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29

A good conductor: Provides musical leadership Unifies the ensemble in the musical moment Decides on the how of music that cannot be communicated in the score Communicates to the ensemble non-verbally At the top level of your question, indeed, there exist ensembles that perform without a conductor. These ensembles are often heavily rehearsed, and quite ...


22

You ask "if most things are known in advance"---but who made those advance decisions? A conductor's role begins long before the actual performance, even before rehearsals begin. S/he makes decisions such as what tempo "Allegra ma non troppo" really means, how loud forte really is, how to coordinate one hundred people to play rubato together, how to balance ...


14

It is often a matter of tradition inside the orchestra that becomes out of control for conductors. When they create their own orchestra they have the pleasure to decide this for themselves. The conservatism from musicians has several reasons: Some Orchestra have a concert hall with a large organ which is tuned for this frequency Wind players usually ...


13

Yes. High-paid studio musicians are all expected to sight read perfectly on the first read. There are even programs to illustrate and develop the skill for younger musicians. Many movie soundtracks are recordings of first-time sight reading.


12

Band is a very imprecise term. Many swing bands contain stringed instruments (Double Bass obviously or Bass Guitar) and some have contained string sections. Pop bands can contain almost anything. Orchestras can contain almost anything as well, but pretty much but tend to be Strings Woodwinds Brass Percussion In symphonic situations. Philharmonics tend ...


11

Small ensembles in the pop and folk idiom can all go by the term of band; this answer will focus on what are referred to as "large ensembles." In the jazz context, the name of orchestra was historically applied in order to give credence to groups that would otherwise have been marginalized by the cultural mainstream and racism. That term has now been ...


11

Wagner was German, so the instrument names are in German. (Die Posa is Latin for "placed on") Yes, Pos. is short for Posuane, German for trombone. Btb. is short for Basstuba, German for Bass tuba (duh :P) Pk. is short for Pauken, German for Timpani zu 3 is short for zusammen drei, German for (literally) "three together"


10

from my bookmarks: http://www.sheetmusictrade.com/ http://imslp.org/wiki http://icking-music-archive.org/index.php http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/ http://www.mfiles.co.uk/sheet-music.htm http://www.bh2000.net/score/ http://www.rowy.net/sheet_music.html http://www.free-scores.com/index_uk.php3 plus in French: http://www.lespartitions.info/gratuites/index.php ...


10

Here is a comprehensive chart from Yale University Library which provides the names of all the major orchestral instruments, and more, in English French German Italian Russian (albeit in the Latin alphabet) Spanish It does not provide a list of the common abbreviations like the ones in your example score. It provides the full names of each instrument in ...


9

In an orchestral situation, it is a terrible idea to rely on the conductor - they may not be able to cue you or instead are going to give a more important cue. Just because you are not playing does not mean you're allowed to sit and wait for a bus. Scores that have been edited well will have "cues" written in the parts, so, say you zone out accidentally or ...


7

Essentially your intuition is correct--there must be differences for the publisher to have found it necessary to print a new set of music. In the cases you mentioned, the music was originally written for the ballet; subsequently the composer went back and made some editorial decisions to allow the piece to stand on its own without a dance company. This may ...


7

Even if I would not take the late Karajan as a reference for this, you are right, the first time of each bars of a Wiener Waltzer is almost always played short, usually the leading voice is even slighter in advance than the bass when the melody is written on 3 quarter notes. This can be approximated as removing 1/6th of the first time and adding it in ...


6

From my experience as a band musician, I can say that most of the importance of the conductor is during rehearsing. A well rehearsed orchestra composed of good musicians can play without a conductor in case of necessity, but without him they would probably never be able to successfully rehearse a piece of music. An orchestra is a very complex organism and ...


6

As a brassplayer, 442 on up seriously sucks. We are placed in the position of playing where the instrument doesn't resonate in the same way. Even 4 cents difference will render the slides too long even if the open instrument can be accomodated to a higher tuning frequency. Fie on brighter tuning!


6

In an orchestra, let the conductor do the work for you - they should let you know your moment is coming. In a smaller group, say a string quartet, you wouldn't expect such long rests (after all, you're 25% of the ensemble) - but learn what the other parts sound like and use that to time your return. So instead of "Now I count 64 bars", it's "I'll come back ...


6

There are several reasons for why the instruments of an orchestra are placed the way they are. Musicians are located and positioned accordingly to be able to see the conductor easily. All similar instruments are gathered together in several groups. This allows musicians to hear each other better to accomplish coordinated activities, thus providing harmonic ...


6

I’ve played (as an amateur) in a wind band and in the wind section of an orchestra where we did practice dynamics, attacks, tempo and in general following the director instructions most rehearsals. And, obviously, practicing passages is what most rehearsals are about. Complete with style instruction such as “this is italian music, don’t hold your short ...


5

When the concert master (first chair violinist) comes on stage, it is their job to tune the orchestra. The concert master plays a concert A for the orchestra. The sounds you then hear are those of each instrument tuning to the A given by the concert master. Since each string instrument (violin, viola, cello, and double bass) has four strings, they must tune ...


5

This seems to be shorthand for the number of instruments it's written for - unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a standard, and each publisher uses it's own notation. According to Wikipedia, the strings notation 2.1.2.1.1 means 2 first violins 1 second violin 2 violas 1 cello 1 double bass


5

Orchestras tune higher if they can get away with it because higher pitches sound more brilliant. This has led to inflation of standard pitch over time. There are, however, practical limits to how much inflation is possible, since audiences will cry foul if the result is closer to the next semitone up. Also, some instruments, such as pianos, can be damaged ...


5

Since I have been studying and living in Austria as a South African music student I have had several opportunities to play waltzes in orchestras. Especially New Years concerts consist of a couple of famous Viennese Waltzes and since the first time I had to play one of these, I have also been fascinated by this interesting rhythmical appearance. Being both ...


5

The slash symbol through the stem of a note is called a "tremolo" notation, and signals that the same pitch or chord is to be repeated at a certain rate. In your example, it is a shorthand for eighth notes. The half note signifies the length of time the notes will fill (in this case two beats). The stem plus the dots shows the division. Here is a good ...


4

Don't overlook your local library. I find that university libraries (especially when they have a music program) will have a lot more sheet music than you might think (if your library uses Library of Congress indexing, look under M). Many city public libraries carry orchestral and operatic scores as well (usually at the "main" or "downtown" branch).


4

To add to @cardian's list: http://www.classical-scores.com/free/ http://www.8notes.com/orchestra/ http://www.freesheets.org.uk/ http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/ http://musicaviva.com/fsmd/ Also: http://www.bandmusicpdf.org/ http://dme.mozarteum.at/DME/briefe/doclist.php


4

This method of notation is in fact short hand. It saves on space and time both for the person putting the information down, and for the person reading. It is true that there is no critically-accepted standard, but there are general guidelines that composers follow when they use that shorthand method; which I will outline below: Typically, dashes are used ...


4

As Reina pointed out, the slash is a kind of an abbreviated beam, indicating, that the note has to be played as repeated eigth notes (two slashes/beams would indicate 16th etc.). The dots are most likely the staccato dots for the resulting four eights, so nothing changes in comparison to the previous bars.


4

You don't actually have to count every bar that you don't play especially if you go many bars without playing anything. Most large form pieces and even Jazz pieces are broken down into smaller parts i.e. an A section, a B section, C section, ect. So you could have sections A, B, and C be 32 bars each and you many not start playing until 4 bars into section ...


4

This is a very interesting discussion on this subject: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=608598 Edit: adding some of the above link content on request. I've put the original question in italics, and some of the more interesting answers follow. I understand the benefits of placing the musicians where they are in the orchestra (eg, all ...


4

I am a music major, and I have to say that I have never heard of such a thing. There are works for orchestra with unusual titles (Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra comes to mind), but these pieces aren't studies so much as full performance works. I have many acquaintances who play in symphony orchestras for a living, and I have never once heard of such a ...


3

Generally, the distinction is between a "military band" and a "symphony orchestra", historically the two most common types of large instrumental ensembles. The major difference between those two is that a military band has no stringed instruments (with the possible exception of double bass), instead replacing that area of the sonic space with additional ...



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