A woodwind instrument is a musical instrument which produces sound when the player blows air against a sharp edge or through a reed, causing the air within its resonator (usually a column of air) to vibrate. Most of these instruments are made of wood but can be made of other materials, such as metals or plastics.

Notes can be changed in two ways:

  • Changing the length of the vibrating air column by changing the effective length of the tube through opening or closing holes in the side of the tube. This can be done by covering the holes with fingers or pressing a key which then closes the hole. This method is used in nearly all woodwind instruments.
  • Making the column of air vibrate at different harmonics without changing the length of the column of air (see harmonic series).

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