The instruments in a woodwind quartet usually have different ranges that allow for rich harmonies with high and low tones. Since these four instruments are from different subgroups of the instrument family, wind quartet music has timbral variety from each instrument's resonance.
In addition to its use as a chamber ensemble, the woodwind quartet may function as a concertino group in a concerto grosso. Examples are the Quadruple Concerto for woodwind quartet and orchestra (1935) by Jean Françaix, and the Concerto Grosso for woodwind quartet and wind ensemble (1959) by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Paul Hindemith added a harp to the woodwind quartet in his Concerto for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, harp, and orchestra (1949).
Woodwind quartet repertoire
- Karl Goepfart (1859–1942), Wind Quartet in D minor, Op. 93 (1907)
- Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959), Quartet, for flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon (1928)
- Jean René Désiré Françaix (1912–1997), Quartet for winds (1933)
- Frank Bridge (1879–1941), Divertimenti (Prelude, Nocturne, Scherzetto, and Bagatelle) (1934–1938)
- Arthur Berger (1912–2003), Quartet for Winds in C Major (1941)
- Jesús Bal y Gay (1905-1993), Divertimento para cuatro instrumentos de viento (1942)
- Elliott Carter (1908–2012), Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwind quartet (1950)
- Milton Babbitt (1916–2011), Woodwind Quartet (1953)
- Tadeusz Baird (1928–1981), Divertimento for flute, oboe, clarinet & bassoon (1956)
- Mario Davidovsky (born 1934), Three Pieces for woodwind quartet (1956)
- Nancy Van de Vate (born 1930), Woodwind Quartet (1964)
- Steven R. Gerber (born 1948), Woodwind Quartet (1967)
- Gloria Coates (born 1938), Five Abstractions of the Poems by Emily Dickinson, for woodwind quartet (1975)