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Instruments of the Orchestra

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Marc Sfeir

on 20 February 2014

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Transcript of Instruments of the Orchestra

There are 4 main instrument families in the orchestra:

The String Family

The Woodwind Family

The Brass Family

The Percussion Family
Instruments Families
Instruments of the Orchestra
The piccolo (small in Italian) is the shorter version of the flute
It has been used to sound alarms, gather people together, as a call to war, and to add luster to parade music
Comes from the French hunting horn of the 1600s
Produces a wide variety of sounds ranging from very loud to very soft
Made of wood, with a hollow body inside to allow sounds from strings to vibrate within them
The strings (made of nylon) are played by drawing a bow (made of horsehair!)
The smaller instruments make higher pitched sounds
Largest Family of instruments in the orchestra. From highest pitched to lowest: violin, viola, cello, doublebass
The String Family
Wood: Obviously all instruments are made of wood
Wind: Narrow cylinders with opening at the top and a mouthpiece for the wind to pass
The smaller woodwinds play the higher pitches whereas the long and large ones play the low notes
From highest sounding to lowest: piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon and contrabassoon
Instruments made of brass obviously! Ancestors were made of wood or even animal horns
Very long pipes that are curved and twisted to use them easily
Valves along the pipe to create notes
Most common instruments are the trumpet, French Horn, trombone and tuba
The Woodwind Family
The Brass Family
French Horn
Double Bass
Different than the Oboe (single reed)
The E-Flat Clarinet is smaller and the Bass Clarinet is larger (called the GrandFather of the clarinet family)
The contrabassoon is much larger (Grandfather of the wind section)
The only instrument in the brass family that uses a slide instead of valves to change pitch
A standard trombone is made of long thin brass pipes
The largest and lowest brass instrument and anchors the harmony not only of the brass family but the whole orchestra with its deep rich sound
Largest family in the orchestra (# of instruments)
Sound comes from the hit, shake or scrape of an instrument
Most common instruments are the timpani, xylophone, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, maracas, piano etc.
The Percussion Family
You play it by hitting its 88 black and white keys with your fingers, which is why it belongs in the percussion family
Timpani are tuned instruments, which means they can play different notes
The timpanist changes the pitch by stretching or loosening the drumheads, which are attached to a foot pedal
The snare drum is a smallish drum made of wood or brass with drumheads made of calfskin or plastic stretched over both ends of a hollow cylinder
Snare Drums
Cymbals are the biggest noisemakers of the orchestra
They are two large metal discs, usually made of spun bronze
The English Horn (which is neither English nor a Horn!) is a longer and wider version of the Oboe
Full transcript