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Instruments of the Orchestra

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by

Brad Gillet

on 9 October 2016

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Transcript of Instruments of the Orchestra

Viola
The Viola may look like a violin, but it is actually bigger. The sound of the Viola is lower and deeper than the violin. Violas are played by running a bow across the strings. There are between 10 and 14 violas in an orchestra
Strings
The strings family makes up more than half of the orchestra. Many of the instruments look similar but they are very different in size.
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
The Orchestra
Instruments of the Orchestra
Target Goals/Scale
4. Identify orchestral instruments by sight and by sound, and sort them into families.
3. Identify orchestral instruments by sight and sort them into families.
2. Identify the four families of instruments and give some examples.
1. Name the four families of instruments.
Target Goal
I can identify each instrument in the orchestra and its family
The orchestra is composed of four different families of instruments; Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, and Percussion.

The instruments in each family share a number of characteristics including how they sound, what they are made of, and how they are played.
A full orchestra has about 100 musicians and is led by a conductor.

Sometimes they perform with a choir or for a staged show, like a ballet or an opera. Some are even used record the soundtrack for a movie
The Orchestra is a dominate feature
in classical music. Most classical music
is played by an orchestra
The modern orchestra (what we see and hear today) developed in the 18th Century. That's about 300 years ago! Here's what it may have looked like:
Cello
The Cello is bigger than both the violin and the viola. The Cello is about 4 feet tall. Although not as big as a double bass, It is too big to hold under the chin. There is a "peg" at the bottom so it can rest on the floor when played. The cello has the largest range, so it can reach both high notes and low notes. There are between 8 and 12 cellos in an orchestra.
Double Bass
String Bass
The Double Bass (or String Bass) is the largest member of the Strings family. It is just over 6 feet tall. It is so big, the musician must stand or sit on a stool to play it! The sound of the Double Bass is very deep and low. It is the lowest of the strings family. It is played by running a bow across the strings. There are 6 to 8 Double Basses in an Orchestra
Bass Drum
The Bass Drum is the largest drum in the Percussion family. It is a big hollow cylinder with drumheads stretched over both sides. The bass drum makes the lowest sounds of the percussion 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.
Snare Drum
A Snare Drum is a hollow cylinder with two drumheads stretched over it. One is on the bottom, and one is on the top. On the bottom, a series of metal beads on a set of strings are stretched across the head. This "snare" gives the instrument it's fuzzy, cutting sound. Snare drums are used to make rhythmic sounds and other effects, like drumrolls. The snare is played with sticks, mallets, or brushes
Xylophone
The Xylophone is made of wooden bars that are hit with a mallet. Underneath the bars are metal tubes that help the sound travel. The keys of the xylophone are the same as those of the piano.
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. The timpani is played with felt-tipped mallets or wooden sticks.
Percussion
A percussion instrument is anything you can hit, ring, shake, or scrape. Some percussion instruments have pitch, like the xylophone, and some, like a drum, are unpitched.
Oboe
The oboe is a long slender black tube with metal keys. It looks alot like a clarinet, except for the mouthpiece. Unlike the clarinet, the oboe is a double reed instrument and it has a much different sound. There are between two and four oboes in an orchestra.
Woodwinds
Members of the woodwind family all have a series of several keys to press down, which produce higher or lower sounds when pressed in different combinations. Most woodwinds were originally made of wood.
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 uses a single reed. There are between two and four clarinets in an Orchestra
Flute
Flutes have been made of many different kinds of material, including wood. Today, they are usually made of metal. Unlike any of its family members, the flute does not use a reed. A sound is produced by blowing across a hole. In an orchestra, there are between two and four flutes.
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 uses a double reed. There are between two and four bassoons in an orchestra
Trombone
The trombone is a powerful and unique instrument. Instead of having valves, the trombone uses a slide to change pitch. Different pitches are played by moving the slide up and down. The Trombone is shaped like a bent letter "S". In an Orchestra, there are 3 Trombones.
Brass
Members of the Brass family are really made of brass. Brass instruments have cone shaped bells at the end of their long tubing that allow them to play loudest of all the instruments in the orchestra.
Trumpet
The trumpet plays the highest sounds of the Brass Family. In some shape or form, the trumpet is one of the oldest pitched instruments. Thousands of years ago, people played a trumpet-like instrument made of an animal's horn to alert a community or an army. The modern trumpet is shaped like a paper clip with three valves. There are between two and four trumpets in an orchestra.
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 the orchestra.
French Horn
The French Horn actually did originally come fom France. It was invented in the late 17th century, about 400 years ago. The French Horn has a Round Shape and 3 valves. There are usually 4 French Horns in an orchestra, but there can be as few as 2 and as many as 8.
These instruments have a wooden body and nylon strings
Strings are played by drawing
a bow across the strings or by
plucking the strings
Drawing the bow
Plucking the strings

Harp
Side note: The Double Bass is often used to play Jazz "pizzicato"!
The harp looks the most different from its family members. The harp is about 6 feet tall and weighs 90 pounds. Each string plays one pitch. The strings are colored to identify notes. The harp is played by plucking the strings with your fingers or by using a pick. There is usually only 1 harp in an orchestra.
Piano
Tubular Bells
Side note: Different size Bass Drums are used in marching bands. Each drum has a different pitch. When played together, they create a unique sound
The Piano has a keyboard with 88 keys. When you press a key it moves a small wooden hammer that hits a string a makes a sound. You can play lots of keys at once using both hands. The piano is a pitched percussion instrument.
Tubular bells, also known as Orchestral Chimes, are a series of brass tubes of different length set up together on a large stand. They are struck with a wooden mallet to produce a sound. They sound like church bells. On the bottom is a pedal that is used to help sustain a pitch, which means to hold it for a long time.
Auxilliary
There are many other instruments in the percussion family used in the orchestra to create different special effects. These include cymbals, triangles, tom toms, cowbells, woodblocks, and countless others. It all depends on what kind of sound the composer wants in the piece of music. Together, these other percussion instruments are called Auxilliary.
Side note: A drum set, or drum kit, is rarely used in an orchestra. It is basically a combination of all of the important percussion instruments in the orchestra. A drumset includes a snare, tom, bass drum, and cymbals.
Woodwinds use a thin piece of wood, called a reed in order to make a sound. Musicians blow across the reed to make it vibrate.
Side note: The Saxophone is a woodwind instrument that is not found in an orchestra. It was invented in 1840 by Adolphe Sax. He wanted to create a new instrument that was powerful in sound and easy to play. The saxophone uses a reed, is made out of metal, and has keys like the other woodwinds. However, since this instrument is newer than alot of orchestra music that is played, it is not usually found in an orchestra!
The Conductor
Brass instruments are played by pressing
your lips against the mouthpiece and making
a buzzing sound. This buzzing makes the air
vibrate and creates sound.

Embouchure = the use of facial muscles to create a sound in an instrument
Different notes are played by opening and
closing different valves, which look like
buttons. Brass instruments only have 3 or 4
valves to press because different notes can
be played with different valve combinations.
Side note: The Sousaphone is also a tuba, but
it is not found in an orchestra. The Sousaphone
was invented by John Philip Sousa (America's March King)
as a type of tuba that could be carried and played loud in a marching band. It's coiled tubing allows it to be wrapped around a player's body and the bell faces towards the audience instead of upward like a regular tuba.
Side note: Another brass instrument found in a band, but not an orchestra is called the baritone. Adolophe Sax (who invented the saxophone) also played a role in the creation of this instrument in the 1830s. It looks like a miniature tuba, and it plays higher. It is also lower than the trombone's tenor sound. Therefore it fills in a gap because of its range of pitches and its unique quality of sound.
The Conductor is the person who directs
the musicians through the song. They keep the musicians playing together by helping to keep the beat, controlling the tempo (how fast or slow the music goes) and the dynamics (the volume).
Side Note: The composer is the person who
writes the music played by the orchestra. An orchestra can play compositions that were written weeks ago, hundreds of years ago, or anything in between!
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