The Woodwind Family

The woodwind family has a greater variety of color than both the string and brass family. Each woodwind has a different timbre that makes it distinctive to the ear, although the instruments still work well as a homogenous group.

With the introduction of the woodwinds, transposition becomes a significant focus. The Bb Clarinet sounds a major second lower than the printed pitch while the Eb Alto Saxophone sounds a major sixth lower.

All woodwinds are quite agile and are able to play glissandi, scalar runs, and trills with great ease.

Both Brasswinds and Woodwinds employ articulation for clarity of attack. In the absence of a slur, players will articulate each note with a "T", "D", or "K", which can vary in strength. For rapid articulations, some instruments employ multiple tonguinging (T-K-T-K), sometimes called "fanfare tonguing"

As with strings, the lower register is typically darker, while the upper register is brighter. This difference can be significantly pronounced with some players. When writing for multiple woodwinds, consideration to timbre and register can help or hinder an orchestration. For example, while the flute is loudest at its highest register and softest at its lowest, the exact opposite is true of the oboe.

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