Questions tagged [orchestra]

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

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65
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6answers
13k views

What does a conductor actually do?

Looking for the roles of the conductor during a musical performance, I mainly came across answers as the following, taken from Wikipedia: "The primary duties of the conductor are to unify ...
59
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10answers
13k views

Have orchestras included any modern instrument lately?

Over the years orchestras have added various new instruments to their set and I'm thinking that there are quite many modern interesting instruments that might be included in an orchestra set. Have ...
49
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9answers
26k views

Why are orchestras tuned differently?

In 1936 American Standards Association (and the International Organization for Standardization in 1955) accepted that A would be tuned at 440 Hz (or cycles per second). Yet despite the fact that a ...
36
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3answers
3k views

Do composers take advantage of the position of players in an orchestra for effect?

While listening to Brahms Symphony no. 1, I noticed that there is an interesting stereo effect, alternating left and right, (to my untrained ear) between the violins and the cellos/double basses, at ...
34
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7answers
52k views

What is the difference between a "band" and an "orchestra"

Growing up, my father listened to big band music. These bands are usually referred to as "Glenn Miller and his orchestra" Or "Paul Schaeffer and the CBS Orchestra". Is it that an orchestra has ...
31
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4answers
7k views

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 ...
28
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5answers
9k views

Why does the orchestra tune to the oboe?

Most of the time, an orchestra will tune to the oboe. Why is that? What is the next instrument if, for some reason, there are no oboes?
27
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10answers
9k views

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

I am not a music expert and I have always wondered why orchestra performances require a conductor to play. The musicians are presumably professionals who have had much practice at this point, so why ...
25
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5answers
59k views

Is there any specific reason to why are the instruments placed as they are in an orchestra?

What is the reason that instruments in an orchestra are placed the way they are placed?
24
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6answers
4k views

Should low frequency players anticipate in orchestra?

"The bigger the instrument, the heavier the strings, the bigger the bow, the bigger the mouthpiece, the more you should anticipate." This concept is expressed occasionally by double bass players, ...
23
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4answers
4k views

As a soloist, should I face the audience or the conductor during long tutti sections?

I am playing a violin concerto with an orchestra and a fairly large audience in a few weeks. So my question is, in the long Tutti parts where I don't play, should I face towards the audience, and what ...
22
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6answers
13k views

Performance practice of Viennese Waltz

Occasionally, when I listen to an orchestra playing a Strauss waltz or something similar, I hear something interesting in the background rhythm of 'boom chik chik' in that the first 'chik' happens ...
18
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2answers
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 ...
17
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7answers
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 ...
16
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7answers
5k views

Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

I play in an amateur wind orchestra and I noticed that generally people do not play from memory at all and look into the sheets for the entire piece. I'm no exception for the most part but here and ...
16
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1answer
2k views

What does this shorthand mean?

I was reading an article on the Internet and saw this notation: 3*3*3*3* – 4331 – tmp+3 – hp – cel/pno – cds (14/12/10/8/6) Then, searching on Google, I could see that this is a shorthand for ...
16
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3answers
769 views

Are there historical or musical reasons to why the concertmaster of an orchestra is a violinist?

So far, I have found and read a number of articles about the role and duties of an orchestra concertmaster, or first violinist. There is also this possibly related question which discusses the spatial ...
15
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6answers
940 views

What greater possibilities allows playing late from the conductor

There's a lot of differences in the way conductors direct the tempi in orchestral representation, but one of them is the timing between when we're expected to play and the actual down movement of the ...
14
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3answers
3k views

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 ...
14
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4answers
679 views

Are there any "etudes for the orchestra"?

Are there any "etudes for the orchestra"? Football teams don't practise just playing football all day long, but they do all kinds of "orchestrated" team exercises just like hockey players and ...
13
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4answers
4k views

Why are some instruments listed 'in F' or 'in B'?

I am looking through scores of pieces that I particularly like. I can't understand (as this is the first time I have come across it) why here, in the manuscript, some instruments are named as ...
13
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2answers
858 views

Score for orchestra tuning

I was talking this monring about Cage's 4:33 and I mentioned that I'd love to see a score for an orchestra tuning. It's one of the most recognisable sounds in concerts and has many distinctive musical ...
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4answers
2k views

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 (...
12
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4answers
7k views

Do the violas often play the same parts as the violins in an orchestra?

Are violas always part of an orchestra? How are they typically used? Do they often play the same parts as the violins to create a richer texture? I'm new to orchestration and have been wondering ...
12
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3answers
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Emulating human performance in orchestral software

I recently bought Garritan Personal Orchestra and find it a great tool to get professional-sounding orchestral renders of my scores. However, I feel a certain lack of "human" playing in it, i.e., ...
11
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9answers
4k views

How do you count many bars of silence (rests)?

Playing in a jazz band there are often 5,6 or 8 bars of silence. This is no problem as I can count them on my fingers. But how do I count larger rests, for example 52, 112 or even longer rests, as in ...
11
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6answers
2k views

Parallel fifths in the orchestra

I started to learn orchestral music with four part harmony for choirs and there you always try to avoid parallel fifths and octaves... How does this relate to a whole orchestra? Do you have to take ...
11
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4answers
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German abbreviations for instrument names in score markings (Wagner - Tannhauser)

I'd like to know to which instruments are these signatures referring. I think "Pos" is a trombone but I may be wrong. Please note these are from page 2 of Wagner's Tannhauser ouverture and, most ...
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6answers
2k views

How do composers get their works performed?

How do composers (professional or not) get their works performed by orchestras and soloists? While we're at it, how and where do composers publish their music and where do orchestras/musicians/...
10
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7answers
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What is first chair?

I am under the impression that first chair is the seat reserved for the best player of a particular instrument. Second chair would be reserved for the second best. Is that all there is to it? Or does ...
10
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5answers
8k views

What are good sources for free orchestra scores?

Are there usable free sources for (symphonic) orchestra scores? I'm talking about legal sources for pieces that are now in public domain.
10
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3answers
806 views

Could a group of musicians play a new piece by sight-reading on first attempt?

Is it possible, without any rehearsal, relying solely on sight-reading? Are there any experiments of this kind with octets, nonets, maytbe entire orchestras?
10
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2answers
657 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 ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Aren't conductors like Valery Gergiev hard for orchestras to follow?

All of the conductors I've had in the past have had a very... English style of conducting. They show you what they want with the baton and then you play it, but God forbid that you play with or (gasp) ...
9
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2answers
701 views

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 ...
9
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3answers
1k views

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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4answers
19k views

When to use a2 / unis / tutti in orchestral score?

So far from most of the sheet scores I've read, a2 is used mostly in wood and brass instrument staves, while unis. (and on rarer occasion, tutti) is in string instruments. It is even possible to see ...
8
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4answers
2k views

Loudness of A Contrabass

I was watching a play called The Contrabass and the actor stated that "the contrabass is different from other instruments in that, it is heard better as one moves further from it" (please note that ...
8
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7answers
5k views

Can I have two different instruments play the same melody at the same octave?

I am writing an orchestral track and so far I have written the melody of strings (violins and such) and I want to add trumpets and here are 3 things I consider. 1) Have the trumpets play the same ...
8
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5answers
3k views

Tuning hierarchy for orchestras

Several recent questions have been about tuning. Often an orchestra will tune to the oboe. One reason for this is that oboes are the only instruments that cannot be tuned. 1. What if the oboe was ...
8
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2answers
11k views

Why is this conductor holding a toothpick?

I was watching a performance of Ravel's Bolero, conducted by Gergiev: And I noticed that instead of a baton he was holding a toothpick: Why is he holding it instead ...
8
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5answers
521 views

What happened to the orchestral scores of Johann Strauss?

As far as I understand, Johann Strauss and his family attempted to burn many of his scores. For this reason, most of them are not to be found on IMSLP. Is this true? One reason I am confused is ...
8
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2answers
2k views

How does Ballet music differ from an Orchestral Suite of the same name?

Now, I've loved Stravinsky's music, ever since 10th grade music appreciation class when we learned that Le Sacre Du Printemps caused a riot at its first public performance. But I discovered to my ...
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4answers
165 views

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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2answers
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Why are time signatures not used in this score?

I was looking at this hand-written short score (to be completed by other arrangers): The only thing that strikes me about it (maybe there should be others) is there is no written time signature. Why? ...
7
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4answers
2k views

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 ...
7
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3answers
3k views

Orchestra warmup sounds

Background: I am guitar player who does not know anything about tuning other instruments and classical music traditions I really love the sound of warming up (and final tuning) of an orchestra. They ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Has there ever been an orchestra without a conductor?

I don't think I have ever seen an orchestra where there wasn't someone conducting. Has there ever been such an example of an orchestra? Edit: By conductor, I mean the guy swinging the baton:
7
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1answer
656 views

Historically informed performance - Tuning

I recently attended a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto by Nicola Benedetti and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Marin Alsop. At the end, Nicola played an encore: a version of ...
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2answers
817 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 ...