e-ISSN: 2625-378X
p-ISSN: 2701-2689


Re-Contemplating the Classification of Multiple Reeds

Liu Xiangkun [刘祥焜]

ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL 8 (2021)     pp: 19-26     2021-12-09
Re-Contemplating the Classification of Multiple Reeds

Stichworte/keywords: von Hornbostel–Sachs, Classification, Multiple reeds, Shawm, Timbre

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[刘祥焜], L.X. (2021). Re-Contemplating the Classification of Multiple Reeds. ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL, 8 , 19-26. doi:10.30819/aemr.8-3
doi = {10.30819/aemr.8-3},
url = {},
year = 2021,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {8},
pages = {19-26},
author = {Liu Xiangkun [刘祥焜]},
title = {Re-Contemplating the Classification of Multiple Reeds},

The 2011 Revision of the Hornbostel-Sachs Classification of Musical Instruments by the MIMO Consortium categorises the “reedpipes with double (or quadruple) reeds” (422.1) according to the number of pipes, bore shapes, and finger holes, as it does to many other instrument groups. However, this scheme rather overlooks the significantly varied features of the multiple reeds themselves – their structural difference that determines their making and functioning, and how they connect to the pipe body – especially considering the vast varieties and distribution of multiple reeds compared with other types of reed pipes. Following the hierarchical classification of reed pipes (422) primarily according to the types of reeds, this paper would propose a further classification based on the “subtypes” of multiple reeds. The first level divides into “idioglot reeds” and “staple-mounted reeds” based on the connection of reeds with the pipe body. Idioglot reeds make one-part and two-part reed pipes, the former “usually a flattened stem” of the upper end of the pipe itself and the latter made from unbroken thick cane that fits inside the pipe bore. In contrast, staple-mounted reeds make three-part reed pipes. Some have fixed sides so that only the tips of reed blades are free to vibrate, while others have detached individual leaves that can vibrate on all sides. Given that reeds, as the primary source of sonic vibration, decide many fundamental features of a reed pipe, this recontemplated classification is likely to provide more distinct insight into their construct, functioning, and historical lineages.
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