<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >


In general, the more holes that are closed with a key or covered by a finger, the longer the standing wave inside the instrument, and the lower the pitch.

Valves are more commonly found on brass instruments. Pressing a valve makes the air flow through an extra section of tube, temporarily making the instrument longer in between the mouthpiece and the bell. The slightly longer instrument gets a slightly lower fundamental harmonic , and a lower harmonic series . (A few valves are ascending valves , which cut off a section of tubing and so raise the pitch.) Press the button in this animation to see how the air gets redirected through one type of ( descending ) valve.


The figure and the animation show one type of piston valve. Other styles of valves, including rotary valves as well as other types of piston valves, have different arrangements for the air flow inside the valve, but the purpose is always to redirect the air when the valve is pressed, opening up or cutting off a section of tubing.

Most brass instruments can play an entire chromatic scale with just a few valves. They use small changes in the embouchure to get many different notes from the harmonic series for each valve. But woodwinds have many more keys and fingerings available. Typically a woodwind can play the notes in an entire octave just by changing fingerings. Then a large change in the airstream and embouchure is needed to switch to the next harmonic , so that the next octave can be played. This big change is called overblowing .

Some brass instruments may also have a spit valve , a small hole that is normally closed but that the player can open quickly with a small key. This is not used while playing the instrument. It is used to empty the instrument of what players call "spit". Water vapor from the warm, moist breath of the player condenses in the instrument, especially when it is cold. (And, yes, there's probably a little actual spit in it, too, but not much). This can cause a bubbling sound in the tone. The spit valve is placed at a spot where the water naturally accumulates (due to gravity), giving the player a way to quickly empty the instrument during rests.

Wood and brass: instrument materials

Calling the two main wind sections of the orchestra woodwinds and brass is a bit misleading. The important difference between the two groups is how the sound is first produced, not what the instrument is made of. (In a "brass" instrument, the lips are buzzed against the rim of the mouthpiece. In a "woodwind", the sound begins either with one or two vibrating reeds, or at a sharp edge in the mouthpiece.)

"Brass" instruments are usually made of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. They may be the normal color of brass metal, or they may be tinted to a different metallic color. For example, nickel may be added to the alloy to give the instrument a silver color. Occasionally brass instruments are not made of metal at all; for example, the sousaphone, a tuba used in marching bands, is often made of (lighter-weight) fiberglass.

"Woodwinds" are often made of hardwood, but saxophones are normally made of brass, and most orchestral flutes are made of "nickel-silver" brass. There are also good-quality plastic woodwinds that may be preferable to the wooden versions in some situations - for example, playing in rain, heat, or cold.

Other materials are often needed to make an instrument work well. Felt pads, pieces of cork, metal keys, and various oils help to keep the valve and key action quiet while keeping the instrument from leaking air in the wrong places.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Understanding your french horn. OpenStax CNX. Apr 03, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10219/1.4
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Understanding your french horn' conversation and receive update notifications?