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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49 votes
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Why is the saxophone not common in classical repertoire?

This question has been asked many times and various reason have been proposed: The saxophone is too loud or doesn't blend There are numerous recordings proving that the saxophone in the hands of a ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
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41 votes
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Do composers take advantage of the position of players in an orchestra for effect?

Absolutely! Especially in the Classical period, where the 1st & 2nd violins were seated on opposite sides of the stage. This allowed for antiphonal effects like this easily heard one in the coda ...
Dean Ransevycz's user avatar
35 votes

Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

Orchestra musicians should always be playing off of the sheet music. The concert is probably 1.5-2 hours of music, and it needs to be played precisely. In addition, professional orchestras rehearse ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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29 votes

Why are time signatures not used in this score?

This free-thinking question has already provoked at least one thoughtful answer. The sample score happens to have time signatures, however, beginning with 4 bars of 4⁄4 and going into a bar of ...
lauir's user avatar
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26 votes

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

You could remain directly facing the audience, with the smile gradually dripping from your face to be replaced by something between boredom & abject terror... ...or you may find it a lot easier ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
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26 votes
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Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

At least for me, but probably for many other musicians too, playing from memory works completely different compared to playing from sheets. What I memorize aren't individual, absolute notes. Rather, I ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
26 votes
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How do orchestras synchronize bow movement?

All the three options you enumerate come into play: some bowings are obvious: a measure of four quarter notes with no markings is very likely going to be down-up-down-up. A forte note by itself will ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
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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

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

IN orchestral (and other instrumental) music, the notation like "Clarinet in Bb" (or "Klarinette in B") means that the instrument is a "transposing instrument." When the clarinetist plays what his ...
ttw's user avatar
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24 votes
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What does this shorthand mean?

I would recommend consulting the source where you found this. If it was a publishing company, they may have their own system of shorthand that will clarify this. Otherwise, this all seems relatively ...
Richard's user avatar
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23 votes

Parallel fifths in the orchestra

IF you care about avoiding parallel fifths and octaves—and that’s entirely a stylistic choice on the part of the composer—then, for the most part, you care about them regardless of the instruments ...
Pat Muchmore's user avatar
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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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21 votes
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Tuning the lowest bass string a hair flat

Thanks for a great question. Being a bassist and an admirer of Paul and the Beatles it was great to hear isolated bass tracks from the Abbey Road album. In answer to your summary question, there ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
20 votes

Why are almost all the people in this orchestra recording wearing headphones with one ear on and one ear off?

One ear isn't covered, so they are able to hear their own playing / instrument. The headphone on the other ear is usually playing a click track to keep them in time. This is also very important to ...
Andy's user avatar
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19 votes

Loudness of A Contrabass

This is partly a myth and partly due to the physical size of the bass. Some people (even professional musicians) believe that low frequency sound waves "need room to develop". That's completely false....
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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18 votes
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As a soloist, should I face the audience or the conductor during long tutti sections?

Some performers prefer the "look busy" approach. I once attended an oboe concerto performance in which the oboist swabbed out his instrument every time he had more than 4 measures' rest. I suppose a ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
18 votes
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Arrow below staff pointing to number

This is an indication that the measure numbers are discontinuous. The numbering goes from 1 directly to 6, so presumably there were measures 2-5 that got cut at some point. This happens frequently in ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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17 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

You begin by listening to individual instruments, to learn what they sound like, and the variations in their sound. Solo pieces, quartets, etc. are one way to do this. Searching Youtube for instrument ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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17 votes
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Question about the abbreviation for 2 instruments in an orchestra score

Br. is short for Bratsche, which is german for Viola. K-B. is short for Kontrabass, which is german for Contrabass a.k.a. Double bass. The two Viol. parts are both Violins. An orchestra has two ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
16 votes

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

My go-to approach for this is just to let your eyes guide the audience to where you believe their attention should be. If you look at the orchestra after you have been the center of attention for a ...
Doc Hoss's user avatar
  • 261
16 votes

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

All three would be viable options. Doubling the parts in unisons or octaves normally would be for bending a unique timbre. Obviously doubling by unison/octave does not create a harmonic change or ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar
15 votes

Have orchestras included any modern instrument lately?

An "orchestra" tends to consist of permanent players covering a broad enough repertoire to keep enough of audience and sponsors interested in keeping the orchestra running. As a result, the vast ...
user36058's user avatar
  • 151
15 votes
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Emulating human performance in orchestral software

I just watched a series of videos of film composer Hans Zimmer who mocks up all his soundtracks using software and virtual instruments so the directors can hear what it's going to sound like before ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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15 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

There are several compositions written in purpose to present the orchestra, the instrument sections and the single instruments to the audience and especially for children like Peter and the wolf (...
Albrecht Hügli's user avatar
14 votes

Should low frequency players anticipate in orchestra?

It's not as much as a "perfectly synchronized start". Low instruments have a slow attack both physically as well as taking longer to register in hearing. At the same time, they are providing the ...
user33805's user avatar
  • 149
14 votes
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How do composers get their works performed?

These are great questions. BIG questions, but great nonetheless. How so works get performed? There is an old composition adage: first you write for yourself, then you write for your friends, then ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
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14 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

Get an idea, how each instrument sounds separately (as covered in other answers) Train to read scores of ensembles with increasing number of instruments while listening. For orchestra pieces like ...
guidot's user avatar
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