Wind bands started with the basic military bands used for ceremonies, parades, celebrations and funerals. Over time, these bands developed to include additional instruments. Today, the wind band is a diverse and powerful group that is capable of great musical diversity and strong musical dramas. There are professional wind bands in universities, colleges, private and military organizations.
The percussion family consists of two main types of instruments -- pitched and non-pitched instruments. The pitched group of instruments includes timpani, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel and celesta. The non-pitched instruments include woodblocks, cymbals, triangle, castanets, gongs and hundreds of other small instruments used for percussion effects. Additionally, there are several drums including snare drums, tom toms, bass drum and war drums. The percussion family is massive and diverse and percussionists are required to have proficiency in each instrument.
The bass family of instruments is the most powerful group in the wind band. As a section, they sound homogenous and create a formidable and dramatic wall of sound. Brass sections will vary in a wind band, although in a typical smaller wind ensemble there are several brass instruments. Typically, there are four to six trumpets, three trombone, a bass trombone, three to six horns, two euphoniums and one to two tubas. The euphonium is a less-commonly known instrument and looks like a small tuba but boasts a mellow sound and.
Woodwind instruments have a wide diversity of timbre between the instruments unlike the similar tone of the brass instruments. This family of instruments adds color and variety to a band. The most common woodwind format include a piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, six to eight clarinets, two bassoons, two alto saxes, a tenor and a baritone saxophones. When these instruments combine with each other they take on the other instruments characteristics. This enables composers and orchestrators to create original timbres.
Most bands have a keyboard player on hand for solos and pieces that specifically call for pianists. The keyboard player will almost always play a grand piano, although in some instances, she may be asked to play the harpsichord. Piano adds an extra percussive and melodic element to the wind band. The placement of the piano is typically between the percussion and woodwind sections.