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83 votes
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Have orchestras included any modern instrument lately?

The biggest thing to understand about an Orchestra is that they operate "at a loss". To have a successful orchestra, you need to be able to have donors, ticket sales, and subscriptions. Donors make ...
coteyr's user avatar
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82 votes
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Do advanced musicians still practice scales every day?

My father was a French horn player for the New York Phil and later the Pittsburgh Symphony. It was a rare day when he didn’t go down to the basement and play a series of scales and arpeggios, ...
kojiro's user avatar
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79 votes

Can wind instruments be played out of tune?

Yes, all wind instruments can be played out of tune. Very out of tune. Source: I work with junior concert bands. To elaborate, the frequency produced by a given wind instrument is a function of the ...
endorph's user avatar
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68 votes
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Why can't drums produce melody?

Instruments don't just produce one frequency at a time. When you play a single note on a melodic instruments (like piano, wind instruments, string instruments, etc.), you produce many different ...
jdjazz's user avatar
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64 votes

Why aren't there attempts to evolve classical musical instruments so that they're easier to play?

Instruments are easier to play than they used to be. Take intonation, for example. Wind instruments don't play in tune by default. This is not a surprise to any player, or any parent of a junior-...
endorph's user avatar
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57 votes

Why do pianos not need to be tuned every time you play?

Piano strings are attached to a cast iron frame, also known as harp. Cast iron is much less sensitive to humidity and temperature changes than wood. This is the main reason why they stay in tune ...
ojs's user avatar
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56 votes

Do advanced musicians still practice scales every day?

I'm told that my great-grandmother, a professional pianist, practiced her scales for some hours each day. I don't think that you're "ever done," unless you've decided to quit playing. As with any ...
BobRodes's user avatar
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51 votes

Why can't drums produce melody?

The drums CAN play melodies, but the number of pitches and notes you have available are limited by the number of drums you have (not counting creative applications of "bending" the drum head to ...
Tekkerue's user avatar
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49 votes
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Can wind instruments be played out of tune?

Yes, wind instruments can play out of tune, even when the instrument is "tuned properly" (which isn't as well-defined as it seems). In fact, the same can be said for fretted string instruments as well....
Alex Jones's user avatar
41 votes

How can horns, most of which have only three buttons, play all their notes?

Put as simply as possible, horns are tubes. Blowing in special ways makes certain notes sound from those tubes. By changing one's embouchure, those notes start at a fundamental, then gradually go up ...
Tim's user avatar
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39 votes

Do advanced musicians still practice scales every day?

Supposedly Heifetz said, "If I skip practicing one day, I notice the difference. If I skip two days, the critics notice. If I skip three, the public notices."
ttw's user avatar
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39 votes

Why don't "classical" stringed instruments mark their note positions?

With many string instruments, it's seen as a bad thing to need to look at the fingerboard - often, it's desirable to be able to play the instrument by feel. This is essential if you're reading music ...
Нет войне's user avatar
34 votes
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Are there any instruments that don't produce overtones?

A tuning fork comes close, though amplifying it by placing it on some resonating object - a wooden table, piano case, or try your head :-) - will add some harmonics. The sound-producing element of a ...
Laurence's user avatar
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34 votes
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Which instruments to physically familiarize with to become a better orchestrator?

I would strongly advise you NOT to buy any instruments. You don't need to. Do you imagine composers play lots of instruments? They don't. The only instrument Berlioz played was a guitar - tolerably - ...
Old Brixtonian's user avatar
31 votes
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The loudest acoustic instrument

Under a strict definition of "instrument": pipe organ -- they'll shake your bones like a rock concert. The claim is that the Atlantic City Music Hall organ is the world's loudest instrument, with one ...
Dave's user avatar
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29 votes
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Is there a broader term for instruments, like the gong, whose volume briefly increases after being sounded instead of immediately decaying?

That's weird... apparently there's no English term for this exact phenomenon, but there is one in German: Einschwingvorgang (pronounced eyn-shving-fore-gung). Wikipedia wants to have it translated ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
28 votes
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Why do instruments have a key?

There are two concepts and ideas that happen in music which, when combined, explain why this happens. The first is that the way certain instruments are constructed affects what sounds they can ...
Dom's user avatar
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28 votes

Are very cheap cellos acceptable for a beginner?

I'm going to suggest an alternative route. Get him an electric cello. The weak point in cheap instruments is the acoustics, and to meet the price point they have to be constructed in a more rough-...
Graham's user avatar
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28 votes

Why do music directors use keyboard (or similar) instruments for composing music?

A piano/keyboard with its usual 88 notes covers the range of most other instruments put together. A lot of instruments have a range of two or three octaves only. A lot of instruments can (usually) ...
Tim's user avatar
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25 votes
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What is the oldest instrument ever?

It's probably not possible to tell. Wood and bone can often be inherently musical when struck, so some kind of proto-claves likely existed before recorded history. Rocks may have also been used for ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
  • 56.9k
24 votes

Have orchestras included any modern instrument lately?

coteyr has already accounted for why it's hard to add permanent new instruments to an orchestra in general. Let me give a slightly different perspective on short-term additions to the orchestra: As ...
Martin's user avatar
  • 401
24 votes
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What is the difference between a Bandoneon and an Accordion?

Both are hand bellows operated free-reed instruments. Accordion is typically unisonoric (same note on push and draw) and the left hand usually has a system of bass and chord buttons with unspecific ...
user38252's user avatar
  • 256
24 votes
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Why are double staff pieces of music not properly aligned for Middle C?

Relative to the Grand Staff, it's important to think of "Middle C" as a concept more than a literal visual expression. Here's why: Let's say you have a "grand" staff using 11 lines (5 for each staff +...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
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23 votes

Are there any instruments that don't produce overtones?

I've heard it claimed that human whistling comes very close to being a perfect sine wave: The video here seems to show only one peak on the spectrograph, supporting a nearly perfectly sinusoidal ...
user45266's user avatar
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23 votes
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What is the correct name for this instrument?

This is apparently called a contrabass valve trombone, or sometimes a cimbasso if I am correct.
Tom's user avatar
  • 5,092
22 votes

Should low frequency players anticipate in orchestra?

I don't have an answer for you with measurements in milliseconds, etc., but as a tuba player I can give you my experiences. I'm not consciously thinking of anticipating anything in order to get my ...
Richard's user avatar
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22 votes

Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound?

Is it an important thing to consider in Orchestration? You have in fact stumbled onto the very foundation (and art) of orchestration. Orchestration is about not only knowing how each instrument ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
  • 25.6k
21 votes

The loudest acoustic instrument

Loudness is a subjective sensation, so I will talk about an objective measure, which is the acoustic power that different instruments can generate. In contrast to the pipe organ answer, this answer is ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
  • 56.9k
21 votes

Why can't drums produce melody?

No-one's mentioned pans - aka steel drums They certainly are used to play melodies. The main problem is that melodies usually contain long and short duration notes, and drums generally can only ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 194k
21 votes

Why aren't there attempts to evolve classical musical instruments so that they're easier to play?

Here's my armchair-philosophical speculation. For the purposes of this speculation, I assume that the "difficulty" of playing an instrument means having too much responsibility i.e. freedom relative ...
piiperi Reinstate Monica's user avatar

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