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The Orchestra

Learn about the different instruments that comprise a classical Orchestra

Mary Farnsworth

on 9 February 2011

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Transcript of The Orchestra

The Orchestra The Orchestra is a dominate feature in Classical music, most classical music is played by an Orchestra The development of the modern Orchestra (what we see and hear today) occurred in the 18th Century.

(That's about 300 years ago!). The Orchestra is composed of 4 distinct families of instruments; the Strings, the Woodwinds, the Brass, and Percussion.

Why are they called families?
Because the instruments in each family share a number of characteristics: like how they sound, how they are made, and what they are made from. A full orchestra has about 100 musicians and is led by the conductor. What an Orchestra looks like today. What an Orchestra may have looked like 300 years ago The Strings The Strings are played by drawing a bow across the strings or by plucking the strings. The String family makes up more than half of the orchestra. Many of the instruments look similar but are very different in sound and size. The instruments have a wooden body and nylon or steel strings. Playing with a bow Playing by plucking the strings Violin The Violin is the smallest of the Strings. The sound of the violin is high and sweet. Violins are played by running a bow across the strings. There are 30 violins in an orchestra Viola The Viola may look like a violin but it actually bigger. The Viola sound is also deeper (lower) than the violin too. Violas are played by running a bow across the stings. There are between 10 to 14 violas in an orchestra. Cello The Cello may look like a violin but it much bigger. The Cello is about 4 feet tall. It's not as big as a Double bass. The cello has the largest range, it can reach both high notes and low notes. There are between 8 and 12 cellos in an Orchestra. Double Bass The Double Bass is the largest member of the Strings family, just over 6 feet tall. The sound of the Double Bass is very deep and low, the lowest of the Strings family. The Double Bass is played by running a bow across the strings. There are 6 to 8 Double Basses in an Orchestra Harp The Harp looks the most different from it's family members. The Harp is about 6 feet tall and weights 90 pounds. The Harp is played by plucking the strings with your fingers or by using a pick. In an Orchestra their is only 1 or 2 Harps. The Woodwinds What makes the Woodwind family special is that originally all the instruments were make out of wood. These instruments use a thin piece of wood or a reed in order to make a sound. The Woodwinds are played by blowing across the reed to make it vibrate. Clarinet The clarinet is a long slender black tube with a flared bell and metal keys. It looks a lot like an oboe, except for the mouthpiece. The Clarinet is a single reed instrument. There are between 2 to 4 Clarinets in an Orchestra. Oboe The oboe is a long slender black tube with metal keys. It looks a lot like a clarinet, except for the mouthpiece. Unlike the Clarinet the Oboe is a double reed.There are 2 to 4 Oboes in an Orchestra. Bassoon The Bassoon is the largest member of the Woodwind family. The bassoon is a long tube, folded in half, with lots of metal keys. If the Bassoon were straight it would be over 8 feet tall. Like the Oboe the Bassoon is a double reed. There are 2 to 4 Bassoons in an Orchestra. Flute Flutes can be made from lots of different materials. Today there are usually made from metal, but they are still a member of the Woodwind Family. Unlike any of its family members the flute does not use a reed. In an Orchestra there are between 2 to 4 Flutes. The Brass Different notes are made by opening and closing different valves, which look like buttons. Member of the Brass family really are made of Brass. Brass instruments can play loudest of all the instruments of the Orchestra. These instruments are played by pressing your lips against the mouth and making a buzzing sound. The Buzzing makes the air vibrate and creates sound. French Horn The French horn actually did originally come from France, it was invented in the late 17th century, about 400 years ago. The French Horn has a Round Shape and 4 valves. There are usually 4 French horns in an orchestra, but there can be as few as 2 and as many as 8. Trumpet The trumpet has been around for a very long time. People have been playing trumpet-like instruments made of conch-shell, horn, wood or metal, for thousands of years. The Trumpet is shaped like a paper clip with three valves. The Trumpet plays the highest sounds of the Brass family. There are between 2 to 4 trumpets in an orchestra. Trombone The trombone is a powerful and unique instrument. Instead of having valves, the trombone uses a slide to change sounds. Different sounds are made by moving the slide up and down. The Trombone is shaped like a bent letter S. In an Orchestra there are 3 Trombones. Tuba The tuba is the largest brass instrument and has the lowest pitch. The tuba is a long metal tube, curved around and around, with a huge bell at the end. There is usually one tuba in an orchestra. The Percussion To Play a percussion instrument you hit it, shake it, or scrap it. Snare Drum A Snare Drum is a hollow cylinder with two drumheads stretched over it, one on the top and one on the bottom. The drumheads are made of calfskin or plastic. Snare drums are used to keep the rhythm and make special sounds, such as drumrolls. You play the snare drum by hitting the top with sticks, mallets, or brushes. Timpani Timpani are large metal pots with drumheads stretched over their tops. The drumheads are made of calfskin or plastic. Timpani help keep the rhythm and support the melody. Most orchestras have four timpani of varying sizes and pitches, usually played by one musician. You play timpani by hitting the drumheads with felt-tipped mallets or wooden sticks. Xylophone
The Xylophone is made of wooden bars that you hit with a mallet underneath the bars are metal tubes that give the Xylophone a ringing sound. Piano The Piano has a keyboard with 88 keys. When you press a key it moves a little hammer that hits a string and makes a sound. You can play lots of keys at once using both hands. Bass Drum The Bass Drum is the biggest drum in the Percussion family. A Bass Drum is a large hollow cylinder with drumheads stretched over both sides. The bass drum makes the lowest sounds in the percussion family and is used for rhythm and mood. You play the bass drum by hitting either side of the drum with sticks that have large soft heads, often covered with sheepskin or felt. The Condutor The Conductor is the person who directs the musicians through a song. They keep the musicians together during the song, controlling the tempo (how fast or slow the song is) and the volume.
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