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How the Orchestra Grew

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How the Orchestra Grew The grouping together of instruments of various kinds to form an orchestra first came about in the early 1600's. The first orchestras were haphazard collections of bowed and plucked strings and various types of wind instrument together with a keyboard instrument such as the harpsichord. Often, a composer would include whatever musicians were available to him at the time, and so the number of players and types of instruments would vary considerably from one composition to another. Late 17th to mid 18th century Strings mainly used, but flute, recorders, oboes, bassoon, perhaps horns and occasionally trumpets and kettledrums were used to accompaniment the strings. A constant feature used in this time was the harpsichord continuo - the player 'continuing' throughout the music to fill out the harmonies and to hold the ensemble together. Mid 19th century Towards the end of the 18th century, the woodwind section was invented. ...read more.


Key Words and Terms Accompaniment: A vocal or instrumental part that supports the primary part or provides background for a vocalist. Allegretto: Meaning moderately fast, slower than allegro. Anacrusis: The weak beat, with which the phrase may begin. Binary Form: A two-part song form consisting of an initial section, which is then followed by a contrasting section. Continuo: A bass line that repeats throughout an entire piece of music, or a section of the piece. Played by the lowest instrument, a continuo usually consists of a bass line and a series of figures. Diminished Seventh: A chord which contains the most fundamental note of a chord, often the bass note, a minor third, a diminished fifth and a diminished seventh. Disco: A type of dance music made popular in the discotheques of the 1970s, characterised by the relentless heavy accents on the strong beats. Dominant Key: The fifth scale tone above the tonic, or the triad built on that tone. Drone: A long held background note (similar to pedal) ...read more.


Rhythm is the beats in a piece of music. TIMBRE - describes the characteristic sound of an instrument. Timbre is the sound of the instruments. FORM - The word form is used to describe how a piece of music is built up, a basic plan or design which a composer may use to shape a piece of music. TEXTURE - Some pieces of music present a dense sound: rich and smoothly flowing where other pieces may have a thinner sound: sparser sound where the music produces a spiky/jagged effect. If there is a thick texture many instruments may be used, where as if there is a thinner texture only one or two instruments may be used. - Monophonic texture: a single melodic line entirely without supporting harmonies of any kind. One instrument. - Polyphonic texture: two or more melodic lines weaving along at the same time. Two or more instruments. - Homophonic texture: a single melody line heard against a chordal accompaniment. Sounds like a hymn. ...read more.

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