What is the Difference Between Band & Orchestra?

An orchestra made up of about 50 musicians or fewer is called a “chamber orchestra.” A “symphony orchestra” or “philharmonic orchestra” can be composed of approximately 100 musicians. An orchestra is composed of percussion, string, woodwind and brass instrumentalists. It is usually directed by a conductor. A band generally plays pop, rock or jazz music with a larger variety of instruments. The word “orchestra” has Latin and Greek origins, and the original definition was a specific area in a theater. The word “band” comes from Middle French originally and meant “organized group.

What are the different parts of the orchestra?

An orchestra’s string section is comprised of five instruments: first and second violin, viola, cello and bass (also called a “double bass”). Harps are sometimes included as well. The woodwind instruments include piccolo, flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons. The brass section can include horns, trumpets, tubas, trombones and saxophones. Percussion sections include tympani, snare and bass drums, cymbals, triangles, Glockenspiels, xylophones and tambourines. Pianos often appear with symphonies, as do harpsichords, though more rarely.

What are the 5 groups of instruments in an orchestra?

The strings family of an orchestra includes instruments such as the violin, the viola, the cello and the bass. It also includes harps and guitars. Performers play string instruments with bows or by plucking strings using their fingers.

The brass family consists of the trumpet, the cornet, the French horn, the baritone and the trombone. It also includes the tuba and the sousaphone. The brass group’s instruments are aerophones, which means they produce sound when air vibrates through their tubes. Musicians play them using valves or slides to lengthen or shorten the tube length and change notes.

The woodwind family contains the flute, the clarinet, the oboe, the saxophone and the English horn. The bassoon, the recorder, the bass clarinet and the piccolo are also included in the woodwind family. A woodwind instrument produces sound when the player blows into the mouthpiece or reed.

The percussion family includes idiophones, instruments that make sounds when struck with a mallet or stick. Percussion instruments include the drums, the cymbals, the timpani, bongos and maracas.

What are the different parts and instruments of the band?


Woodwind Section

The woodwind section consists of piccolos, flutes, clarinets, oboes, saxophones, and bassoons. Each one of these instruments creates their own unique timbre. In a wind ensemble or symphonic band, these instruments typically take on the melody or play the more virtuosic background parts since there are typically no string instruments.

Woodwind instruments have the capability of playing softer than any other instrument, but their dynamic range is not as wide as a brass instrument. Because of this, the composer must take care to orchestrate the woodwind section in a way that allows for the individual section colors to come through. A composer wouldn’t want to bury the flutes and clarinets in a sea of trumpets. One way around this is to have one section play the melody, while another section takes on the harmony parts.

Brass Section

The brass section is the most powerful section of the wind ensemble and symphonic band. The brass section contains a collections of trumpets (sometimes cornets), trombones, euphoniums, French horns, and tubas. While there is generally a similar orchestration to what you might find in an orchestra, a wind ensemble or symphonic band has many more players.

It’s not uncommon to find six or more trumpet players, four French horns, three trombones, two euphoniums, and two tuba players in a wind ensemble. Symphonic bands have additional members as well. The wind ensemble is all about color, while the symphonic band focuses on sheer power. Because of this, the wind ensemble and less frequently, the symphonic band, brings in less common instruments like the flugal horn to play solo parts. Composers must blend the brass section equally with the woodwind section to get a full, robust, and balanced sound.

Percussion Section

The percussion section in a wind ensemble or symphonic band is typically very large compared to an orchestra. Often, the wind ensemble and symphonic band will have four timpani, huge bass drums, xylophones, vibraphones, marimbas, and various artillery drums to counteract the massive symphonic forces. When writing for the percussion section, composers can be somewhat flexible in the notation.

There are many experimental percussion instruments in the percussion section that don’t have a standard method of notation. Because of this, composers are encouraged to use traditional percussion notation techniques and when in doubt, write in the part specifically how they want the percussionist to play a particular section.



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