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Questions tagged [orchestra]

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

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6 answers
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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 ...
iddober's user avatar
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60 votes
10 answers
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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 ...
SovereignSun's user avatar
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50 votes
9 answers
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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 ...
SRiss's user avatar
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37 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Eli Iser's user avatar
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35 votes
7 answers
54k 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 ...
InternalConspiracy's user avatar
33 votes
4 answers
8k 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 ...
Khalian's user avatar
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29 votes
5 answers
10k 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?
SysDragon's user avatar
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27 votes
9 answers
10k 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 ...
David says Reinstate Monica's user avatar
26 votes
5 answers
70k 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?
Shevliaskovic's user avatar
24 votes
6 answers
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, ...
Kari Kääriäinen's user avatar
23 votes
7 answers
16k 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 ...
NReilingh's user avatar
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21 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
S.L's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
luser droog's user avatar
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17 votes
7 answers
7k 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 ...
NickQuant's user avatar
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16 votes
7 answers
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 ...
Carpid's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
3k views

How do orchestras synchronize bow movement?

The last few times I've been to see the orchestra, I've noticed that the bow movements of all the strings are synchronized. I've been in bands and choirs before but never a group with strings, so this ...
David K's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
João Paulo's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
nabla's user avatar
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15 votes
6 answers
1k 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 ...
Félix Gagnon-Grenier's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
803 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 ...
Kari Kääriäinen's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
985 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 ...
Dan Sheppard's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
cmp's user avatar
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14 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
stanri's user avatar
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13 votes
9 answers
5k 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 ...
WeSee's user avatar
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12 votes
4 answers
3k 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 (...
NickQuant's user avatar
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12 votes
6 answers
71k views

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 ...
Evorlor's user avatar
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12 votes
5 answers
9k 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 ...
Z0mbiePenguin's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

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., ...
Klangen's user avatar
  • 487
11 votes
6 answers
3k 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 ...
Stone's user avatar
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11 votes
4 answers
7k views

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 ...
Saturnix's user avatar
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11 votes
6 answers
4k 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/...
Jeremy Lindsay's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
889 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?
Juliano's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
2k views

How quickly can a [skilled, professional] percussionist switch between tam-tam and bass drum?

Can a professional orchestral percussionist play tam-tam and bass drum together? Could he/she position the two instruments near enough that they can played one with each hand? The passage... is loud ...
nuggethead's user avatar
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10 votes
5 answers
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 votes
1 answer
520 views

Arrow below staff pointing to number

What does this arrow below the staff pointing to six mean? Do I repeat the measure until 6, rest until 6, or something else? If it helps at all this is pit orchestra music for a musical :) Thanks!
Devious Capybara's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
25k 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 ...
Abel Cheung's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
692 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 ...
badjohn's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
3k 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) ...
General Nuisance's user avatar
9 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
Tim's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
848 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 ...
nuggethead's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
2k 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:...
Caters's user avatar
  • 6,574
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does ff mean for time duration?

I found a cue manager for composers and saw a record: Start TC End TC (hhmmssff) (hhmmssff) h - hours m - minutes s - seconds I don't understand what f(ff) means. Can you explain me please? the ...
Алексей Шиманский's user avatar
8 votes
7 answers
6k 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 ...
paradox's user avatar
  • 372
8 votes
4 answers
2k views

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 ...
brilliant's user avatar
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8 votes
5 answers
688 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 ...
Stan Shunpike's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
617 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 ...
MusicalChicken's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
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 ...
luser droog's user avatar
  • 15.1k
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Orchestral strings disposition (numeration meaning)

It's going to be the first time I'll be trying to compose a piece to be played by an orchestra and I don't know much about orchestral strings numeration/disposition. I just ran into this Composers ...
ppareja's user avatar
  • 287
8 votes
4 answers
533 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.
LAsder's user avatar
  • 81
8 votes
2 answers
847 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 ...
badjohn's user avatar
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