Orchestral performances have always been judged based on the harmony and melody of the instruments used. Orchestra is a group of organized musicians who majorly perform instrumental music based on stringed instruments. Orchestral instruments are classified into three major divisions: strings, brass and woodwinds, and percussion (Jaatinen et al.). This paper argues that although these instruments have unique characteristics that differentiate them, they are designed to work harmoniously to produce sounds that complement one another. The absence of one family affects the quality of sound produced by the rest of the families.
Firstly, the string family produces vibrant and eloquent sound through vibrations made by the strings when they are plucked with the finger. The string instruments form the largest group of the orchestra instruments. They are often considered the most vital orchestra instruments because they carry the melodic line (Jaatinen et al.). Most of the string instruments are designed with hollow bodies to allow sound vibration when the strings are plucked. Apart from plucking, the strings also make sound by drawing a bow across them. The orchestral string family consists of four major instruments. They include the violin, viola, cello and double bass. The smallest is the violin which is meant to produce a high-pitched sound. The largest is the double brass which is designed to produce low-pitched sounds. Therefore, the string family forms the heart of the orchestra instruments.
Secondly, the brass and the woodwinds family are designed to produce the tone and mood of the music. This group consists of instruments made of brass and wood, although some of the modern instruments are made of other materials (Gulhayo). The brass and wood instruments in this family produce the loudest and highest sounds in the orchestra. The brass instruments produce sound by blowing air into the hollow pipes to create sound. During the blowing of the pipe, the lips of the player vibrate. The brass instruments have a mouthpiece that amplifies the buzzing of the lips to create sounds. The woodwind instruments work with the same mechanism as the brass instruments. They have a mouthpiece with a thin piece of wood referred to as the reed, which vibrates when air is blown into the device. The type of sound produced by the woodwind instrument depends on the size of the instrument (Gulhayo). The smaller the instrument, the higher the pitch made, while the larger the device, the lower the sound. Therefore, the brass and woodwinds family give strength and volume to the sound produced by the orchestra.
Lastly, the percussive family produces the rhythm and excitement of the sound produced by the orchestra. This family may consist of up to forty-three instruments that produce different sounds (Rucz et al.). The instruments in this family are categorized into two major classes: tuned percussion and untuned percussion instruments. The tuned percussion class consists of instruments that produce pitch, such as the xylophone, while the untuned percussion consists of instruments that do not have a definite pitch, such as the bass drum. Other tools in the percussion family include timpani, cymbals, triangle, and the snare drum. Most of these instruments produce sound through hitting or striking. The percussionist is often required to play several instruments at once to create a clear rhythm (Rucz et al.). With the mighty power of its instruments, the percussion family completes the orchestra by adding stability and rhythm to the sound produced by the other families.
In conclusion, the orchestra’s performance depends on the diversity of the sounds produced by the different instruments. The families of these instruments work harmoniously to produce a significant effect on the final music being performed. The sound produced by the various families complements each other. For instance, the string forms the heart of the orchestra by making eloquent and vibrant sounds; the brass and woodwinds produce the tone and mood of the music, while the percussion family produces the rhythm of the music.
Gulhayo, Radjiyeva. “Getting Acquainted with Musical Instruments in Music Lessons.” Emergent: Journal of Educational Discoveries and Lifelong Learning (EJEDL) 2.06 (2021): 95-98.
Jaatinen, Jussi, Jukka Pätynen, and Tapio Lokki. “Uncertainty in Tuning Evaluation with Low-Register Complex Tones of Orchestra Instruments.” Acta Acustica 5 (2021): 49.
Rucz, Péter, et al. “Simulation of Mallet Percussion Instruments by a Coupled Modal Vibroacoustic Finite Element Model.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 149.5 (2021): 3200-3212.