Everyone with great taste in music loves orchestra. The music is great and the experience is exhilarating. It is an art that has existed for as long as during the era of ancient Greece.
It is made up of a group of artists playing different instruments while being guided by the conductor to make sure the keys and notes are on the right track thus providing a smooth blend of various sounds.
Apart from the artists, the instruments are very vital to the success of an orchestra. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a member and would like to join then your first step should be getting acquainted with the various equipment.
Below are some details that can help you with that. Also, due to technology, you can now be able to play orchestral music instruments virtually on your computer just by using a few of the best plugins available.
What are the categories available?
The classification into different classes referred to as families are done based on the attributes of the equipment. From this, we have the brass, percussion, woodwind, and string families. This is self-explanatory. As the names suggest, for instance, string family instruments have strings and a good example is the violin. The brass family has those made of brass.
What are the standard instruments in each family?
There is a lot of equipment in each family but only a few standard ones.
- Woodwind family
The name was derived from the fact that they were all made of wood. That has changed since nowadays most of them are made up of other materials like plastic and light metals. Still, their basic principle of operation is the same.
They have two endings one of which is fitted with a mouthpiece. Air is blown in through the mouthpiece. It travels through the hollow body and gets released at the other end and the perforated holes.
The holes are blocked using the fingers at different times and manner to produce the desired sound. The standard ones in this category are clarinet, oboe, flute, and bassoon.
The flute is used for the melody as it is high-pitched.
The oboe is a double-reed piece that gives out sound when the air blew in makes the reeds vibrate. The bassoon is also double reed but has a much lower pitch. The clarinet is a single-reed. See more about the woodwinds here https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/bring-the-noise/the-woodwind-family/z7hphbk
- String family
These have strings of different properties. Some of the properties include thickness and tightness which affects the keys of the sound that can be produced.
An equipment known as a bow is moved across the strings causing them to vibrate and produce sound. The most popular in this category is the violin. It is also the smallest but has the highest pitch.
This is followed by the viola which complements the violin. Next is the Cello, which is large hence is played while sitting down. It is rested on the ground vertically. Then comes the double bass which is larger than the others and is usually played while standing. All these are made of wood. Click here to find out more about the string family.
- Percussion family
These are mostly played by shaking or hitting them to produce sound. They can either be classified as pitched or unpitched depending on the nature of the sound. The pitched ones have the capability of producing various pitches depending on how they are designed.
Some are meant to produce only a single specific one. Examples include marimba, celesta, timpani, vibraphone, and glockenspiel. These are mainly suitable for melodies.
The marimba is played by gently hitting it with a small mallet and produces soft tones.
It is made up of pieces of wood that are tuned differently. The timpani, on the other hand, is basically a drum with the hitting surface made of hide. It has a foot pedal used for adjusting the drumhead for different notes.
A vibraphone has a keyboard which instead of being played with the fingers it uses small sticks like the ones for marimba. The glockenspiel bears much resemblance to the vibraphone.
Unpitched ones don’t have a well-defined note. These include tambourine, bass drums, cymbals, and triangle. Percussion instruments are suitable for setting the rhythm.
- Brass family
As mentioned earlier, these are made of brass. They work like the woodwind equipment considering that you blow air into them and control the flow. They are different though in that intensity of blowing required is high.
You have to blow hard to produce the sound hence they are mostly played by people with large lung capacities. The most popular is the trumpet. The note is controlled by pressing the valves which block or allow air to flow further.
It also has the highest pitch. It is followed by the horn. The number of horns in a single orchestra usually ranges from 2 to 10. Next in line is the trombone which is rather different as it uses a slide to regulate the flow of air thus controlling the note.
The tuba is another brass instrument that uses valves and is large hence mostly rested on the laps. Read more about the brass orchestral instruments on this link https://www.thomann.de/blog/en/7-brass-instruments-differences-in-sound-and-playing-style/
The equipment above is key in live orchestras of any kind. A maestro is only as good as their instrument. Being one requires that you identify the instrument that best suits you and you are passionate about then put in plenty of practice. You have to be one with your instrument hence you should know all there is to know about it. You must understand the particular uses that it is best for to avoid off-keys. The violin, for instance, is a versatile piece that can generally fit in more than one part but is best used for high-pitched needs. Music lessons will equip you with the appropriate knowledge required to comprehend the more sophisticated coordination. All in all, remember that patience is of essence.