Brass Instruments in the Orchestra

orchestra in concert hall

Brass instruments in the orchestra traditionally fall into the four categories of horns, trumpets, trombones and tubas.

A typical combination of such instruments in a full symphony orchestra is four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and one tuba. However, the exact numbers in a given orchestra has been known to vary considerably according to historical period, geographical location and composer preference.

As their name suggests, brass instruments are unsurprisingly made of brass. They essentially resemble very long pipes that widen into a bell-like shape at their ends. The pipes are curved and twisted in many different ways, to enable them to be held and played more easily.

So, whether you are interested in a trombone, French horn or tuba, what do you need to know about the brass instruments in the orchestra to make the most informed buying choices?

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Ultimate Guide: What is a Concert Band?

concert band

A concert band is broadly definable as a relatively large group of brass, woodwind and percussion players who perform in a concert hall. The latter fact distinguishes a concert band from a marching band, and nor is a concert band the same as a symphony orchestra, given its lack of string sections.

Potentially maximising the confusion is the fact that a concert band can be referred to by many other terms. These range from ‘wind ensemble’, ‘wind symphony’, ‘symphonic band’ and ‘wind orchestra’ to ‘wind band’, ‘symphonic wind ensemble’, ‘symphony band’ and ‘symphonic winds’.

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Ultimate Guide: What is a Brass Band?

brass band in london

What is a brass band? Well, in essence, it is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a collection of players of brass instruments who perform pieces of music with their brass instruments. However, the history and complexity of the brass band may surprise you.

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Ultimate Guide: What is an Orchestra?

orchestra performing on stage

The term ‘orchestra’ means many things to many people, so it is probably most instructive to look first at the dictionary definition.

Dictionary.com, for example, provides various answers to the question “what is an orchestra?”, with the first being “a group of performers on various musical instruments, including especially stringed instruments of the viol class, clarinets and flutes, cornets and trombones, drums, and cymbals, for playing music, as symphonies, operas, popular music, or other compositions.”

However, the same site also posits that in a modern theatre, the term ‘orchestra’ may refer to the space reserved for musicians, usually the front part of the main floor. It adds that in the ancient Greek theatre, the orchestra was the circular space in front of the stage, allotted to the chorus.

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Ultimate Guide: What is a Wind Orchestra or Ensemble?

wind band performing

If you are a music lover, chances are you will have heard some form of orchestral music, be that at the theatre, at live music events, or even on TV and film soundtracks. But what is an orchestra? Well, put simply, an orchestra is a group of musicians who play a range of instruments together to create live music. They differ from a marching band in that they are designed for concerts and seated performances. (more…)