Wind Instruments: List of Indian and Western Wind Instruments

Boy playing a wind instrument (trumpet)

What are the wind instruments?

Wind instruments constitute the ones that are played using blowing wind near the mouthpiece of the instrument. Sound is produced because of the vibration of winds directly or indirectly near the resonator. These wind instruments have various pitches that depend upon various manual settings as well as the size and length of the instrument. While some of these instruments require blowing the mouthpiece the others require the buzzing through the mouthpiece.

Western Wind Instruments
Western Wind Instruments

Jump to Section:

  1. Types of Wind Instruments
  2. What are Indian Wind Instruments?
  3. What are Western Wind Instruments?
  4. Summary

Types of Wind Instruments

The winds instruments can be divided into two main types. Brass Instruments like the horns, trumpets, tubas, euphoniums. Although made of brass, the method used to play them is also being referred to for these instruments. The second type includes the woodwind instruments are generally made of wood, from traditional times. These instruments include flutes, saxophones, clarinets, and recorders.

What are Indian Wind Instruments?

Indian musical instruments have mostly been designed to reflect the rich culture and heritage of India. We can just listen to the most melodious music and instruments in our country from time immemorial. The same goes for the wind instruments which enhance the beauty and soul in a musical ensemble.  Some of them also have mythological anecdotes attached to them like that of the Flute which is considered to be the musical instrument of Lord Krishna.

The history of the wind instruments in India came from the bamboo shoots, horns and hollow tubes which were played as musical instruments. Animal bones were also used several times for playing it using air.

List of Indian Wind Instruments

Bansuri

Bansuri is considered to be one of the oldest and most popular wind instruments in India. This is comprised of bamboo and six and seven holes on it to produce melodious and sweet sounds. Also, an ancient instrument, this instrument found its depiction in the Buddhist texts as well back in 100AD. This instrument is often connected with Lord Krishna. This is considered to be a kind of flute. Mainly a north Indian instrument that was used in light and classical music. It gives a melodious tone to accompany the singer. 

Flute or Bansuri
Flute or Bansuri

Shehnai

Shehnai is one of the Indian wind instruments which are considered to be auspicious for various occasions. It is made of wood with two reeds and a metal bell on one side. This instrument is played widely in marriages, religious occurrences, and also during processions. This was one of the nine traditional “naubat” which was played in the royal courts of Kings. Shehnai instrument is widely used for concerts as well.

This instrument is narrower upwards and broader in the down portion. Shehnai has approximately six to nine holes for the wind to come out from this beautiful instrument. This instrument is believed to have originated from pungi that was the musical instrument for snake charming all over India.

Shehnai - Indian Wind Instrument
Shehnai – Indian Wind Instrument

Pepa

Pepa is the one reed instrument of Assam and is generally used during the Bihu celebration. This instrument is like the hornpipe and was traditionally used by the Deori priests in Assam. This instrument is similar to the Shofar used by the Jewish people.

Although this was previously used to praise and ode the Tian god of Chinese mythology. But later it got adopted for the festivals like Bihu. Since this is made from the horn of buffalo its uses are getting limited with passing time.

Pepa - Assamese Wind Instrument
Pepa – Assamese Wind Instrument

Harmonium

Harmonium is unique amongst many other musical instruments. It constitutes free reeds and the air flows through a thin metal frame. This is one of the pump organs and was from Denmark. It was formed for the first time in the 1780s. Unlike melodeons of the West, this is much smaller and carried anywhere easily. This is a greatly used wind instrument that is frequently used for classical as well as light music in India.

Harmonium - Indian musical instrument
Harmonium – Indian wind musical instrument

What are the Western Wind Music Instruments?

Western wind instruments are widespread all across the world. They are used in rock music, pop music, and jazz music, and every form of contemporary music. The wind instruments which are played and had their origin all over the world outside India are known as Western Wind Instruments.

Saxophones

This instrument falls under the category of woodwind musical instruments. This instrument is made up of brass. This is a single-reed musical instrument and is quite popular all over the world. These were used in solo music, concerts, and so on. In modern days this is also used along with the contemporary music of jazz, bands, rock music, and so on.

Saxophone - Western wind instrument
Saxophone – Western wind instrument

Clarinets

Clarinets are woodwind instruments that consist of a single reed. It is a tube-like long instrument, cylindrical. This instrument was discovered in Germany by Johann Christoph Denner. Clarinet instrument has a wider pitch range in comparison to other woodwind instruments. This instrument constitutes hard rubber, metal, resin, ivory, and plastic. Buffet Clarinets mainly formed a part of Classical music concerts as well as a part of various concerts and orchestras. But traditionally it was played with jazz and was first played so in New Orleans.

Clarinet - Western wind instrument
Clarinet – Western wind instrument

Bagpipes

Bagpipes are instruments that contain one or two reeds. The instrument also consists of a bag that is made up of animal leather. While the pipe on the upper portion gets flowed through the mouth the bag inflates and then along with that the player plays the reeds on the other pipe that remains on the lower portion of the instrument. The instrument dates back to 100BCE.

Cornet or the Trumpet

Cornet and/or Trumper are similar wind instruments and consist of music played in B flat note. The basic difference between these two instruments is that trumpets are used in jazz while the cornet is played in brass bands. The trumpet has a cylindrical bore with a high pitch. The cornet consists of a conical bore.

Boy playing a wind instrument (trumpet)
Boy playing a wind instrument (trumpet)

Summary

These wind instruments whether from India or abroad have given music a real melody and made it more vibrant. We can admittedly say that these instruments are extremely important in any concerts and performances to make music more ornamental.

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