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What instruments do you people play

  1. Feb 18, 2005 #1
    I've used the searchy option to check whether these kind of threads already exist or not, and although i have found similar stuff..it is not directly related to what im going to say now.

    Anyway, what instruments do you people play in the physics forums? (that is if they do play instrumnets)

    Im currently playing the flute, tried to play the violin when i was young but i quit because..too hard.
    Pieces im trying to play (and somewhat failing): Chopins nocturne op 9, no 2, and meditation from thais.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2005 #2
    I play guitar, bass and drums, a little bit of violin and enough piano to write songs. My main instrument currently is guitar, although I am probably a better rudimentary drummer (snare drum like you hear in marching bands).
  4. Feb 18, 2005 #3


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    Mostly guitar, but piano too. If anyone wants a copy of "Adam & James - Sexier than Thou", my award winning album, let me know!
  5. Feb 18, 2005 #4
    B flat clarinet. Been playing for some time now (the point where not as good as the professionals but not completely suck at it). I mostly play contemporary band pieces but recently started to dabble in jazz music. One of the coolest jazz clarinet pieces out there is Moonlight Serenade. Technically because I know how to play the clarinet then I should be able to play the saxophone, but I haven't had the time recently to learn a new instrument.

    I eventually want to learn to play another instrument like the oboe, if those things didn't cost an arm and leg. They sound beautiful in the hands of a professional, but for everyone else the oboe just sounds like either a duck or a super-expensive party favor. That is one of the hardest part about learning woodwind instruments, trying to get a good decent tone without sounding like a fuzzy lawnmower.
  6. Feb 18, 2005 #5


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    Piano (not very well) and trumpet (pretty well).
  7. Feb 18, 2005 #6
    I agree with you there about woodwind tones. Knowing from personal experiences with the flute... (clean high and QUIET 2nd octave notes are hard, especially A, B and C)

    By the way, if you do know, do if all woodwind instruments (except flute, from what i know) use reeds?
  8. Feb 18, 2005 #7


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    I played guitar as a kid, not very well. I could play the notes just fine, but I needed the music sheet in front of me at all times and would never have had the talent to perform. Comparatively speaking, I think I had a better talent for playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on my friend's viola.

    Oh, and I play a mean toy xylophone by ear (my nephew got one of those for Christmas...shaped like a dog with a dog bone for a hammer...you know, the kind with 6, brightly-colored bars). Apparently there are plenty of children's songs one can play with only 6 notes. Oh, and he also has a stuffed bear with horns in each of its four feet, so I was learning to play a few 4-note tunes on the stuffed bear too. Then again, I didn't have a very discerning audience. :redface:
  9. Feb 18, 2005 #8
    Whats there to be embarrassed about? :tongue:
    Everyone has different skills and strengths, and you never know, you might be much confident with guitar now if you learned.
  10. Feb 18, 2005 #9
    Many do, the clarinet and saxophone family are single-reed instruments, while others such as the oboe and bassoon are double-reed. For those instruments that do use reeds, reed quality is an important factor in tonal production. Bad reeds will make the instrument (no matter how good) sound absolutely horrible.

    A few woodwind instruments don't use reeds, but they aren't very common in performing bands. The recorder is one of them, but those are mainly used as training instruments for more mainstream woodwind instruments.

    Interestingly enough, the organ can probably classify as a woodwind instrument because sound is generated by reeds...
  11. Feb 18, 2005 #10
    hehe :rofl:
    Actually, i remember a big argument some time ago on another website on whether piano is a string instrument, or just a type of its own. Eventually, people agreed it is a string instrument.

    Organs are quite related to pianos, and woodwind. So in a most absurd way, we can say the organ is string AND woodwind :rofl:
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2005
  12. Feb 18, 2005 #11
    This is funny, but so true. :smile:
  13. Feb 18, 2005 #12

    Piano is in fact a percussion instrument :wink:

    I play baritone sax in the uni wind orchestra here.
  14. Feb 18, 2005 #13
    HaHaHaHa..(when hearing what franznietzsche says) ...oh.. :bugeye:
    Well..i guess.. ill be quiet then.


    Seriously, i think that would be the proper 'catagory' for the piano..but then, how come its not in the usual orchestra 'structure'? :confused:
  15. Feb 18, 2005 #14


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    franz is right that piano is considered a percussion instrument, because it uses hammers to strike the strings. An organ only bears similarity in having a keyboard. The internal workings are entirely different, so it is probably best described as a wind instrument. A harpsichord, on the other hand, because it plucks the strings rather than strikes them with a hammer, would be considered a string instrument, bearing great similarity to a harp.

    I thought the saxophone fell into the category of brass instruments, not woodwinds.

    Though, another woodwind left out that does not include a reed is the piccolo, which resembles a smaller version of the flute.

    Bladibla...my little embarrassed face was not over my guitar playing, but over my stuffed bear and toy xylophone playing with only a toddler as my audience to critique my talent, or lack thereof. :tongue2:
  16. Feb 18, 2005 #15
    :uhh: Oh. well, anyhow, I think skills in different things change over the years.
  17. Feb 18, 2005 #16


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    No, they're definitely wind.

    Some systems have a separate "keyboard" classificiation for the piano, harpsicord and organ, the piano and harpsicord really ought to belong in the same category, and the classification for 'organ' is vague because of the different types (not all blow air through a pipe).
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2005
  18. Feb 18, 2005 #17
    Even though saxophones may be made using the same materials, their operation is entirely different. Instead of using valve/slide action to direct the air, saxophones are very much like the other instruments in the woodwind family in that they use pads and holes to differentiate notes such as in instruments like the clarinet and flute. Adding to that, saxophones are single-reed instruments, which make them woodwinds instead of brass.

    There are no brass instruments that I know of that use reeds (and no, putting a saxophone mouthpiece on a trumpet does not classify it as a reed instrument :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:).

    Yah, but the piccolo looks so much like the flute that it might as well be one :tongue2:.... though it is much more difficult to play and is always out of tune.

    At least one good thing about reed instruments is that you could have a fairly crappy instrument yet still be able to get a good tone given the right reed. I guess the same could hold true for brass, Louie Armstrong's trumpet was duct-taped together :bugeye:.
  19. Feb 18, 2005 #18
    I wouldn't say the piccolo is harder: the keys are just the same as a flute. Its just you have to make your mouth VERY small to get the proper tones. (even smaller than 3rd octave flute notes)

    And thats a pretty good thing about other reed-using woodwing instruments. Flutes, on the other hand, really has its sound dependant on the metal it is made of. (i.e. silver, gold, platinum). Im not saying a silver one (which i have) sounds bad, but the most expensive (i.e. gold) sounds much more smooth.
  20. Feb 18, 2005 #19
    I wish I could say that the higher tones for the clarinet altissimo registers are easy... it just loses all continuity in the fingerings and makes it hard to play. It can get very messy :yuck:. It is one of the reasons that jazz clarinet music is so extraordinarily difficult.

    Interesting, a platinum flute (how expensive :surprised). Supposedly the same should be true for other woodwind instruments like the clarinet. The best and priciest clarinets are made out of Grenadilla wood, but my old resonite clarinet can get just as good of a tone if I have the right reed. Embouchure helps a great deal in improving tonal quality, and that may take years to accomplish.
  21. Feb 18, 2005 #20
    Yeah, it applies to wood clarinets as well. I mean, wood clarinets have a much cleaer tone than plastic ones...

    Embuouchure..yeah its pretty damn important, as well as vibrato on the flute. Both are like maths: you have to constantly practise it. There is no best or worst vibrato or tone: you just have to try your best to get the tone which you like (which other people normally like too)

    about the higher tones: its still ok, as clarinets arn't designed to play high notes continuously. Flute on the other hand, cant play low notes below a B (and thats with a extenstion. Without one, you can only play a low C)
  22. Feb 18, 2005 #21
    In general mostly. A skilled player can create a professional tone using a plastic clarinet, but that takes years of practice to get right. When I do play the occasional wood clarinet, I don't need to adjust my embouchure or modify my playing in any way because my main instrument is a plastic one. As a generalization, anyone who can play a plastic clarinet and make it sound like a wooden clarinet will have no problems getting a good tone on any instrument.

    Experience and practice are what make the learning curve on the woodwind instruments rather high. Sure one can play the instrument, but does it sound good. That is the kicker. Unlike the piano, which requires lots of technical skill in rhythms and coordination, it is a completely different subset of difficulty (so as not to say that woodwinds are more difficult to play than pianos, woodwinds are difficult in a different way).

    Well, the flute has a good cutoff point, a nice C. The clarinet ends on a low E, so I can't always take things down an octave without screwing it up and trying to shoot for a note that doesn't exist :frown:. As for the high notes continuously... I still haven't found an upper limit for the clarinet. Perhaps it is just due to my inexperience, but the highest note I have ever played (and it sounded atrociously horrible) was 4th octave C, and even then I adjusted my embouchure to shift it to (I think) 5th octave C.

    All those notes up there btw sound like crap even to the experienced musician. One has to really be a master of the instrument to get those notes to sound halfway reasonable.
  23. Feb 18, 2005 #22
    Adding to my last comment, the learning curve is fairly steep for the clarinet and oboe in particular. The saxophone doesn't nearly have as much tonal flexibility as those instruments and is fairly fixed and easy to learn to the beginner. Either you sound good or you sound like a lawnmower. Same thing applies to the oboe (except the lawnmower, to which one would just replace with a duck)... there is no middle ground.

    From experience, novice clarinet players tend to have an airy or reedy tone that lacks a mellow melancholy structure. They also have the nasty tendency to kink up the airflow and cause all sorts of nasty squeaks :eek:.

    I do have some advice for any aspiring clarinet players out there, listen to professional clarinet players and try to emulate their tone by adjusting embouchure and the like.. there is no 'right' way of getting a good tone, just practice and trial-and-error.
  24. Feb 18, 2005 #23
    agreed. I think even with 'crap' instruments of flute and clarinet, it is good practise. It is like a marathon runner training with boots on, and when it comes to the actual match, they run effortlessly on trainers, because the boots were that much heavier.


    Consider that note on the flute.

    I cant even make the sound come out, and i think only very high quality flutes will make that sound come out good. Thank goodness that i dont play pieces with 4th octave f# :bugeye:

    about the woodwind: yep, agreed again. Although, some dynamics you just can't do on woodwind instruments, such as accords (or chords).


    Although, that link is suspicious...
  25. Feb 18, 2005 #24
    guitar, bass guitar, and two weeks worth of saxophone.

    i played piano a lot when i was four, but completely forgot after about two years. i had a crazy russian man teach me, too!
  26. Feb 18, 2005 #25


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    I'm perfecting 'Comptine d'Un Autre Éte' from the movie Amélie on the piano.. wonderful simple and melodious piece :biggrin: I'm really bad at it, at the moment.. so there is still some practicing to do :tongue: next project will be Bach's 2-part invention no. 13 :smile:
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