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Classical Music Instruments

Essay by   •  October 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,802 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,753 Views

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Woodwinds:

1. Flute: The flute is made in the form of an open cylindrical air column about 66 cm long. Its fundamental pitch is middle C (C4) and it has a range of about three octaves to C7. Sound is produced from a flute by blowing onto a sharp edge, causing air enclosed in a tube to vibrate. The modern flute was developed by Theobald Boehm who experimented with it from 1832 to 1847, desiring to give it a bigger tone. He finally produced a parabolic (bowl-shaped) head joint attached to a cylindrical body with open-standing keys and finger pads to cover large finger holes. Since then, other minor improvements have been made. The modern flute usually has a range from middle C (C4) upward for about three octaves. In Europe flutes are often constructed of wood; silver is commonly used in the United States.

2. Oboe: The oboe is a soprano-range, double-reed woodwind instrument of length 62 cm. Its wooden tube is distinguished by a conical bore expanding at the end into a flaring bell. The modern oboe's range extends from the B-flat below middle C (B3-flat) to the A nearly three octaves higher (A6). Sounding a fifth below the oboe is the English horn and the bass member of this family is the bassoon. A melodic instrument capable of very gentle, expressive passages, the instrument is yet said to take a large amount of air to play. The range of pressure between the softest and loudest sounds is rather small, so careful control of the pressure on the reed is necessary. Traditionally made from African Blackwood, also called grenadille, the instrument is made in three parts. The top joint has 10 holes, three of which are manipulated by the player's left hand. The bottom joint also has 10 holes, three of which the player uses with the right hand. The bell section has two holes, covered with keys, which are not typically used by the player. Oboes are still hand made by expert craftsmen who are very secretive about the dimensions, size of aperture, etc. used in the construction. The double reed is fashioned from cane which is grown on the east coast of Spain, which is usually dried and aged for several years. The careful fashioning of the double reed is a key part of getting a fine musical sound from the instrument.

3. Clarinet: The clarinet consists of a closed cylindrical air column with a bell-shaped opening at one end. It's mouthpiece holds a single reed, in contrast to the double reed of the oboe family. It is typically constructed of wood. The traditional wood is an ebony from Africa, Asia or South America commonly referred to as grenadilla wood. Hard and black, this wood is capable of taking a high polish. The instrument most commonly used today is known as the B-flat clarinet; the next most common is the clarinet in A. The B-flat clarinet is about 60 cm (23.6 in) long and has a range of more than three octaves.

4. Bassoon: The bassoon is a double-reed woodwind instrument with a conical bore air column, the bass member of the oboe family. Its normal range is about 3 octaves, from B1flat to E3flat. The tube, 2.79 m (9 ft 2 in) long, is bent to make a height of 1.22 m (4 ft) and consists of a metal crook on which the reed is placed and four sections of maple or pearwood: the tenor, the butt, the bass, and the bell. The characteristic sound of a bassoon is influenced by a strong formant, as illustrated by the accompanying waveforms. Each of the notes displayed has a peak of intensity in the neighborhood of 500 Hz.

Strings:

1. Violin: The violin is by far the most common orchestral instrument. It is also the smallest out of all the strings and has the highest pitch. This is usually the first choice of musicians who want to learn a string instrument.

2. Viola: The viola is slightly larger than the violin and has a deeper pitch in comparision. It is also in the "middle register" of the string family. Although not as popular as the violin, it is still a vital part of the orchestra.

3. Cello: The cello is still bigger than the violin and viola. It has a beautiful, mellow sound. The cello must rest on the floor because it is too big to be held like the violin or viola.

4. Double Bass: largest and lowest-pitched member of the violin family. Also known as the contrabass, the double bass is usually about 1.8 m (about 6 ft) high and has four strings tuned to sound EE AA D G (EE = third E below middle C; G = second G below middle C) and notated an octave higher. A low fifth string is sometimes added, tuned to the C below the E string. On some instruments the E string is extended at the head and fitted with a mechanism that clamps off the extra length; releasing the mechanism allows the string to sound the low notes down to C.

Brass:

1. French Horn: developed about 1650 in France and is a large version of the smaller crescent-shaped horns that had been redesigned with circularly coiled tubing. The French hunting horn, which entered the orchestra in the early 1700s, produced about twelve tones of the natural harmonic series. The horn gained greater flexibility about 1750 with the invention of the technique of hand-stopping. Hand-stopping involves placing a hand in the bell of the horn to alter the pitch of the natural notes by as much as a whole tone. Despite this advance, cumbersome lengths of tubing, called crooks, were necessary for playing in many keys. The invention of valves in the early 19th century revolutionized the horn, allowing the

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