Sordino - Woodwind


Sound from woodwinds emanates mainly from the holes in the instrument's body. Muting woodwind instruments is very uncommon, and in the case of the flute is almost completely unheard of. In the 18th century purpose-built mutes existed for the oboe and clarinet, but in the rare cases when one of these instruments is muted today a handkerchief is usually stuffed up the bell resulting in a muffled sound. Some bassoonists still use purpose built mutes, generally as a way of regulating volume at extremes of the instrument's register.

There exist saxophone mutes which are usually made of a soft material (such as velvet, silk or chenille) woven around a hard inner ring (usually brass or plastic). This mute is placed in the bell, most commonly perpendicularly to the body of the saxophone. This softens the tones of the saxophone somewhat, and can be useful in classical settings as it also dampens the sound a bit. They are not in common use, but they are not rare either. They are usually only made for the alto saxophone, although bigger and smaller ones can be made and used for higher and lower registers of saxophone. Some companies currently produce mutes that cover the entirety of the instrument (such as the E-Sax Whisper mute and the Silent Sax case), thus dramatically diminishing the volume of sound produced. To date their overall effectiveness is still in question.

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