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Music Appreciation

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The musicians are divided into four main groups called sections: (1) the

string section, (2) the woodwind section, (3) the brass section, (4) and the

percussion section. The various instruments in the string, woodwind, and

brass section are pitched in different ranges, like voices in a choir. In the

following discussion, the instruments in each of these sections are listed in the

order from those of the highest range to those of the lowest. Some percussion

instruments are also tuned to definite pitches, but most of them have an

indefinite pitch.

The string section is the heart of a symphony orchestra. It has more

than half of the musicians and consists of from 20 to 32 violins, 8 to 10

violas, 8 to 10 cellos, and 6 to 10 string basses. The violinists are divided

into two groups of equal size. The first violins play the highest-pitched part

in the string section, and the second violin play the next highest. The leading

first violinist serves as concertmaster of the orchestra. the concertmaster

directs the other musicians in tuning their instruments and may also be the

orchestra's assistant conductor.

The woodwind section consists chiefly of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and

bassoons. An orchestra has from 2 to 4 of each of these instruments. The

musicians in this section also play various other woodwind instruments when

a score requires them to do so.

The brass section consists of 2 to 5 trumpets, 2 to 8 French horns, 2 to

4 trombones, and 1 tuba.

The percussion section includes two or more timpani, or kettle drums,;

bells and cymbals; wood blocks; and bass drum, gong, snare drum, triangle,

tambourine and xylophone.

The conductor knows that each of these sections are crucial to the

sound necessary for the score, therefore, he or she designs the seating

arrangement to produce a certain blend of sounds. The basic seating

arrangements are as follows: the strings form a semicircle around the

conductor; the woodwind instruments are arranged in the center, with the

percussion and brass sections at the rear.

The musicians have many responsibilities. Some of these

responsibilities are to be prepared to work hard to achieve the perfection that

the conductor needs to make the score sound right, be prepared and on time

to all rehearsals, to behave appropriately at a concert and rehearsals to insure

that the conductor has their total attention and the musicians are focused, and,

ultimately, listen to the conductor's instructions. They must remember that

the conductor is the person in charge, and, although they may not always

agree with the way that he or she feels about the music, they are to play their

hearts out , but to play as the conductor has designated them to. They must

keep up with the music to make sure that the music flows and that the

harmony does not get mixed up with the melody and to insure that the music

will be played as intended or as instructed by the conductor.

The conductor directs the musicians by keeping time with the baton or

with his or her hands, and by means of gestures and facial expression.

However, the conductor do their



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