Reedcap, free-reed, and idioglottal-reed winds- from L-R:
Pungi, Gaita chanter, Tenor Crumhorn, Melodica,
Contrabass Harmonica, Mijwiz, and Argul

Reedcap instruments are woodwinds in which there is a protective cover, or reedcap, placed between the player's lips and the tone-generating (usually wood/cane) reed. The most common example of a reedcap instrument is a bagpipe practice chanter.

The North Indian "snakecharmer" or Pungi, is a double-clarinet in which the reeds (one for the melody, one for the drone) are placed inside a protective gourd, so the players lips never touches them.
The gaita is a Spanish bagpipe- here is the chanter (melody-pipe) without the bag or drone-pipes.
The curved crumhorn was a reedcap instrument of the Renaissance, usually played in matched sets of several different sizes. It sounds remarkably like a Commodore 64!

Harmonica, accordion, sheng/khaen (Asian mouth-organ), and melodica are all free-reed instruments, in which air is passed over vibrating reeds (usually made of metal) to generate tone, but no lip contact is made with the reeds. A major difference from the reedcap instruments is that the free-reeds usually have a full set of many reeds; a separate one for each note. The melodica (keyboard) pictured at top is directly mouth-blown, and can played with articulation and expression like any wind instrument. The contrabass harmonica has double sets of reeds tuned in octaves- the bottom reeds actually play lower than a bass saxophone!

At far right, the mijwiz and the larger argul are both Egyptian folk double-clarinets with idioglottal reeds. Insted of having a separate bamboo reed attatched to the mouthpiece, the reed is actually a vibrating tongue of cane made from a slit cut into the wall of the instrument itself.


The gaita chanter reed with the reedcap removed.

 


An alto kortholt and a soprano kortholt with the reedcap removed. A kortholt is basically a crumhorn that has been compressed into two parallel bores in a single piece of wood, connected by a U-turn at the bottom of the instrument, much like a bassoon.


mp3 demo snakecharmer 1.1MB

mp3 demo gaita chanter
0.8MB

mp3 demo tenor crumhorn
0.7MB

mp3 demo melodica 2.7MB

mp3 demo contrabass harmonica
0.7MB

mp3 demo argul 0.6MB

BACK

All material Jay Easton 2001-2006 unless otherwise noted