Want to know more about orchestral music? Either you’ve seen one just recently and want to know more or maybe you just want to do more research for a paper you’re doing, we will give you some helpful information here.
An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble that plays classical music. It contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Sometimes a fifth group of instruments is also added, the keyboard group which includes pianos and organs. The instruments are played all at the same time, producing harmonious classical music.
A full-size orchestra, that which has 70-100 musicians, may sometimes be called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra. Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance. He also unifies the orchestra and sets the tempo of the whole piece.
How did it all start? People have been playing musical instruments together in various combinations for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until about the last 400 years when musicians started forming these instrumental combinations and turned them into the modern orchestra.
In the 1500s, the time known as the Renaissance, the word “consort” was used to mean a group of instrumentalists, and sometimes singers too, making music together or “in concert”. In 1600, the composer Claudio Monteverdi was known to have contributed to the development of the orchestra. He wanted to be exact in terms of what instruments should be played in his opera so, at that time, he instructed to have in his orchestra: fifteen viols of different sizes; two violins; four flutes, two large and two medium; two oboes, two cornetts, four trumpets, five trombones, a harp, two harpsichords, and three small organs. This idea materialized and has been a standard for quite a while.
In the next century 1700s, the orchestra developed further. The string family: violin, viola, cello, and bass, replaced the viols, and this new kind of string section became even more central to the Baroque orchestra. Although the pianos and the organs were still considered the “leader” of the orchestra.
In the 1800s, the violins were more important than ever, and the keyboard instruments had taken a back seat. Later, the orchestra reached the size and proportions we know today and even went beyond that size. New instruments at this time were also being invented such as the piccolo and the tuba, which were eventually added in orchestras, under the wind instruments group.
The 20th century has been a century of freedom and experimentation with the orchestra. It has also been a time of superstar conductors, as the conductor has more and more responsibility and visibility. This is now the modern day orchestra. It’s not very different from the orchestra of the 1500’s but today it’s more diverse with more instruments, and there’s more freedom too in terms of the whole structure of the orchestra.