We know that there are orchestras, such as salsa orchestras, symphony orchestras, philharmonic orchestras, chamber orchestras, string orchestras, popular orchestras, symphonic bands, and so on. On this occasion, I will talk again about the symphony orchestra, yes, that orchestra is generally composed of musicians who dress in “tails”, are very serious, and play “music with violins.”
Well, if we put a magnifying glass, or as technology lovers would say, zoom in on the orchestra, we will find that it is made up of different sections. Here are the sections that make up a symphony orchestra:
The first section is the section of bowed strings, located right in front of the conductor and made up of approximately 24 violinists seated in two rows, followed by a group of approximately 10 violists (the viola has the same shape as the violin but is slightly larger), and then approximately 10 cellists, a beautiful instrument considered, due to its size, as the father of stringed instruments, which is much larger than the viola. All these musicians sit together forming a beautiful semi-circle. Finally, just behind the cellos, at least 6 double bass players, the largest of the bowed stringed instruments, usually stand. In total, we have approximately 50 musicians playing bowed stringed instruments, which only make up the string section of the symphony orchestra.
Let’s zoom back a bit from the violins, usually, there sits the pianist, next to him, and in the same row, we find one or two classical harp players. In some cases, these two instruments are not part of the orchestra.
Behind the violins and right next to the harps, the woodwind section is located, made up of a group of about 12 musicians distributed as follows: 4 flutists, 2 oboists, 2 bassoonists, 3 clarinetists including the player of the “bass clarinet.” They are called the woodwind section because in ancient times, around the 18th century, these instruments were made of wood. Nowadays, some of them are made of metal, such as the flutes.
Behind the woodwinds are the brass players, with approximately 12 musicians divided among 4 trumpeters, 4 trombonists, 3 horn players, and 1 tubist.
Finally, we find the percussion section, to which 1 timpani player (5 timpani in total), 1 player of the symphonic bass drum, 1 player of cymbals, 1 player of the small percussion instruments such as maracas and triangle, and 1 player of the marimba and 1 of the xylophone belong. In total, the percussion section is composed of approximately 5 musicians.
As we can see, a standard size symphony orchestra is made up of about 85 musicians, who follow the baton of the conductor and together always interpret a beautiful repertoire.
By: Omar Eduardo Beltran