Musical Instruments Families and Properties
Around the world, thousands of different instruments are used They vary greatly in construction and tone color
Definition • A musical instrument is any mechanism (other than the voice) that produces musical sounds.
String • Guitar/Violin • Woodwind • Flute/Clarinet • Brass • Trumpet/Tuba • Percussion • Cymbal/Snare • Keyboard • Piano/Organ • Electronic • Synthesizer Classifications Western musicians usually classify instruments into 6 broad categories.
Many instruments are made in different sizes in order to produce different ranges For instance, the saxophone family includes a soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone
Instrument vs. Voice • Instrumental performer are constantly trying to match the beautiful and flexible tone of the voice. • Most instruments have a much wider range than the voice • The well trained singer commands around 2 octaves • Most instruments command 3-4 and some 6-7
Instrument vs. Voice • Most instruments produce tone more rapidly than the voice. Therefor they are capable of more flexible and rapid musical passages.
Every instrument has specific abilities and limitations such as range, dynamic capability, and how fast it produces tone. • Because of this, composers must tailor the music they write to fit the instrument and its capabilities.
Uses for Instruments • They provide entertainment • Accompany dancing, singing, religious rites, etc. • In many cultures, instruments are thought to have “Magical Powers” • Bells are worn to guard against harm • Rattles are used by healers and shaman • In parts of Africa, drums accompany every religious event. Some tribes make animal sacrifices during the making of a drum in order to bless it.
Instruments for Communication • Messages through drum beats • Hunters use signal horns • Time was announced by sounding brass instruments from towers • Trumpets have been used in the military as signals as moral busters
Instruments as Status Symbols • Royal courts have often hired and funded their own musicians, even their own personal orchestras! • In the 1800’s and early 1900’s every middle and upper-class home had a piano • Every “proper” young women was expected to play
Instruments as Status Symbols • Can you think of some modern instruments or something similar is seen as a status symbal?
Strings • The most common string instruments in classical music are the Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass. • Other instruments in the family include the Harp and Guitar
Strings • The string family, especially the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, possesses the ability to control tone color almost as subtly as a singer. • Orchestral works tend to rely on the string section more than any other.
Strings The strings are bowed or plucked The resulting vibration is transferred to the body of the instrument The sound is transmitted out the “F” holes and to the listener
Violin The smallest and highest of the family Often used as a solo instrument The violin section of the orchestra often carries the main melodies
Viola About 2 inches longer than the violin Thus its range is a little lower Its color is darker and thicker than the violin
Violoncello (Cello) The tenor voice of the string family Rich and mellow tone
Double Bass (Bass) The lowest voice in the family Thick and heavy tone Not as agile as the other string instruments Generally bowed in classical music and plucked in jazz and pop
Harp 47 strings stretched on a triangular frame Wide 6 octave range The player plucks the strings with both hands
Guitar 6 strings that are plucked with the fingers or strummed with a pick The neck has frets that mark where the fingers must be placed for certain notes Used in a very wide variety of musical genres http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=359Bxg4Tp1w
Woodwinds • Are so named because they produce vibrations of air within a tube that traditionally was made of wood. • During the 20th century flutes and piccolos became made of metal
Woodwinds • All woodwinds have holes along their length. • These wholes are opened or closed by the fingers or by pads controlled by a key mechanism • By opening/closing these holes the player alters the length of the vibrating air column, thus raising or lowering the pitch
Woodwind Families The main woodwind instruments of the symphony orchestra can be arranged into 4 categories. *These are arranged from highest to lowest and only include the 2 most common instruments in the family
Woodwinds • Woodwinds are individualistic • There is much less similarity in tone color between types as is in the string family • The difference in timbre between the flute and oboe is far greater than the difference between the violin and the viola • *The primary reason for this uniqueness of tone color is due to the various ways in which each instruments produces vibration
Piccolo Short for Flauto Piccolo (small flute) Is ½ the size of the flute and therefor an octave higher Shrill and whistlelike
Flute Has a high range and is extremely agile Velvety tone in the low register Bright and sparkling in the upper
Flute/Piccolo • Both utilize a column of air that is created by blowing air across a hole in the top of the neck joint • Much like blowing air across the lid of a jug or bottle
Clarinet The clarinet produces tones very rapidly and is capable of a wide range of dynamics and tone colors
Bass Clarinet Similar to the clarinet but longer, resulting in a lower tone
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet • Both use a reed (small sliver of wood) to trigger the vibration that carries sound through the instrument
Oboe The oboe has a nasal, intense, expressive tone Its tone is so unique and piercing that only one is needed to carry through the entire orchestra Its pitch is hard to alter so the entire orchestra tunes to its “A” 440
English Horn Is not English Is not a horn Rather, it is simply a low, or alto, oboe.
Bassoon Uses the double reed like the oboe and English horn Deep and nasal tone
Contrabassoon Produces the lowest note in the orchestra!
Brass • From high to low, the main instruments of the symphony orchestra’s brass section are the Trumpet, French Horn (or simply Horn), Trombone, and Tuba.
Brass • The vibrations of a brass instrument are triggered by the lips of the musician as they buzz in a cup or funnel shaped mouthpiece • The vibrations are amplified within the coiled brass tubing and are projected out of the bell.
Brass • While modern instruments are made of brass, their earlier counterparts were made of animal horn, elephant tusk, wood, and even glass.
Trumpet The highest member of the brass family Its bright and powerful tone make it perfect for adding drama to a piece
French Horn The Horn has a rich and mellow tone It is often used to depict hunting scenes or triumph
Trombone Unlike the other brass instruments, the trombone uses a slide instead of keys to adjust pitch The tenor voice of the family Commonly used in classic and jazz music
Tuba The largest and lowest of the family It, along with the double basses provides the tonal foundation of the symphony
Keyboard • Keyboard instruments are all played using a series of keys that are depressed by the player’s fingers (and in some cases feet)
Keyboard • The 3 most common keyboard instruments are the piano, harpsichord, and organ • The use of a keyboard allows the player to play many notes at once and at very rapid paces. • The keyboard instruments can play both melodic and harmonic material simultaneously
Piano The piano is the most prominent of the family More solo music has been written for the piano in the last 2 centuries than any other instrument.
Piano • The piano was invented in 1700 but didn’t come into widespread use until the 1780’s. • The piano is extremely versatile! • Its 88 keys provide it with over 7 octaves of range.