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The String Family

When marking bowings, less is more. The example to the right is an extreme example. For your final project, you will rely primarily on slur marks to indicate phrasing and only use upbow and downbow markings for musical emphasis. String instruments control their pitch by shortening the length of the string.  By holding a...

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The Saxophones

The saxophone family is a recent addition to the woodwinds. Modern traditionalists may even omit them from their orchestrations. In church music, the alto sax often doubles the french horn while the tenor sax doubles the euphonium or  trombone. The Bari Sax doubles the tuba. The soprano saxophone is rarely included in church orchestrations....

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The Bassoon

The Bassoon, like the oboe is a double reed. It has a unique characteristic sound that blends with many instruments. It works especially with cello due to it's similar color and can bring out the "grainy" sound out of the cello timbre. It's dynamic spectrum is not as pronounced as the oboe, but it...

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The Clarinet

The clarinet has a unique dynamic spectrum in that its middle register is softer than both the lower and upper register. It has a wide range, with solo repertoire extending an octave above the printed range above. The lower register is very dark, and is effectively used in mysterious passages. The brightness of the...

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The Oboe

The oboe has a characteristic sound that can often sing through an orchestra, due to it's unique timbre. Unlike the flute, the lower notes are louder, and it loses volume as it ascends. It's highest notes are very thin in quality and will not cut through an orchestra. Compared to the other woodwinds, the...

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The Flute

The Flute has the purest tone of all the woodwinds, nearly a sine wave. It is very agile and often plays rapid scales and trills with great ease. The lower register is characterized by a dark sound and cannot project through a thick orchestration. Tones below the notated D will likely be lost within...

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The Contrabass

The Double Bass is the first transposing instrument encountered in a traditional orchestration class. Printed notes sound an octave lower. The double bass can play incredibly low - near the bottom of our hearing range. Although E is listed as the bottom range, some basses have a C extension that allows them to descend...

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The Cello

The cello is tuned an octave lower than the viola. While it is not uncommon for the cello to play in both the alto clef and even the treble clef, I suggest for ensemble passages to stay within the practical range. The cello is known is used for its rich tone quality and has...

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The Viola

The viola is a versatile instrument which can serve as a "3rd violin", bridge the voicing between the violin and cello, or double the cello line or second violin for greater reinforcement. The tone quality of the viola is slightly darker and has almost a muted quality to it compared to the violin. Its...

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The Violin

The Violin is the highest string instrument used in the modern orchestra. Typically, violins are divided into two sections - first violins and second violins. As with all string instruments, it has a wide range, capable of playing well-above the practical range indicated through the use of harmonics. The lowest two strings have a...

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