Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instruments. There are two main types of woodwind instruments: flutes and reed instruments (otherwise called reed pipes). What differentiates these instruments from other wind instruments is the way in which they produce their sound.

Flutes produce sound by directing a focused stream of air across the edge of a hole in a cylindrical tube.[2] The flute family can be divided into two sub-families: open flutes, and closed flutes.[3]

To produce a sound with open flutes, the player is required to blow a stream of air across a sharp edge that then splits the airstream . This split airstream then acts upon the air column contained within the flutes hollow causing it to vibrate and produce sound. Examples of open flutes are the transverse flute, panpipes andocarinas.[4] Ancient flutes of this variety were often made from tubular sections of plants such as grasses, reeds, and hollowed-out tree branches. Later, flutes were made of metals such as tin, copper, or bronze. Modern concert flutes are usually made of high-grade metal alloys, usually containing nickel, silver, copper, or gold.[5]

To produce a sound with a closed flute, the player is required to blow air into a duct. This duct acts as a channel bringing the air to a sharp edge. As with the open flutes, the air is then split; this causes the column of air within the closed flute to vibrate and produce sound. Examples of this type of flute include the recorder (instrument), and organ pipes.[6]

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