Definition and background:
A vibrating device in some woodwind instruments that consists of a piece of cane bound to a mouthpiece by a ligature. The player's breath is blown between the reed and the mouthpiece, causing a vibration of the reed and thus sounding the instrument. Single reeds are used in clarinets, saxophones, etc.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary