The Two Major Types of Wind Instruments

The orchestra encompasses 4 main sections and half of those are winds.

Wind instruments require air to create a vibration, which then sends the sound through the instrument. The two main types of wind instruments encompass a large, significant and colorful part of the orchestra. Learning about these instruments will make listening to music a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience by making it possible to talk specifically about music.

Types of Winds

Woodwind and brass instruments are the two main types of wind instruments in western music. These instruments create their sound by sending vibrations through the instrument propelled by sound. Each group of wind instruments has a different purpose and mechanical function. The method of sound production determines the instrument classification. Both groups of wind instruments use air, but materials create the vibrations specific to each group.


The woodwinds either are made of wood or produce their sound using a wooden reed. The reed vibrates as air passes over and through the instrument. The flute and piccolo are classified as woodwind instruments because they were traditionally made of wood. The saxophone also is a woodwind because of the wooden reed, even though most of the instrument is brass. Other woodwind instruments include oboes, English horn, bassoons, contra-bassoons, clarinets and bass clarinets.


The brass section uses a mouthpiece made out of metal, brass, silver or gold materials to produce sound. The instruments typically employ brass materials with different types of finish to affect the sound. Instruments in the brass family include the trumpet, cornet, trombone, horn, euphonium, baritone and tuba.

Wind Ensemble

The wind ensemble started as a military band, and built up progressively to the modern day wind ensemble used in colleges, universities, and military and professional organizations. Wind ensembles are a collection of brass and woodwind instruments in conjunction with a percussion section, which includes various types of drums. Some wind ensembles also will include cellos, basses and pianos in their orchestrations.


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