Woodwind Musical Instruments

Every musical instrument in a symphonic orchestra will emit a distinct tone that will contribute to the sound of music that will be heard by an audience during a concert performance. The woodwind section of the symphonic orchestra is comprised of musical instruments such as the flute, oboe, the clarinet, and the bassoon. A symphonic orchestra is comprised of brass instruments, stringed instruments, percussion instruments, and woodwind instruments.

The musical instruments that are considered woodwind instruments will be equipped with one or two reeds. The shaping of woodwind musical instruments is tubular, and certain woodwinds will have several curves in the tube, which will allow different sounds to be made simply by the shape of the instrument. The musician will place a reed in the mouthpiece to create sound and the amount of air in the tubing will determine what type of sound will be emitted.

A symphonic orchestra will have a unique seating arrangement that accounts for the magnificent blend of music that audiences hear each night. The seating chart is arranged in sections, by musical instrument class rather than by the tenure of the musician who is playing the instrument. The number of seats allowed per instrument is generally five, sometimes more depending on the size of the orchestra.

Musicians covet the first chair of any musical instrument section because it is a position of honor in a symphonic orchestra. The conductor will reserve each seat in a musical section to a specific musician, and will give the honor of the first chair to the musician that has proven through testing and experience that they are the best. The first chair musician in a symphonic orchestra is normally given the honor of serving as a soloist during a concert performance.

The sections for woodwind musical instruments will cascade from five parent instruments. The section of flutes will be comprised of piccolos and flutes. These woodwind instruments do not use any reeds to produce music but rely on holes in the instrument to introduce air into a tubular form. Some classical music selections will require more flutes than piccolos to be used and any musical instruments that are not needed will remain silent during that portion of the musical performance.

Other sections of the seating chart for a symphonic orchestra will be comprised of instruments like the clarinet. The three styles of clarinet used in a symphonic orchestra are the clarinet, the bass or contra bass clarinet, and the E-flat clarinet. Some of these woodwind instruments are held in the hand, and woodwinds like the contra base are very large and are equipped with built-in stands that can be extended to form a peg to allow the musician to slant the woodwind instrument while playing the instrument in a seated position.

The remaining sections of the woodwind section will be comprised of musical instruments such as the oboe. This grouping will include the English horn based on the shaping of the tube, and this woodwind styled instrument does not use a reed to promote the sound. The saxophone is ranked in the woodwind instrument group although it is a metal instrument. The bassoon and contra bassoon will fill the remaining seats for woodwind musical instruments in a symphony orchestra.

By: Jim Brown

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