An ORCHESTRA (/ˈɔːrkᵻstrə/ or US : /ˈɔːrˌkɛstrə/ ; Italian: ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music , which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin , viola , cello and double bass , as well as brass , woodwinds , and percussion instruments , each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments .
The term _orchestra_ derives from the Greek ὀρχήστρα (_orchestra_), the name for the area in front of a stage in ancient Greek theatre reserved for the Greek chorus .
A full-size orchestra may sometimes be called a _symphony orchestra_
or _philharmonic orchestra_. The actual number of musicians employed
in a given performance may vary from seventy to over one hundred
musicians, depending on the work being played and the size of the
venue. The term _chamber orchestra_ (and sometimes _concert
orchestra_) usually refers to smaller-sized ensembles of about fifty
musicians or fewer. Orchestras that specialize in the Baroque music
of, for example,
Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by use of a conductor\'s baton . The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. The conductor also prepares the orchestra by leading rehearsals before the public concert, in which the conductor provides instructions to the musicians on their interpretation of the music being performed.
The leader of the first violin section, commonly called the concertmaster , also plays an important role in leading the musicians. In the Baroque music era (1600–1750), orchestras were often led by the concertmaster or by a chord-playing musician performing the basso continuo parts on a harpsichord or pipe organ , a tradition that some 20th century and 21st century early music ensembles continue. Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire, including symphonies, opera and ballet overtures , concertos for solo instruments, and as pit ensembles for operas , ballets and some types of musical theater (e.g., Gilbert and Sullivan operettas ).
Amateur orchestras include those made up of students from an elementary school or a high school, youth orchestras , and community orchestras; the latter two typically being made up of amateur musicians from a particular city or region.
* 1 Instrumentation
* 1.1 Beethoven\'s influence
* 1.2 Expanded instrumentation
* 1.2.1 Baroque orchestra * 1.2.2 Classical orchestra * 1.2.3 Early Romantic orchestra * 1.2.4 Late Romantic orchestra * 1.2.5 Modern orchestra
* 2 Organization
* 2.1 Selection and appointment of members
* 2.1.1 Gender of ensembles
* 3 Amateur ensembles
* 4 Repertoire and performances
* 4.1 Performances
* 4.2 Issues in performance
* 4.2.1 Faking
* 5 History
* 5.1 Instrumental technology * 5.2 Wagner\'s influence * 5.3 20th century orchestra * 5.4 Counter-revolution * 5.5 Recent trends in the United States
* 6 Role of conductor
* 6.1 Conductorless orchestras
* 6.2 Multiple conductors
* 6.2.1 Offstage instruments * 6.2.2 Contemporary music
* 7 See also * 8 Notes and references * 9 Bibliography * 10 External links
The typical symphony orchestra consists of four groups of related musical instruments called the woodwinds , brass , percussion , and strings (violin , viola , cello and double bass ). Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes be grouped into a fifth section such as a keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and electric and electronic instruments. The orchestra, depending on the size, contains almost all of the standard instruments in each group.
In the history of the orchestra, its instrumentation has been
expanded over time, often agreed to have been standardized by the
classical period and
Ludwig van Beethoven
The terms _symphony orchestra_ and _philharmonic orchestra_ may be used to distinguish different ensembles from the same locality, such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra . A symphony orchestra will usually have over eighty musicians on its roster, in some cases over a hundred, but the actual number of musicians employed in a particular performance may vary according to the work being played and the size of the venue.
_Chamber orchestra_ usually refers to smaller-sized ensembles; a major chamber orchestra might employ as many as fifty musicians; some are much smaller than that. The term _concert orchestra_ may also be used, as in the BBC Concert Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra .
The so-called "standard complement" of doubled winds and brass in the
orchestra from the first half of the 19th century is generally
attributed to the forces called for by
Apart from the core orchestral complement, various other instruments
are called for occasionally. These include the classical guitar ,
heckelphone , flugelhorn , cornet , harpsichord , and organ .
Saxophones , for example, appear in some 19th- through 21st-century
scores. While appearing only as featured solo instruments in some
works, for example
The 20th-century orchestra was far more flexible than its predecessors. In Beethoven's and Felix Mendelssohn 's time, the orchestra was composed of a fairly standard core of instruments, which was very rarely modified by composers. As time progressed, and as the Romantic period saw changes in accepted modification with composers such as Berlioz and Mahler; some composers used multiple harps and sound effect such as the wind machine . During the 20th century, the modern orchestra was generally standardized with the modern instrumentation listed below. Nevertheless, by the mid- to late 20th century, with the development of contemporary classical music , instrumentation could practically be hand-picked by the composer (e.g., to add electric instruments such as electric guitar , electronic instruments such as synthesizers , non-Western instruments, or other instruments not traditionally used in orchestra).
With this history in mind, the orchestra can be analyzed in five
periods: the Baroque era , the
Classical music period ,
Romantic music era, late-Romantic/early 20th century music
and 21st century era . The first is a Baroque orchestra (i.e., J.S.
Woodwinds 2 flutes 2 oboes 2 bassoons Brass 2 natural
horns 2 natural trumpets
Woodwinds 2 Western concert flutes 2 oboes 2 clarinets (B♭ ,
C, or A) 2 bassoons Brass 2 natural horns (valveless) 2 natural
Early Romantic Orchestra
Woodwinds piccolo 2 Western concert flutes 2 oboes 2 soprano
clarinets 2 bassoons contrabassoon
Late Romantic Orchestra
Woodwinds 1–2 piccolo 3–4 Western concert flutes 3–4
oboes , of which some may double on (cor anglais ) 3–4 clarinets in
B♭ or A, of which some may double on (1–2 E♭ clarinet ; D
clarinet) and (bass clarinet ) 3–4 bassoons 1 contrabassoon
Brass 4–8 French horns , German horns , or Vienna horns (more rarely
natural horns ) 3–6 trumpets in F, C, B♭ 3–4 trombones 1–2
Woodwinds 2–4 Western concert flutes (1 doubling piccolo )
2–4 oboes (1 doubling cor Anglais ) 2–4 clarinets (1-2 doubling
bass clarinet and/or E♭ Clarinet) 2–4 bassoons (1 doubling
contrabassoon ) 1 contrabassoon (1 or more saxophones of various
types) Brass 4–8 German (usually double) horns in F/B♭ (in
France: French horns ; in Vienna: Vienna horns ) 3–6 trumpets in
B♭, C 3–6 trombones (1–2 bass trombones ) 1–2 tubas (1 or
more baritone horns /euphoniums ) (1 or more
* theremin * electric guitar * electric bass * synthesizer * Other electronic musical instruments * Non-musical instruments such as a typewriter or reel-to-reel tape player
Among the instrument groups and within each group of instruments, there is a generally accepted hierarchy. Every instrumental group (or section) has a PRINCIPAL who is generally responsible for leading the group and playing orchestral solos. The violins are divided into two groups, first violin and second violin, with the second violins playing in lower registers than the first violins, playing an accompaniment part, or harmonizing the melody played by the first violins. The principal first violin is called the concertmaster (or "leader" in the UK) and is not only considered the leader of the string section, but the second-in-command of the entire orchestra, behind only the conductor . The concertmaster leads the pre-concert tuning and handles musical aspects of orchestra management, such as determining the bowings for the violins or for all of the string section. The concertmaster usually sits to the conductor's left, closest to the audience. There is also a principal second violin, a principal viola, a principal cello and a principal bass.
The principal trombone is considered the leader of the low brass section, while the principal trumpet is generally considered the leader of the entire brass section. While the oboe often provides the tuning note for the orchestra (due to 300-year-old convention), no principal is the leader of the woodwind section though in woodwind ensembles, often the flute is leader. Instead, each principal confers with the others as equals in the case of musical differences of opinion. Most sections also have an assistant principal (or co-principal or associate principal), or in the case of the first violins, an assistant concertmaster, who often plays a tutti part in addition to replacing the principal in his or her absence.
A section string player plays in unison with the rest of the section, except in the case of divided (_divisi_) parts, where upper and lower parts in the music are often assigned to "outside" (nearer the audience) and "inside" seated players. Where a solo part is called for in a string section, the section leader invariably plays that part. The section leader (or principal) of a string section is also responsible for determining the bowings, often based on the bowings set out by the concertmaster. In some cases, the principal of a string section may use a slightly different bowing than the concertmaster, to accommodate the requirements of playing their instrument (e.g., the double-bass section). Principals of a string section will also lead entrances for their section, typically by lifting the bow before the entrance, to ensure the section plays together. Tutti wind and brass players generally play a unique but non-solo part. Section percussionists play parts assigned to them by the principal percussionist.
In modern times, the musicians are usually directed by a conductor , although early orchestras did not have one, giving this role instead to the concertmaster or the harpsichordist playing the continuo . Some modern orchestras also do without conductors , particularly smaller orchestras and those specializing in historically accurate (so-called "period") performances of baroque and earlier music.
The most frequently performed repertoire for a symphony orchestra is Western classical music or opera . However, orchestras are used sometimes in popular music (e.g., to accompany a rock or pop band in a concert), extensively in film music , and increasingly often in video game music . Orchestras are also used in the symphonic metal genre. The term "orchestra" can also be applied to a jazz ensemble, for example in the performance of big-band music.
SELECTION AND APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS
In the 2000s, all tenured members of a professional orchestra normally audition for positions in the ensemble. Performers typically play one or more solo pieces of the auditionee's choice, such as a movement of a concerto , a solo Bach movement, and a variety of excerpts from the orchestral literature that are advertised in the audition poster (so the auditionees can prepare). The excerpts are typically the most technically challenging parts and solos from the orchestral literature. Orchestral auditions are typically held in front of a panel that includes the conductor , the concertmaster , the principal player of the section for which the auditionee is applying and possibly other principal players and regular orchestra members.
The most promising candidates from the first round of auditions are invited to return for a second or third round of auditions, which allows the conductor and the panel to compare the best candidates. Performers may be asked to sight read orchestral music. The final stage of the audition process in some orchestras is a _test week_, in which the performer plays with the orchestra for a week or two, which allows the conductor and principal players to see if the individual can function well in an actual rehearsal and performance setting.
There are a range of different employment arrangements. The most sought-after positions are permanent, tenured positions in the orchestra. Orchestras also hire musicians on contracts, ranging in length from a single concert to a full season or more. Contract performers may be hired for individual concerts when the orchestra is doing an exceptionally large late-Romantic era orchestral work, or to substitute for a permanent member who is sick. A professional musician who is hired to perform for a single concert is sometimes called a "sub". Some contract musicians may be hired to replace permanent members for the period that the permanent member is on parental leave or disability leave.
Gender Of Ensembles
Historically, major professional orchestras have been mostly or entirely composed of male musicians. The first women members hired in professional orchestras have been harpists . The Vienna Philharmonic , for example, did not accept women to permanent membership until 1997, far later than comparable orchestras (the other orchestras ranked among the world’s top five by _Gramophone _ in 2008). The last major orchestra to appoint a woman to a permanent position was the Berlin Philharmonic . In February 1996, the Vienna Philharmonic's principal flute, Dieter Flury, told _ Westdeutscher Rundfunk _ that accepting women would be "gambling with the emotional unity (emotionelle Geschlossenheit) that this organism currently has". In April 1996, the orchestra’s press secretary wrote that "compensating for the expected leaves of absence" of maternity leave would be a problem.
In 1997, the
Vienna Philharmonic was "facing protests during a tour"
National Organization for Women and the International Alliance
for Women in
In 2013, an article in _Mother Jones_ stated that while "any
prestigious orchestras have significant female membership—women
outnumber men in the
New York Philharmonic 's violin section—and
several renowned ensembles, including the National
There are also a variety of amateur orchestras:
* School orchestras: These orchestras consist of students from an
elementary or secondary school. They may be students from a music
class or program or they may be drawn from the entire school body.
School orchestras are typically led by a music teacher .
* University or conservatory orchestras: These orchestras consist of
students from a university or music conservatory. In some cases,
university orchestras are open to all students from a university, from
all programs. Larger universities may have two or more university
orchestras: one or more orchestras made up of music majors (or, for
major music programs, several tiers of music major orchestras, ranked
by skill level) and a second orchestra open to university students
from all academic programs (e.g., science, business, etc.) who have
previous classical music experience on an orchestral instrument.
University and conservatory orchestras are led by a conductor who is
typically a professor or instructor at the university or conservatory.
* Youth orchestras : These orchestras consist of teens and young
adults drawn from an entire city or region. The age range in youth
orchestras varies between different ensembles. In some cases, youth
orchestras may consist of teens or young adults from an entire country
(e.g., Canada's National Youth Orchestra).
* Community orchestras: These orchestras consist of amateur
performers drawn from an entire city or region. Community orchestras
typically consist mainly of adult amateur musicians. Community
orchestras range in level from beginner-level orchestras which
rehearse music without doing formal performances in front of an
audience to intermediate-level ensembles to advanced amateur groups,
such as the Ottawa
REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCES
Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire ranging from 17th-century
dance suites , 18th century divertimentos to 20th century film scores
and 21st-century symphonies. Orchestras have become synonymous with
the symphony , an extended musical composition in Western classical
music that typically contains multiple movements which provide
contrasting keys and tempos.
Symphonies are notated in a musical score
, which contains all the instrument parts. The conductor uses the
score to study the symphony before rehearsals and decide on their
interpretation (e.g., tempos, articulation, phrasing, etc.), and to
follow the music during rehearsals and concerts, while leading the
ensemble. Orchestral musicians play from parts containing just the
notated music for their instrument. A small number of symphonies also
contain vocal parts (e.g.,
Orchestras also perform overtures , a term originally applied to the
instrumental introduction to an opera. During the early Romantic era,
composers such as
Orchestras also play with instrumental soloists in concertos . During concertos, the orchestra plays an accompaniment role to the soloist (e.g., a solo violinist or pianist) and, at times, introduces musical themes or interludes while the soloist is not playing. Orchestras also play during operas , ballets , some musical theatre works and some choral works (both sacred works such as Masses and secular works). In operas and ballets, the orchestra accompanies the singers and dancers, respectively, and plays overtures and interludes where the melodies played by the orchestra take centre stage.
In the Baroque era, orchestras performed in a range of venues,
including at the fine houses of aristocrats, in opera halls and in
churches. Some wealthy aristocrats had an orchestra in residence at
their estate, to entertain them and their guests with performances.
During the Classical era, as composers increasing sought out financial
support from the general public, orchestra concerts were increasingly
held in public concert halls, where music lovers could buy tickets to
hear the orchestra. Of course, aristocratic patronage of orchestras
continued during the Classical era, but this went on alongside public
concerts. In the 20th and 21st century, orchestras found a new patron:
governments. Many orchestras in North America and Europe receive part
of their funding from national, regional level governments (e.g.,
state governments in the U.S.) or city governments. These government
subsidies make up part of orchestra revenue, along with ticket sales,
charitable donations (if the orchestra is a registered as a charity)
and other fundraising activities. With the invention of successive
technologies, including sound recording , radio broadcasting ,
television broadcasting and
ISSUES IN PERFORMANCE
Main article: Faking (Western classical music)
One of the "great unmentionable of orchestral playing" is "faking", the process by which an orchestral musician gives the "...impression of playing every note as written", typically for a very challenging passage that is very high or very fast, while not actually playing the notes that are in the printed music part. An article in _ The Strad _ states that all orchestral musicians, even those in the top orchestras, occasionally "fake" certain passages. One reason that musicians "fake" is because there are not enough rehearsals. Another factor is the extreme challenges in 20th century and 21st century contemporary pieces; professionals interviewed by the magazine said "faking" was "...necessary in anything from ten to almost ninety per cent of some modern works. Professional players who were interviewed were of a consensus that faking may be acceptable when a part is not written well for the instrument, but faking "just because you haven’t practised" the music is not acceptable.
The invention of the piston and rotary valve by
Heinrich Stölzel and
Friedrich Blühmel , both
Silesians , in 1815, was the first in a
series of innovations which impacted the orchestra, including the
development of modern keywork for the flute by
Theobald Boehm and the
The next major expansion of symphonic practice came from Richard
20TH CENTURY ORCHESTRA
As the early 20th century dawned, symphony orchestras were larger,
better funded, and better trained than ever before; consequently,
composers could compose larger and more ambitious works. The influence
With the advent of the early music movement, smaller orchestras where
players worked on execution of works in styles derived from the study
of older treatises on playing became common. These include the
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment , the London Classical Players
under the direction of Sir
Roger Norrington and the Academy of Ancient
RECENT TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES
In the United States, the late 20th century saw a crisis of funding and support for orchestras. The size and cost of a symphony orchestra, compared to the size of the base of supporters, became an issue that struck at the core of the institution. Few orchestras could fill auditoriums, and the time-honored season-subscription system became increasingly anachronistic, as more and more listeners would buy tickets on an ad hoc basis for individual events. Orchestral endowments and—more centrally to the daily operation of American orchestras—orchestral donors have seen investment portfolios shrink or produce lower yields, reducing the ability of donors to contribute; further, there has been a trend toward donors finding other social causes more compelling. Also, while government funding is less central to American than European orchestras, cuts in such funding are still significant for American ensembles. Finally, the drastic falling-off of revenues from recording, tied to no small extent to changes in the recording industry itself, began a period of change that has yet to reach its conclusion.
U.S. orchestras that have gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy include the
One source of financial difficulties that received notice and
criticism was high salaries for music directors of US orchestras,
which led several high-profile conductors to take pay cuts in recent
It is not uncommon for contemporary composers to use unconventional
instruments, including various synthesizers, to achieve desired
effects. Many, however, find more conventional orchestral
configuration to provide better possibilities for color and depth.
Composers like John Adams often employ Romantic-size orchestras, as in
Adams' opera _Nixon in China _;
Philip Glass and others may be more
free, yet still identify size-boundaries. Glass in particular has
recently turned to conventional orchestras in works like the _Concerto
Along with a decrease in funding, some U.S. orchestras have reduced their overall personnel, as well as the number of players appearing in performances. The reduced numbers in performance are usually confined to the string section , since the numbers here have traditionally been flexible (as multiple players typically play from the same part).
ROLE OF CONDUCTOR
The conductor typically stands on a raised podium with a large music
stand for the full score , which contains the musical notation for all
the instruments and/or voices. Since the mid-18th century, most
conductors have not played an instrument when conducting, although in
earlier periods of classical music history, leading an ensemble while
playing an instrument was common. In
Baroque music from the 1600s to
the 1750s, the group would typically be led by the harpsichordist or
first violinist (see concertmaster ), an approach that in modern times
has been revived by several music directors for music from this
Conductors act as guides to the orchestras and/or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores , to which they may make certain adjustments (e.g., regarding tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections, and so on), work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers. They may also attend to organizational matters, such as scheduling rehearsals, planning a concert season, hearing auditions and selecting members, and promoting their ensemble in the media. Orchestras, choirs , concert bands and other sizable musical ensembles such as big bands are usually led by conductors.
Main article: Conductorless orchestra
In the Baroque music era (1600-1750), most orchestras were led by one of the musicians, typically the principal first violin, called the concertmaster . The concertmaster would lead the tempo of pieces by lifting his or her bow in a rhythmic manner. Leadership might also be provided by one of the chord-playing instrumentalists playing the basso continuo part which was the core of most Baroque instrumental ensemble pieces. Typically, this would be a harpsichord player, a pipe organist or a luteist or theorbo player. A keyboard player could lead the ensemble with his or her head, or by taking one of the hands off the keyboard to lead a more difficult tempo change. A lutenist or theorbo player could lead by lifting the instrument neck up and down to indicate the tempo of a piece, or to lead a ritard during a cadence or ending. In some works which combined choirs and instrumental ensembles, two leaders were sometimes used: a concertmaster to lead the instrumentalists and a chord-playing performer to lead the singers. During the Classical music period (ca. 1720-1800), the practice of using chordal instruments to play basso continuo was gradually phased out, and it disappeared completely by 1800. Instead, ensembles began to use conductors to lead the orchestra's tempos and playing style, while the concertmaster played an additional leadership role for the musicians, especially the string players, who imitate the bowstroke and playing style of the concertmaster, to the degree that is feasible for the different stringed instruments.
In 1922, the idea of a conductor-less orchestra was revived in
In Western nations, some ensembles, such as the Orpheus Chamber
* Classical music portal
NOTES AND REFERENCES
* ^ ὀρχήστρα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, _A
Greek-English Lexicon_, on Perseus
* ^ Michael Kennedy & Joyce Bourne Kennedy (2007). "Conducting".
_Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music_ (Fifth ed.). Oxford University
Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780199203833 . CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter
* ^ Jack Westrup, "Instrumentation and Orchestration: 3. 1750 to
1800", New Grove Dictionary of
* Raynor, Henry (1978). _The Orchestra: A History_. Scribner . ISBN 0-684-15535-4 . * Sptizer, John, and Neil Zaslaw (2004). _The Birth of the Orchestra: History of an Institution, 1650–1815_. Oxford University Press . ISBN 0-19-816434-3 .
_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to ORCHESTRAS _.
* The Orchestra: A User\'s Manual—A fairly concise