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The orchestra is one of the greatest arrangements of musical instruments in the modern world. No other arrangement can create gravitas in music. No other combination of instruments can bring majesty to the table the way that an orchestra can.
An orchestra is made out of four sections - brass, woodwinds, percussion, and strings. Most marching bands leave out the string section out, but for the most part utilizes the same instruments as a full orchestra.
The violin, the cello, the bass and the viola make up the string section. They're all wooden and each instrument has four strings. They can be played by either plucking the strings or by drawing a bow across them.
The violin is the smallest instrument among them and can generate the highest pitch sound. There are more violins than there are of any other string instrument. The viola is only a little larger than the violin and brings with it a slightly mellower sound. The cello on the other hand is much larger and produces a much deeper sound. It needs to be placed on the floor to be played properly. The bass or the double bass also needs to be placed on the floor to be played properly and has the deepest sound in the string section.
The Woodwind Section
Woodwinds include the flute, the clarinet, the oboe and the bassoon. Depending on the size of the orchestra, there can be up to four of each instrument being played. Each woodwind is played by blowing into them and fingering different holes to produce a different sound. Most of these instruments are made with wood.
Flutes can be made either with wood or metal, though those used in an orchestra are usually made of metal. While it can technically be classified as a brass instrument, it is still closer to woodwinds. Flutes are blown from the side of the instrument rather than the end of the instrument and it produces a high, clear sound. The sound itself can either be piercing or extremely gentle. Bands usually use a piccolo rather than a flute.
The oboe is often black and made of wood. It resembles the clarinet and has a unique double-reed sound that is difficult to mistake for anything else. The clarinet on the other hand is also made of wood. It is an instrument that can handle a wide variety of notes. There are a wide variety of types of clarinets. The bassoon is the largest woodwind instrument and also brings with it the deepest sound.
The brass section is, predictably, made of metal. It however does not usually have to be made of brass. Brass instruments produce sound when the player buzzes their lips against the mouthpiece. The instrument just amplifies the sound that they make. Their instruments are the trumpet, the French horn, the trombone, and the tuba.
The trumpet is the smallest brass instrument and subsequently, also the highest-sounding instrument. It is cylindrical in shape, lending it a clear and well directed sound. The French horn, in comparison, is mellower and is a lot more conical. It produces a wide range of sound and is often used to fill the middle sound for the brass section. The trombone has no valves, but it still produces a brassy sound. The tuba is the largest brass instrument, but it still produces a mellow and distant sound.
Percussion instruments are all struck with either drum sticks or beaters. There are a wide variety of percussion instruments. Here are some of the more common options used in an orchestra.
Drums do not have a pitch and are usually cylindrical. Commonly used drums are the snare drum and the tenor drum, as well as the bass drum.