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Thread: Rate Insruments difficulty, by aspect of playing

  1. #1
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    Default Rate Insruments difficulty, by aspect of playing

    I'm getting tired of my recorder clogging after 5 minutes. I'm looking for another wind instrument that may suit me better. Are recorders the only winds that clog so g*d d*mn easily?

    Please Rate instruments according the the following aspects: (1-10, 1 being easy, 10 being hardest)

    Breath Support:
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Flute
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Recorder
    Trumpet
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba
    Other instruments...

    Breath Control:
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Flute
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Recorder
    Trumpet
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba
    Other instruments...

    Intonation:
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Flute
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Recorder
    Trumpet
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba
    Other instruments...

    Fingering:
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Flute
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Recorder
    Trumpet
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba
    Other instruments...

    Natural Resistance to making any sound at all... (i.e. clogging, embouchure technique etc...)
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Flute
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Recorder
    Trumpet
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba
    Other instruments...


    Other aspects... (add your own if you think fit...)

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Seems like you ought to be able to keep the spit out of a traverse flute. Other than that, I have no guesses.
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    Junior Member Classical Saxophonist's Avatar
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    Recorder is by far the easiest to get a good tone on. No matter who plays it or how they play it, the tone produced will be the same. Like a piano or guitar. Embouchure means nothing on recorder.

    As far as difficulty for the others, French horn, bassoon, and oboe are the most difficult. I would say the others are comparable in difficulty.
    Last edited by Classical Saxophonist; Mar-31-2014 at 04:53.

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    All instruments are equally difficult to play in some way or other. Some people find one harder than another but this doesn't apply to everyone. I found the oboe extremely easy. Some people find the horn extremely easy. The way to choose an instrument is to pick one you like the sound of most. If you still can't decide then go for something that most people don't play because that way you will have a more interesting time.

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    I tried it out (it's not an end-all listing):

    Breath Support: (I assume how much air it takes to make any sound)
    1. Flute
    2. Tuba
    3. Trombone
    4. Horn
    5. Trumpet
    6. Saxophone
    7. Bassoon
    8. Clarinet
    9. Oboe

    Breath Control: (I assume the ability to use air over time, which is the same scenario as the above)
    1. Flute
    2. Tuba
    3. Trombone
    4. Horn
    5. Trumpet
    6. Saxophone
    7. Bassoon
    8. Clarinet
    9. Oboe

    Intonation:
    1. Flute
    2. Trombone
    3. Saxophone
    4. Clarinet
    5. Horn
    6. Trumpet
    7. Bassoon
    8. Tuba
    9. Oboe

    Fingering:
    Bassoon
    Saxophone
    Clarinette
    Oboe
    Flute
    Horn
    Trumpet
    Tuba
    Trombone (But this is why they are higher up for intonation)

    Natural Resistance to making any sound at all... (i.e. clogging, embouchure technique etc...)
    Oboe
    Bassoon
    Flute
    Trumpet
    Clarinette
    Saxophone
    Horn
    Trombone
    Tuba

    Natural Resistance was the hardest to determine, because each instrument has its difficulties. If you can make a sound from a flute, it comes easy to some, but is impossible to others. Same with all the rest. I'd say the brass hurt the lips more than all the other instruments, but that's not necessarily making them harder to play. I still think double reeds are the trickiest to actually make a sound on, though I have not personally tried.
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    I've tested out all the brass, though I can't call myself knowledgeable. Brass fingerings are an idiots delight compared to woodwinds - it's the embouchure that makes things difficult ( on the horn, any fingering can give up to sixteen possible notes depending on what your lips are doing; with the other brass, ten to twelve, typically ). They are mostly pretty hassle free compared to the more finicky reeds and strings, though you do need to empty water and do cleaning now and then.

    I loved the sound of the bassoon but I hated the elaborate fingering position. Horn makes me much happier. They're about equally difficult in terms of playing, but I chose difficult embouchure over difficult fingerings.

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    Senior Member MoonlightSonata's Avatar
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    I believe I read an article somewhere that made a case for the oboe and horn being the most difficult orchestral instruments.
    Beyond that, though, I cannot venture an opinion as I do not play any woodwind or brass instruments.
    ≥12

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    I have only played woodwinds, so I can't really say anything about brass, except that the horn seems to be the most difficult. On breath support and intonation, I'd say that the oboe is definitely the most challenging instrument. Bassoon has the most complex fingerings. Saxophone and flute are generally easy to pick up and don't require an uncomfortable amount of breath support and the fingerings aren't difficult (in my opinion of course). The clarinet doesn't have terrible fingerings, but it seems to take a bit more effort to get a nice tone on it, more so than saxophone anyway.

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    I bet I could pick up the tuba now that I've read this thread!

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    For brass, two things that are particularly difficult are double/triple tonguing and valve speed. There isn't any large amount of music that requires these techniques when changing notes (the hardest way to apply the technique), however. The lower the instrument, the harder it is and is also slightly harder on conically bored instruments in comparison to cylindrically bored instruments (conical=cornet, tuba, french horn or Euphonium/tenor tuba and tuba cylindrical=trumpet and trombone). While the valve combinations are easy on valved brass, making them sound smooth during fast passages is difficult. This is for two reasons, the first being that the travel time of the valve from open to closed is fairly high and the second being that no desirable sound can be made in the transitionary phase between open and closed position of the valve, requiring even faster fingers. The lower the instrument the more this problem is exacerbated.

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    I concur with the comments of 'Classical Saxophonist', 'Huilunsoittaja', 'Fagotterdammerung', 'OboeKnight' and 'Classicalphile'.

    My guess is if you can get a decent sound on a flute that may be the way to go for you. The fingerings are similar to the recorder.

    All wind instruments have problems with spit. I am a bassoonist and I am constantly struggling with my reed and blowing the spit out of my bocal. Sometimes the moisture gets so bad I will have to blow it out of the e and d holes during a performance. It looks silly when I pick up my horn and put my mouth over the e hole to blow away the moisture. I once had person who came up to me after a performance and ask me what note I was trying to play.
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  17. #12
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    I played clarinet and it was no walk in the park. You are completely at the mercy of that little thin piece of cane wood.
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    ^^^That's exactly why Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone.
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    The fingering positions of the flute repeat at the octave, the clarinet doesn't. 1-0 to the flute.

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