A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music

By John Erskine | Go to book overview
Save to active project

THE ORCHESTRA AS INSTRUMENT

CHAPTER I
ARRANGEMENT OF INSTRUMENTS IN A FULL SCORE

IT HAS LONG BEEN the practice of composers to write the string parts almost invariably at the foot of the score, for, since the time when the violin family superseded the viols, these instruments have been rightly regarded as the foundation tone of the whole orchestra, to which all else is subservient and purely incidental, however importantly so. It is only natural, therefore, to find the more delicate wood-wind instruments at the top of the score, ranged downwards more or less in order of their pitch--the piccolo is the exception--and resting on their own foundation of bassoons and, less frequently, of double- bassoon. Since the wood-wind are entrusted with so much music of the solo kind, such, for example, as a flute, oboe, or clarinet melody against a string accompaniment, it seems but poetic justice that composers should have accorded this group an outstanding position in the score. Besides which, this arrangement enables the conductor better to see at a glance where often the main melodic interest in the music lies. For the same reason the horns, though not so high- pitched as the trumpets, are usually placed at the head of the brass group. Wagner, however, was a notable exception in this respect, preferring to sandwich the horns between clarinets and bassoons because of their accommodating tone-quality. This quality, which, briefly, we can call "round and mellow," permits this instrument to blend as successfully with the wood-wind as with the other members of the brass; in fact with slightly more success, for this very roundness of tone does not always match the open martial ring of trumpets and trombones, yet, in the hands of a skilful orchestrator, can never be said to conflict with the quality of either clarinet or

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 556

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?