1. A reed used with certain woodwind instruments, such as the bassoon and the oboe. The double reed is actually two pieces of reed, formed into thin blades at the tip and into a tube at the bottom end, which is attached to the instrument.

Instruments that use double reeds have no other mouthpiece -- the reed acts as the mouthpiece. To play most modern double reeds, the tip of the double reed is inserted partway into the mouth, with only the lips touching it. The lips are drawn firmly around the reed. My bassoon teacher suggested students use the image of a drawstring bag when forming their embouchure. Sound is produced when the blades of the reed vibrate.

2. Also, a term referring to the class of instruments that use double reeds. The standard double reeds of the modern orchestra include the oboe, the english horn, the bassoon, and the contrabassoon.

Bagpipes are also a double reed instrument, having a double reed in each chanter and drone. With bagpipes, these reeds aren't placed in the mouth, but are enclosed in a tube, and vibrate as air from the bag is forced through them.

The shawm is a double reed instrument, similar to an oboe but without keys, that was used in medieval and renaissance times. It arose in Arabic regions and made its way to Europe during the Crusdades.

Another traditional double reed is the crumhorm, which is a curved wooden tube with a cylindrical bore, and a reed which is covered by a wooden cap with a slit at the top that the player blows through.

The rackett, or "sausage bassoon" is another Renaissance double reed which consists of a block of wood or ivory around a foot in length and several inches thick, which has multiple (often around 9) parallel bores drilled through it, each connected with another bore at each end. This has the result that the bore of the instrument snakes through the block of wood, having an actual length that is nine times the length of the instrument, so you can get a surprisingly low note out of a small instrument.

A double reed (the actual reed itself, not the instruments) is actually a single piece of cane (bamboo, really!) that goes through several stages.

    Bassoon Reed Making
  1. From a cylinder of cane, a small strip is cut. For a piece thick enough for a bassoon reed, cane must often be grown for as long as ten years
  2. The cane is then shaped and gouged. This means that it is given the proper contour and the bark in the center is removed, leaving it only on the ends.
  3. The reed is then carefully folded in half!
  4. With careful scoring and a shaping tool, the ends of the reed are then formed into a tube.
  5. After the tube has been given time to properly set, wires and glue, and often thread, are set into place to keep the tube sealed and together
  6. The tip is cut off making an opening
  7. At this point, the reed is near playable, but not quite there. The remaining work is generally done with very sharp knives or files, and involves carefully and painstakingly removing small amounts of wood bit by bit.

The making of reeds is a true art that nearly all professional bassoonists and oboeists participate in.

As a random other fact, racketts come in varying sizes, my personal favorite is the bass rackett. Of course, that's also why I prefer the contrabassoon

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.