The Open Octave Project: Woodwinds

The woodwind section is made up of a wide variety of instruments, that can, in a general sense, comprise 4 groups, being the flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons.

Within each group, there are variations, which may be larger or smaller instrument versions, and these variations are particularly useful for the composer when writing. Our descriptions are based on a general orchestral setup, but visitors, and those who have an interest in the makeup of orchestras and the potential within, are encouraged to explore further with external resources for more detailed descriptions of the instruments described here.


In a traditional sense, Woodwinds, particularly Flutes and Oboes, are written melodically, or provide counter-melodic phrases.

This is not quite so clear cut in modern writing as it was in earlier forms of orchestral music, and these instruments also double as instruments capable of bolstering string sections, adding not only more strength, but additional sound colouring too.


The same is true for Clarinets and Bassoons, where in earlier classical music Clarinets tended to be part of group harmonic sustains, or steady rhythmic passages, with the bassoons often doubling cellos and basses, more often than not, in more modern forms of music both instruments have a much expanded role as melodic and unique members of the orchestra.