Questions tagged [orchestra]

A sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments.

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Why are there pairs of wind instruments in a symphonic orchestra?

Why is it so that there are often two identical oboes, two identical clarinets, two identical bassoons and two identical trombones in a symphonic orchestra? Is it just because one instrument is not ...
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Describing the difference between a mass and an opera?

I have a tradition of listing to Bach's "Mass in B minor" around springtime of each year, as I was once part of a chorus-ensemble that performed it a number of years ago. My wife doesn't ...
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5 votes
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What is the largest number of parts (divisi) an instrument should have?

I often write music for orchestras, and I was wondering what is the largest number of parts I should assign to one instrument. For example, I'll often write 5 french horn parts, and sometimes up to 6 ...
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What are popular songs with a philharmonic orchestra arrangement/accompaniment called?

I am trying to understand whether there is a name for this genre, For example, Somewhere over the rainbow and many songs of Ray Charles like this Eleanor Rigby one. and like in this Barbra Streisand ...
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Do scores or ancillary materials often specify the number of string personnel?

A question came up recently about the practice of specifying the performing forces for a score using a string of numbers (e.g. 2-2-1-1, etc), and I expressed surprise that it bothered to also make a ...
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Nervous about concert! [duplicate]

I have a concert tomorrow and im really nervous, i have practiced many MANY hours but I don't think iv'e practiced enough for the concert, or maybe it just that im really nervous....any tips? I play ...
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8 votes
1 answer
435 views

Question about the abbreviation for 2 instruments in an orchestra score

I'm learning an orchestra score and I'm really new to that. I'm figuring out what instruments are included in this score, and I get most of them (correct me if there is any mistake). However, I'm ...
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4 votes
1 answer
142 views

The interaction between strings and woodwinds in an orchestral setting

I have only worked with relatively small orchestras, and in that time, one of the biggest problems is the combination of strings and woodwinds, especially in contrapuntal writing where the main voice ...
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Partially-optimized orchestra scores?

There are two different conventions I have seen for orchestra scores. In one, the full orchestra is shown on every page. Even if the flutes don't play a single note, (for example) their staff ...
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Why do famous conductors rarely conduct ballet?

Why do famous conductors rarely conduct ballet? However, many famous conductors spend a large chunk of their time conducting operas beside just symphonic works.
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1 answer
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How long to wait before following up with conductors? [closed]

An emerging composer is seeking to have some of their work performed by a smallish professional orchestra (i.e. not something like the Boston Symphony, but a fairly well-known regional symphony). The ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Can you explain the transposing convention in this Jean Sibelius's score?

I am looking at a 1954 edition of Jean Sibelius's orchestral score for Tapiola. It has the Concert Pitch instruments (Flutes, Violins etc) in two sharps. He then has various other key signatures which ...
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Who chooses an orchestra's repertoire?

Who chooses the repertoire for a large, state-level orchestra (or the orchestra of major city)? In my experience, in smaller amateur orchestras the conductor is relatively easy to contact (via email), ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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How could you make a key change sound natural

I've been working on an orchestral piece for a while and I want to include a key change. For example, from Bb major into Eb major. How could one go about changing keys in a way that makes the music ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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Do film scores match film dialogue pitch?

Human speech (including dialogue in movies) has a certain pitch. The harmony between the film dialogue and the film score can be influenced by the filmmakers. For example, the score can be composed ...
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2 answers
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What is this chord progression/ascension called?

There is this specific sequence of chords that I have always liked, it ascends by fifths at the same time it ascends by whole tones, ending on a melodic minor scale, scale which has always been my ...
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7 votes
2 answers
823 views

Why do temple blocks come in sets of 5?

It seems like temple blocks are commonly sold, bought, and played in sets of five as pictured here: Image Source My old high school had a set like this, but we never needed more than two blocks for ...
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Does having both first and second violin on the same staff replace the use of div. in a symphony score?

With consideration to the general rule that when div. is presented upper notes in the music are played by the violinist sitting on the outside, and lower notes are played by those sitting on the ...
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18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Tuning the lowest bass string a hair flat

I was listening to Abbey Road but it's just Bass and it sounds like the low E string is a hair flat in a lot of the songs. How did they get away with that? When I was in the pep band many years ago ...
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Modern (Hollywood) score convention for Solo & Tutti

I've written my first orchestral score, and I've engraved it, as best I can, in a style to serve recording it by a conductor and orchestra on a sound stage in a short session, Hollywood soundtrack ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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Why does the exponential curve that shows up in the orchestra not overwhelm anything?

So, I've noticed these ratios of range in the modern orchestra, which is primarily strings: Soprano:Alto - Factor of 4 or 5 more soprano than alto Tenor:Bass - About twice as much tenor as bass Alto:...
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3 votes
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How to conduct a fermata over a rest?

I'm currently learning how to conduct Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique - Reveries and Passions. In the first few bars there are fermatas over a few rests and I know I'm supposed to prolong and hold the ...
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How does a symphony orchestra play in such perfect harmony?

I'm talking about live performances. I respect all musicians who allow us to enjoy beautiful art of music. The number of musicians in a modern symphony orchestra may be up to 100 and each person has a ...
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3 votes
1 answer
127 views

What is the biggest chord ever written for orchestra?

Firstly I must define what I mean by "biggest". I mean the chord that has the most differently named notes in it not counting duplicates. Initially I was assuming equal temperament but if ...
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6 votes
2 answers
558 views

How do I transpose an orchestral piece if it will push some of the instruments out of their range?

Chord inversions seem to be the obvious choice, but sometimes it changes the overall harmony or disturbs the voice leading. Am I stuck with that key of whatever the orchestral piece is originally ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why are keys changed away from the original in some orchestral pieces

I have noticed recently, take this piece for example, The Thieving Magpie Overture by Rossini. There seems to be several versions in different keys. Why are versions made that are different to the ...
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2 votes
4 answers
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Are there note patterns on each string instrument that can not be played?

I am a high school band kid who is trying to compose orchestral music for the first time. I have done several band compositions, be it jazz or classical, but this is my first time composing orchestra ...
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1 vote
1 answer
60 views

I need help to identify the instruments of a composition (in a movie)

Probably this is very easy to answer for people who know the composition of an orchestra and which sound comes from which instrument. My question is, what is the instrument (or the composition of ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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How does an orchestra hold groove?

I am used to symphonic orchestras playing classical music which does not take a rhythm as a constant, but rather as a variable which could be adjusted based on stylistic demands of the context (I ...
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1 vote
2 answers
97 views

Which should I record first?

So my problem is that I don't know which is recorded first, do you record the orchestra first or do you record the drums or guitar first? I've tried recording the drums first but it didn't sound ...
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0 votes
0 answers
36 views

Name of orchestral styles of Krzysztof Penderecki and Elliot Goldenthal

I just came across Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima after learning of his death this morning. The orchestral style is much like that heard in Elliot Goldenthal's score for ...
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Two Stringed Instruments in Unison?

I have been receiving conflicting information from orchestration bigwigs. Some say that composers should never orchestrate two stringed instruments together because they will be ever so slightly out ...
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2 answers
83 views

Alternate Criterias for MA in Music (or any other Degree that increases likelihood of getting Orchestras play my works) [closed]

Greetings MusicStackExchange, I put my intention first (I'm in HighSchool, You might need this information to understand why I'm asking this question) : I wish to work with Orchestras and Hopefully ...
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2 votes
2 answers
73 views

Orchestra with basses and percussion swapped

I recently attended a concert by the CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) and was surprised to see an unfamiliar layout of the instruments. I frequently attend CBSO concerts and most of the ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Looking for "big & brassy" band finales [closed]

I apologize for the crude example, but the last part of "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch" (timestamp: 1:17) is a direct reference to the trope I'm talking about. I've heard finales like these in countless ...
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3 votes
2 answers
116 views

Where can I read more about Monteverdi's role in the evolution of the orchestra?

I have seen it mentioned here and there that Claudio Monteverdi was the first composer to score for a specific set of instruments, for his opera Orfeo in 1607, and that this had a significant impact ...
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4 answers
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Problems composing transitions and bridge passages

Background: I have been composing orchestral sketches (non-professionally) for some time now. I see the progress and notice, that everything becomes much simpler after practicing multiple hours a day (...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Has it always been the tradition for conceto soloists to have their music memorized?

At all the performances of concertos I've attended, the soloists perform without sheet music, whether it is a concerto for piano, viola, or horn. Has this always been the performance tradition for ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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How to determine BPM by timestamps/events

I'm currently taking part in a scoring competition where the task is to score the music for a product trailer. As common in trailer music I now want to sync my music with the trailer almost ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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What is this sound, instrument? (Rheingold, Wagner)

I am currently composing something and I really want to have this sound in my piece. It sounds like a small hammer hammering on metal. It starts at 1:08:07 (...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What are the common instrument blends in classical/romantic symphonies? [closed]

The motivation of my question "What are the common instrument blends in classical/romantic symphonies?" is to learn which instrument combinations (e.g. clarinet + violin, horn + oboe + bassoon etc..), ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Learning the sounding of classical orchestra instruments with Noteperformer, Sibelius Sounds 7

This question is a follow-up of: How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra? If I transcript some of my compositions (which are now written for piano) and make ...
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17 votes
7 answers
5k views

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

I want to train myself into distinguishing the instruments being played simultaneously in orchestral music (primarily Wagner and Bruckner, maybe Mahler). Ideally I want to be able to say at each point ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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When working on a excerpt that is difficult for one section, what should the director do to not waste practice time with the rest of the sections

When MDing, if a section has an excerpt of the music that is quite difficult and may require 10-15 minutes of work in order to build understanding of that section, what should the Music Director do so ...
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10 votes
2 answers
666 views

Players of unusual orchestral instruments

Consider a professional orchestra with a fairly wide repertoire. Obviously it will need players of all of the strings pretty much all of the time. However, for many of the other instruments, the ...
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4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Non-Chromatic Orchestral Instruments?

I would like to know which instruments of a modern orchestra are not able to play a full chromatic run? I know that the harp for example is in a certain key and you have to use the pedals to change ...
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31 votes
4 answers
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Why is the saxophone not common in classical repertoire?

Other than the fact that its relatively new compared to other orchestral instruments (e.g. the violin), why is the saxophone (any of them from the family, alto, baritone, tenor etc) not more prevalent ...
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4 votes
1 answer
545 views

What does a small slash through a line on the staff mean?

The slash mark is shown multiple times in the piece, and it’s not just shown on the top line. The slash goes between notes and on any of the staff lines. I just want to know what it signifies.
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14 votes
3 answers
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Why are almost all the people in this orchestra recording wearing headphones with one ear on and one ear off?

I was watching this video showing the behind-the-scenes recording of Ed Sheeran's 'Perfect' single, and I noticed that everyone in the orchestra (that I could see) is wearing headphones with one ear ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Is it possible to learn to play the violin for a year and be able to play in an amateur orchestra afterwards? [closed]

A little bit of background: when I was younger (around middle school) I played the piano for approximately 4 years. We're talking about around 10 years ago. I used to take regular lessons and also ...
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