Chapter 11. Blow, winds

This chapter will look in detail at the diverse family of wind instruments, building on earlier material about acoustic resonators and and self-excited oscillation of a simple clarinet model. The first section reviews the different nonlinear excitation mechanisms that distinguish the major families of wind instruments: reed woodwind, brass, free reed and flute-like instruments relying on the interaction of an air-jet with a sharp edge.

The second section steps back a little, to give a simple overview of some key phenomena involving fluid flow. These play a role in the later detailed discussions of families of instruments. The list includes turbulence, Bernoulli’s law, vortex shedding, and the mechanisms by which sound can be generated by fluid flow.

After that, separate sections dig into the behaviour of the major families of instruments: reed woodwind instruments, “brass” instruments (not all of which are in fact made of brass), free-reed instruments like the accordion and the harmonica, and finally air-jet instruments like the flute or flue organ pipes.

I must emphasise that this subject is not my own speciality, and many friends and colleagues have helped me get to grips with the material of this chapter. I particularly thank Joe Wolfe, André Almeida, Henri Boutin, Augustin Ernoult, Jean Kergomard, Jean-Pierre Dalmont, Mico Hirschberg, Murray Campbell, David Sharp, Anurag Agarwal, Max Nussbaumer, and Jeremy Barlow.