Each instrument belongs to a family. Select the family you wish from the list below to see a description of that family and of the instruments that belong to it.
The Woodwind Family generally consists of 2 flutes, 1 piccolo, 2 oboes, an English horn, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, and a contrabassoon. The flutes lead the woodwind family in high and virtuostic sections. The piccolo is very similar to the flute, but sounds an octave higher and is half the size of the flute. The oboe, bassoon, and the English horn are of the double-reed family. The soprano voice within the double-reed family is carried by the oboe, the alto voice carried by the English horn, and the bass voice is heard through the bassoon. The oboe and the English horn are different from the clarinet, which is a single reed instrument. The inside of the oboe has a conical shape, and a straight tube shape forms the clarinet. Different reeds and internal shape creates a much different sound between the single reed and double reed instruments.
Flute is a woodwind instrument that serves as a soprano voice within the orchestra. A musician holds the flute in a horizontal position and blows across the mouthpiece to produce sound. The concert flute in C is the most popular and has a range of approximately three octaves.
Piccolo is the smallest of the woodwind instruments, and is a member of the flute family. The piccolo resembles a small concert flute but is pitched one octave higher.
Oboe is the smallest and highest pitched woodwind instrument. This double reed instrument has a range of almost three octaves. The oboe is played by blowing gently through the mouthpiece and opening and closing tone holes with the fingers.
English Horn is a member of the woodwind family. The English Horn, a double reed instrument, consists of a wooden tube with a pear-shaped bell at one end and a short metal tube with a double reed at the other end.
Clarinet is a member of the woodwind family. This instrument consists of a tube with a mouthpiece at one end and a bell-shaped opening at the other end. The reed attached to the mouthpiece vibrates producing a full, rich tone.
Bassoon is a member of the woodwind family. The bassoon family is small and very closely related to the oboe family. There are usually two bassoons and occasionally a contrabassoon in a symphony orchestra. The bassoon is a double-reed instrument, but much larger than the oboe, and is the bass instrument of the woodwind section of the orchestra.