How the Various Pitches are Produced
With a pipe of fixed length, for example, the clarinet, different pitches are obtained by pressing keys which open holes in the tube and thus shorten or lengthen the vibrating air column and produce a rise or fall in pitch. Changes in pitch are also produced by variation in the player's breathing. By blowing hard or gently, the number of vibrations of the reed is increased or decreased and hence the pitch is altered.
In the oboe the vibrating air column is set into motion by means of two thin pieces of wood or metal placed in the mouthpiece of the tube. Variations in pitch are produced as in the clarinet by means of stops and varied breathing. In the flute, the air is set into motion by direct blowing from the mouth, as is done, for instance, when we blow into a bottle or key.
The sound given out by organ pipes is due to air blown across a sharp edge at the opening of a narrow tube. The air forced across the sharp edge is thrown into vibration and communicates its vibration to the air within the organ pipe. For different pitches, pipes of different lengths are used: for very low pitches long, closed pipes are used; for very high pitches short, open pipes are used. The mechanism of the organ is such that pressing a key allows the air to rush into the communicating pipe and a sound is produced characteristic of the length of the pipe.
In the brass wind instruments such as horn, trombone, and trumpet, the lips of the player vibrate and excite the air within. Varying pitches are obtained partly by the varying wind pressure of the musician; if he breathes fast, the pitch rises; if he breathes slowly, the pitch falls. All of these instruments, however, except the trombone possess some valves which, on being pressed, vary the length of the tube and alter the pitch accordingly. In the trombone, valves are replaced by a section which slides in and out and shortens or lengthens the tube.
FIG. - 1, clarinet; 2, oboe; 3, flute.
FIG. - 1, horn; 2, trumpet; 3, trombone.
FIG. - 1, kettledrum; 2, bass drum; 3, cymbals.