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Wind and Brass Instruments- The Solo Voices of the Orchestra
Transcript of Wind and Brass Instruments- The Solo Voices of the Orchestra
The Solo Voices of the Orchestra
& Categorization of Instruments
Musicologists divide instruments into five distinct categories based on how the instruments produce sound. The Wind and Brass instruments fall into the same category.
create sound with air. A column of air can be split with the presence of a mouthpiece or reed. The variety of methods of splitting the air stream or instigating a column of air to vibrate is one of the main contributors to instrumental color.
Composers, conductors, arrangers, and musicians in general tend to divide these instruments by family or group within the orchestra. These labels are determined by both the material that each instrument is made of, but also by the role each instrument plays within the orchestra. The woodwind family, due to the diversity of the group, is divided further by the way sound is produced
is the most versatile of the families, due to the multitude of materials the instruments are made off and the variety of mouthpieces that are used for the woodwind instruments. The woodwind family can further be divided by how these aerophones split the air column:
Split Air Column
produce sound by splitting the air column with the use of a mouthpiece. The flute and its secondary relatives (such as the Piccolo, Alto, and Bass Flutes) are woodwinds within this category.
produce sound by splitting the air column against a single reed. The Clarinet (Eb Clarinet, A Clarinet, and Bb Bass Clarinet) and Saxophones (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone) are woodwinds within this category.
produce sound by splitting the air column against two reeds (pressed against one another, so it produces a ‘mouthpiece’ in a sense). The Oboe (English Horn and Oboe d’Amore) and Bassoon (Contrabassoon and Contrabass Bassoon) are woodwinds within this category.
are considered a homogenous group, as all of the instruments use a relatively similar mouthpiece to produce the pitch and the instruments are made of a relatively similar material. Brass players buzz their lips in order to creative vibrations in the air column. The brass instruments have considerably fewer secondary instruments because they are a more homogenous group than the woodwinds. The primary brass instruments include: French Horn, Trumpet in Bb, Tenor Trombone, and Tuba.
timbre or tone color- the difference in the quality of sound between instruments
the differences in how these overtones are stressed (and unstressed) create the differences in timbre
The Characters of the Orchestra
‘Peter and the Wolf’ (1936)
Each character in the story has a particular instrument and musical theme:
Bird (represented by the Flute)
Duck (represented by the Oboe)
Cat (represented by the Clarinet)
Grandfather (represented by the Bassoon)
Wolf (represented by the French Horns
Hunters (represented by the woodwind group + percussion)
Peter (represented by the string instruments)
Woodwind & Brass Ensembles
A Brief Survey of “The Virtuoso” in the 20th Century
‘Density 21.5 ’ (1936)
utilizes the extremes of the range- the lowest and highest notes of the instruments
uses a non traditional technique called lip pizzicato which mimics the sound of plucking a stringed instrument. The effect is very light and quiet
the name of the work is called ‘Density 21.5’ because it’s the density of Platinum, which is what the performer’s flute was made out of for whom the piece was written
‘Sequenza V for solo Trombone ’ (1965)
uses extended techniques or non-traditional techniques to maximize the number of different sounds that the trombone can make, including:
rattling mutes on the bell of the horn
vocalizing/speaking through the instrument
singing while playing at the same time
changing the direction of the bell to create spacial effects with the sound
changing placement on stage to create spacial effects with the sound
‘Toccata and Fugue in D minor’
(1740ish- exact date unknown)
lots of monophonic textures at the beginning
also lots of writing for parts that is in OCTAVES or UNISONS during the monophonic texture
also uses homophonic textures, in addition to polyphony, which was popular during the Baroque Era
FUGUE is a type of form that is related to a round, but more complicated, and automatically creates polyphony in texture
original version was for organ/keyboard, which is why the ORCHESTRATION for brass works so well (because it’s a homogenous group, and has a good blend)
Summer Music for Woodwind Quintet (1956)
the woodwind quintet has the following instruments:
flute (air column)
clarinet (single reed)
oboe (double reed)
bassoon (double reed)
the ensemble is small enough that, with practice, the ensemble does not need a conductor to stay together
like in an orchestra, the principle player (in this case, the flute player) is the leader
by having instruments play the same part together, new tone colors and timbres can be made to help expand the possibilities of the ensemble.
unlike the brass quintet, there is not nearly as much blend, as the instruments included are all made of different materials and produce pitch in the same manner
with such different timbres, we are able to follow more complex textures (heterophony and polyphony) with less difficulty than more homogenous groups, like the string quartet
The Young People's Guide to the Orchestra (1945)
leit motif: when a melody represents a person/place/idea/emotion. Used commonly in film scoring (ex: theme music)
although written in 1945, because it's based on a melody by Handel (Baroque Era), the piece is TONAL and takes on a much more ROMANTIC ERA tone
composed as an educational tool to introduce different instrumental families within the setting of the orchestra
uses a combination of HOMOPHONIC, HETEROPHONIC, and POLYPHONIC textures