovered in Egypt.

The ancient Scandinavians and the Romans are believed to have been well acquainted with the trumpet instrument. In fact, they were able to make circular trumpets similar to modern trumpets. The Romans seem to have succeeded in developing the trumpet by adding ornaments to make the sound that comes out better.

In the 17th to 19th centuries, several modern wind instruments were invented. For example, the clarinet was invented in Nuremberg, Germany, around 1670 by Johann Christoph Denner. Although, originally the shape of the clarinet came from the culture of Egypt and Ancient Greece.

Furthermore, there is the saxophone invented by Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax (1814-1894) in Belgium. He discovered this modern musical instrument when he was developing a bass clarinet. In 1846, the saxophone was patented and became an instrument for the development of jazz music in the 1920s.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, orchestras actually began to appear. Since then, it was decided that wind instruments fall into a certain category according to the material they are made of. This is where woodwind instruments, of course made of wood, and brass wind instruments made of brass emerge.

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Starting from the 19th century, things got complicated due to various technological developments and the invention of new instruments, such as the saxophone. The metal instruments were eventually included in woodwinds or woodwinds .

The classification system became more stable in the 20th century and subgroups of instruments were determined from the sound-producing system.

Although scientifically implausible, the terms “woodwind instrument” and “brass” to categorize wind instruments are still the most common. So, have you ever played a wind instrument?

Most Popular Types of Musical Instruments

Before going into the types of popular musical instruments one by one, let’s dissect the “big family” first.

As previously discussed, wind instruments are grouped into two main parts:

  • Woodwind instruments (such as flutes, recorders, oboe, clarinets, and saxophones), as well
  • Brass instruments (such as trombone, trumpet, and tuba)

At first, woodwind instruments were only made of wood, just as brass instruments were made of brass. However, categorization based on the origin of the sound also emerged, not only based on the means of manufacture.

For example, the saxophone is generally made of brass, but it is a woodwind instrument because the sound comes from vibrating reeds. There are also wooden cornetts (not cornets) which are made of wood or sometimes plastic, but fall into the category of brass instruments because their vibrations are initiated by the lips of the player.

  • With a woodwind instrument, players can:
    • Causes the reed to vibrate, which mixes in the air column (as in the saxophone, clarinet, or oboe)
    • Blow over the fipple, open hole against the edge (as in a recorder or ocarina), or
    • Blowing on the open edge of the hole (as on a flute).
  • In brass wind instruments, sound is produced by the vibration of the player’s lips against the mouthpiece. This technique is quite distinctive and unique from wind instruments as a whole. (brass wind instruments, for example trumpet, tuba, trombone). The sound of the instrument changes depending on the contraction of the player’s lip muscles and the style of the mouthpiece.

There are also brass instruments made of ivory (cornett, olifant), plastic (trumpet), and wood (didgeridoo, alphorn).

Commonly Used Wind Instruments

Now that we understand the families of wind instruments, let’s discuss some of the popular ones one by one:

1. Recorder

The recorder is a woodwind instrument originating from Europe. Seemingly simple, this instrument became famous in early classical music, especially during the Baroque art period. First appearing in the 14th century, recorders began to disappear in the mid-18th century.

The instrument has recently become associated with early childhood education, so many children use plastic versions of the instrument for their music classes in elementary school. Of course, we’ve done this before, haven’t we?

The recorder is one of the most widely used types of wind instruments because of its contribution to music education. Unfortunately, few musicians end up using the instrument much longer than they have since elementary school.

2. Clarinet

Created in the 1700s, this German instrument remains one of the most popular types of wind instruments. The mouthpiece has a single reed and cylindrical tube shape similar to that of the oboe, but this one is easier to play and makes it a great choice for beginners.

The clarinet has gone through many changes from its inception in the 1700’s to the 1800’s. Fortunately, the structure has been relatively consistent since then. Besides having a variety of standard B-flat instruments, clarinet also has other versions such as the E-flat which is almost half the scale of a regular clarinet, and the bass clarinet.

This instrument is often played in concert bands and orchestras, even jazz ensembles.

3. Saxophone

The saxophone was invented and developed in Belgium in the 1840s by instrument maker Adolphe Sax, and the instrument has a much shorter history than most other instruments.

Although the body of saxophones is usually metal, they are technically classed as a woodwind instrument because of the reeds used in the mouthpiece and family association with instruments such as the clarinet.

The saxophone has a single reed mouthpiece and about 22 knobs (depending on the model) that can be opened and closed to change pitch.

It is a popular instrument with beginners because of its versatility and intermediate level can be achieved relatively quickly compared to other options.

4. Flute

The flute was one of the first instruments to be made from various materials over the centuries. The instrument has a long history of being constructed of wood and bone, but modern flutes are made of silver and other metals.

Most flutes are side-blown (hence the official description as a ‘transverse flute’), although some lesser-known variations of the instrument are instead blown, giving an appearance similar to that of a recorder or tin whistle.

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Unlike some earlier instruments, the flute has no reeds and relies on the movement of air across the orifices to produce sound. An orchestra may have up to fifteen flutes, depending on the arrangement. This instrument also appears in many of the more modern styles of jazz.

5. Trumpets

The trumpet is perhaps the most popular wind instrument with many aspiring musicians playing it. Like the saxophone, this instrument is very versatile. Her lively and brilliant voice can be heard across a variety of genres, from classical to pop or jazz.

Unlike the saxophone, this instrument is very old with a primitive version of the trumpet which is thought to have been used as a signaling device in ancient cultures.

Meanwhile, the trumpet was an important part of the classical orchestra despite new life in the 20th century as a popular jazz instrument played by the likes of Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong.

6. Tubes

The tuba is the biggest instrument of the brass family: you could say it’s the “grandfather” of the family. As such, it is also the lowest brass instrument in terms of pitch. The tuba is mostly heard in orchestras and brass bands, but because of its bass register, it is sometimes used in jazz as a substitute for the double bass.

New Orleans style brass bands often use a tuba or sousaphone (a type of tube shaped to surround the player) for the bassline because of their powerful sound and portability.

7. Trombone

A descendant of the trumpet, the trombone has the same horn and flared bells, but features slides instead of valves to change the pitch. The name “trombone” actually comes from the Italian word meaning “big trumpet”. The history of the trombone can also be traced back to Europe when it was originally called a ‘sackbut’ .

This instrument gives the instrument a fun, playful sound suitable for jazz, but is also a powerful and important part of classical orchestras and brass bands.

The music is composed in bass clef for wind groups, orchestras, and big bands, while the brass band trombonist needs to read the music in treble clef.

8. Harmonica

The harmonica is one of the easiest types of musical instruments to choose and play. Often used in blues and folk music, the harmonica is a simple wind instrument often used to accompany singing.

Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Sonny Boy Williamson are just a few of the big names who have mastered the instrument.

The harmonica itself contains reeds that produce different notes depending on their length. These instruments are lightweight and usually inexpensive, but if Sinaumed’s has the skills, holding out to play them is more than just a hobby.

Wind Instruments from Indonesia

Even though there are actually many types, here are some examples of wind instruments from Indonesia:

1. Saluang

The saluang musical instrument is a traditional Minangkabau instrument, West Sumatra. Made of thin bamboo or gutters, the Minangkabau people believe that the best material for making saluang comes from gutters that are washed away in the river.

In addition to the saluang, the Minangkabau also have several other traditional wind instruments such as rice stem bellows, sarunai, rabab, aguang, tanduak fertilizer, gandang, and so on.

2. Bamboo Flute

Who has never heard of this term? Bamboo flute comes from the land of Sunda, West Java. Of course, this flute is made of bamboo with its slender features, about 15-30 cm long, and about 3-4 cm in diameter.

It is the air that is blown through the hole in the flute that produces the sound on the instrument. After flowing, the air will hit the walls of the flute and the vibrations will become a resonator and produce a soft and beautiful tone.

3. Banjar funnel

The banjar trumpet musical instrument is a traditional musical instrument from the Banjar tribe in South Kalimantan. Usually played during Bakuntau art performances or silat martial arts, this musical instrument is about 15 cm long and with typical Banjar carvings.

The end is shaped like a bell, where the sound comes out. There are also double reeds made of dried coconut leaves and a hole in the middle.

Sinaumed’s, those are the various types and explanations regarding wind instruments that are important for us to know. Of course, it’s fun, isn’t it, to be able to learn new things related to musical instruments that are very close to our daily lives?

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