Songwriting: Wind instruments

As a songwriter, but also as a producer, it can be useful to be able to play an instrument. This gives you extra freedom within the creative process that is songwriting and music production. At the Wisseloord Academy we look at many different instruments and what we can do with them. What types and variations are there? And how can we combine and use them? For now, let’s look at wind instruments!

Two categories

Wind instruments can be divided into two categories. Namely the woodwinds and the brass. However, categorizing them is not about the material the instrument is made of. It’s all about the way you play.

The wind instruments in which the tone is produced by the vibration of a reed are counted as woodwinds. If the tone is produced by the vibration of the player’s lips, the instrument is classified as a brass instrument.


There are several wind instruments that fall under the woodwind category. Think for example of the recorder, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone. A standard instrumentation of woodwinds within a symphony orchestra consists of two flutes, two clarinets, two bassoons and two oboes.

Brass instruments

Instruments such as the trumpet, trombone, tuba, and horn are counted among the brass instruments. Within a symphony orchestra you see the most common horns, trumpets, tubas, and trombones.

Arranging wind instruments

A wind section consists of a group of musicians playing different wind instruments. This gives you a lot of choice and possibility for variation in arranging the horn section. It is obvious to play a lot of polyphony. However, be careful with this. If everything is played in multiple moods, this can get boring. Therefore, look for a combination between polyphonic and monophonic playing to keep it interesting. In the part of the arrangement where you want the horns to come forward more or give more impact, you can choose to apply polyphony.


Playing a wind instrument is more difficult than people think in advance. Firstly, it is music theory that you must master to function well as a wind player in a section, orchestra or as a session musician. But the technique of getting a stable and pure tone from a wind instrument at all is an achievement. These musicians spend a lot of time getting and keeping their blowing technique up to standard. Make no mistake about this if you are a beginner blower.

Now that you have the basic knowledge about wind instruments, you can start using them in your arrangement or even practice as a wind player yourself!