Woodwind instruments use the breath of the player to create sound. Many types of woodwind instruments, such as the clarinet and bassoon, use thin reeds made from cane, which vibrate, letting in small puffs of air into the hollow interior tubing of the instrument, creating a standing wave which travels down the instrument and escapes as sound. Other instruments, such as the flute and recorder, have a small window with a fine edge where the air passes rapidly from one side of the edge to another, creating a sound vibration within the instrument.

The name woodwind can be somewhat misleading, because woodwind instruments can be made of wood, metal, even glass!

Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments is very fortunate to have been bequeathed the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Collection, a fantastic collection of unique and rare woodwind instruments, including over 800 clarinets!

To find out about different types of woodwind instruments, please use navigation on the left.