Timbre Instruments of the Orchestra
The Instruments • There are four groups of instruments: • A) Strings • B) Woodwinds • C) Brass • D) Percussion
Strings • String instruments in the orchestra: Violins, Violas, Cellos, Double basses • All are made of wood but the sizes are different. • Nylon or steel strings are stretched over them. • Stringed instruments are played by using a bow or plucking/strumming the strings with the fingers.
The Violin and Viola • The violin is the smallest member of the string family. • Because its strings are the shortest, it produces the highest sound. • The viola is a harmony instrument and is not often heard by itself. • Because it is bigger than the violin, with longer strings, it makes a sound that is lower in pitch.
Cello • The cello plays an octave lower than the viola. • To support its longer strings, it's more than twice as big as the viola. • To play, cellists sit down and rest the instrument upright against their bodies. • They use an endpin to keep it in place.
Double Bass • The double bass is the largest of all the stringed instruments, and play the lowest notes. • At six feet or even more, it's often taller than the person who plays it. • Some double bassists sit on a high stool to play. • http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs3yHJO_nT0
Woodwinds • Woodwinds can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. • Except for the flute, they all use reeds to make sound. • All woodwinds are used in the orchestra except for the saxophone. • Saxes were invented later so they are only used in modern pieces.
The Flute • Flutes are usually made of metal, but sometimes you will see flutes made of wood. • The very highest-pitched instrument in the orchestra is a kind of flute, but it plays an octave higher. It's called the piccolo. • It does not have a reed.
The Clarinet • Clarinets are made of wood or molded plastic. • The standard clarinet is a little more than two feet long. • It uses a single bamboo reed to create a sound.
Bass Clarinet • A bass clarinet is shaped differently and is larger than the standard clarinet. • It plays lower notes. • It is played in the same way as the standard clarinet but has an endpin that slides out of the bottom of the instrument to help prop it up on the floor. • http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=ai3h6jxAM74
The Saxophone • The saxophone is classified as a woodwind because it is played using a reed, but looks like a brass instrument. • There are four major types of saxophones, each playing a different range of notes: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone. • http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=N47_Q33PqJ4
The Oboe • The oboe looks very similar to the clarinet, but sounds very different. • Oboes are made of wood, and their sound is produced by blowing air through a thin double reed at the upper end of the instrument.
The Bassoon • The bassoon is a double-reed woodwind instrument. • It has almost 8 feet of wooden tubing, bent into a narrow U-shape. • The reed is secured in a curved metal tube. • Bassoons are the largest woodwind instruments in the orchestra. • http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=WPV1WrVUCRs
Brass • Brass players produce sound by buzzing their lips together into the mouthpiece of the instrument. • Their lips act like the reeds of the woodwinds. • Some brass instruments in the orchestra are: Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone and Tuba.
Trumpet • To play, a trumpeter can press down on the keys that control the trumpet's three valves, and he can change the shape of his lips against the mouthpiece. • A trumpet is 18 inches long - but if it were unwound it would be 4.5 feet long! • Trumpets are at least 3,500 years old • Early versions of the trumpet have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
French Horn • The French horn is balanced on the legs. • The left hand works the valves that help to change the horn's pitch, and the right hand is held inside the bell. • The very first horns were made from the horns of animals. • These horns were used during hunts.
Trombone • Most brass instruments use valves to produce different pitches, but the trombone uses a slide instead. • The player pushes and pulls the slide back and forth to change the length of tubing - which changes the pitch.
Tuba • The tuba is the largest member of the brass family and plays the lowest notes. • It's also the youngest brass instrument. • It was first used in military bands in the 1800s and joined the orchestra about 100 years ago. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR_GVUWllP4
Percussion • The percussion family includes any instrument that produces sounds when it is struck, scraped or shaken. • Struck percussion instruments include the piano, the timpani, and the xylophone. • Scraped percussion instruments are less common in the orchestra. • Shaken percussion instruments include tambourines and rattles. • http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=TkamVRYBkfg