History of Woodwinds


The Flute is a Timeless Instrument:

Where it originated A brief history

 

Old Cave Bone Flute

old flutes

History:

The flute is the oldest musical instrument dating back 50,000 years. Recently, archaeologists uncovered a flute from Eastern Europe believed to be between 35,000 and 50,000 years old made of cave bear bone. Other flutes have been found that were made from hollow bird bones. The flute can be played two ways: the side-blown flute like the piccolo and the end-blown flute like the recorder.

 
flute history

How the Flute has Changed:

The flute was introduced to Western Europe by the end of the 2nd century.  Since then, western culture has influenced it’s design.  Flutes have been made from all sorts of materials including wood, silver, and gold, and many of today’s modern flutes are still being made from these semi-precious and precious metals.  In the mid 17th century, Beethoven started adding flute parts to his symphonies.

Flute Specs:

Flutes are in the woodwinds family, even though they don’t have a wooden reed like clarinets and saxophones do.  They are pitched in the key of ‘C’ and play three octaves starting at middle ‘C’ with the exception of the piccolo that is pitched one octave higher.
 

 

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The Classic Clarinet:

Where it originated A brief history

 

Ancient Clarinet

History:

The clarinet was invented in the late 1600’s and credit is given to Johann Christoph Denner of Germany and his son for developing its initial design. During the 1700’s the clarinet underwent some changes as people experimented with different tone holes and made adjustments to the keys in order to alter the pitch. It was during this period they added the register key. By the 1800’s the clarinet adopted the same fingering system as the flute: the Boehm system. This system was based on a mathematical equation that placed the tone holes in a precise location so each note could play in tune.

Description:

Clarinets are in the woodwind family; sound is produced by a wooden reed. They are pitched in the key of Bb and play a variety of musical styles. Originally created to play classical and church music, the clarinet is right at home in concert bands and orchestras. American music in the 20th century changed the course for this highly versatile. With the birth of jazz came new opportunities for this instrument and the clarinet was seen playing in jazz clubs across the nation.

The clarinet is in the woodwind family. Sound is produced when a single a reed, held to the mouthpiece by a ligature, vibrates at different frequencies. The body of the clarinet is usually made from plastic or wood, and the keys are made from nickel or silver. The cylindrical body is what gives the clarinet it its unique reedy sound. Since there are so many different keys on the clarinet, including the register keys, it has the widest range of all the woodwind instruments. The clarinet is a Bb instrument, same as the trumpet and tenor saxophone. The bass clarinet, a cousin to the Bb clarinet, is pitched lower and is commonly found in concert bands and orchestras. Special care should be given to your clarinet in order to keep the corks and pads in good condition. The body of the clarinet should be cleaned after every use with a swab, and the mouthpiece should be cleaned monthly with soapy water and a bristle brush. Because of it’s unique tone, the clarinet can be seen played in a variety of different bands including Dixie land bands, swing bands, and orchestras.

 


 
 

A Modern Day Instrument

Where it originated A Brief History

 

History of the SaxophoneHistory:

The saxophone is a very unique instrument that can play many different styles of music from classical to jazz.  It was invented by Adolphe Sax and introduced to the French military band in 1845.  It is considered to be one of the youngest instruments and was inspired by the flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, and French horn. It was first built in the US in 1885.  Initially, it was developed to have a deep brass sound, but after Adolphe’s patient ran out other people changed it’s tone so it could be heard over the trumpets and trombones.

Description:

The soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, and baritone saxophone are the most common saxophones; however, there are a few bass saxophones and a contra bass saxophones that can be found today.  The soprano sax is pitched one octave higher than the tenor sax, and the alto sax is pitched one octave higher than the bari sax.  Even though the saxophone is made out of brass, it is classified as a woodwind instrument because a single wooden reed is used to produce sound.

The saxophone is still young when compared to other instruments. At less than 200 years old, this horn knows how to show of it’s modern flair. There are many thing musicians can do to change the pitch by bending notes, growling, and using heavy vibrato; many of these sounds can only be done on the sax. The sax is a woodwind instrument with brass qualities. It used a wooden reed which vibrates to produce sound, but it is made of brass. It is loud enough to play in brass bands and not be drowned out buy the trumpets and trombones. There are four main saxophones, the soprano, the alto, the tenor, and the bari, from highest to lowest.

The saxophone has many moving parts and different keys. There is an octave key on the neck of the saxophone, and there are many other keys on the body. The cork on the neck holds the mouthpiece, and the pads on the keys create a seal when you press down on them. You will need a neck strap to hold your heavy saxophone, cork grease to care for your cork, and a swab to clean out the inside after every use. It is important you remove the excess condensation inside your saxophone so you don’t ruin your pads.