Do composers write music for all instruments? Do composers know how to play every instrument used in orchestral performance? Do you need to be a genius to make an orchestral composition? Can a composer make his own without playing any instrument? We all know that orchestral composition is a whole new level when it comes to music. Most of the involved persons in orchestral performances have a solid education in music, which is why we are going to take a look at how they do things in the background.
So, what is an orchestra? An orchestra is a large group of musicians performing using different kinds of instruments and is led by a conductor. Classical music is usually played in an orchestral performance. When you look at how they play together, you will really be amazed at how accurate and perfect they are in their craft. When it comes to playing music, I consider that joining an orchestra is one of the hardest things to do, if not the hardest thing to do for a musician.
Playing in an orchestra is already as difficult as it is; how much more composing a piece to be performed by an orchestra. Composing one when you have to consider a large number of instruments that simultaneously play with each other and that they have to sound great, or else there is really no point in composing the piece.
So, how do composers achieve this level of musicality? Most composers have a solid background in orchestration. It is where they have an idea where a specific instrument can only play that note, the range, and its main purpose why it is used in the orchestra. Having a great knowledge of orchestration greatly helps a composer in making a beautiful musical piece.
So, do composers write music for all instruments? Usually, yes. Most composers are also musicians, and they are usually great at playing the piano. Being able to play the piano gives them the basic knowledge of how things work in the orchestra and how instruments should play their part. Typically, composers imagine in their heads how things should go before writing a short score.
There are also some instances that composers would ask for help from copyists, whose job is to receive the finished master score and organize the written music, as they can have an outside idea that could help the composer in his work.
Instruments Used In Orchestra
In a full orchestra, there are four sizes of stringed instruments that are used: viola, violin, cello, and bass. All in all, there are 44 stringed instruments in a full setup. The string family has the most numbers in a full orchestra, as more than half of the musicians belong to this family. Aside from the four-stringed instruments, another member of the family is the harp, which is usually found beside the violin section.
The instruments in the brass family are known to produce a sound when you buzz your lips into its cup-shaped mouthpiece. Its valves are used to alter the pitch, and you can control its pitch only using your lips by putting some pressure. Four types of instruments belong to this family: horn, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. Tuba was first included in the orchestra by Richard Wagner.
The woodwind instruments are tube-shaped and made of wood or metal, with holes in their tubing. Blowing in its open hole produces the sound, while covering and uncovering the holes results in changes in the pitch. As each woodwind instrument has its own unique timbre, composers usually use them as color and sparkle for the music.
The woodwind family is composed of flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. One of the members of this family has the ability to play the highest notes in the orchestra, which is the piccolo. There are eight up to twelve woodwind instruments that are used in an orchestra.
The instruments that belong to this family are either made of wood or metal and are struck by a mallet for it to produce a sound. Composers use these instruments as they provide rhythm to the piece. Typically, there is always one musician that is assigned to play the timpani. Some percussion instruments used in an orchestra are the snare drum, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, and tambourine, and nowadays, they are already using a drum kit.
Four Famous Composers In History
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the best composers that ever lived. Some even consider him to be the greatest composer of all time. His greatest works are the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B Minor, and many others. Aside from playing the organ, he is also well-known as a harpsichordist.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Although there are only a few that consider him to be the greatest composer of all time, many think of him being the most gifted musical genius that ever lived. The style of his compositions is highly renowned because of their melody and lyric. His excellence in music is also evident as his full orchestral scores were always completed in one draft without any corrections. His most famous works are Don Giovanni, Jupiter Symphony, Marriage of Figaro, and many more.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
When it comes to classical music, the name Beethoven will always come to anybody’s mind. Ludwig Van Beethoven is credited by many as the inventor of Romantic music. Even though he was already late in the scene, Mozart’s new style of music was able to stand with the rest. Although he became deaf, it was not a reason for him to stop composing some of the best music ever created.
Some of the best works Beethoven ever created were the Moonlight Sonata, Adelaide, Eroica Symphony, Third Symphony, Pathetique Sonata, and many more.
Unlike other famous composers, Chopin’s style is what really made him different from the others. He is known for favoring the piano while making the orchestra take a little back seat. The most famous composition he made was the Nocturne in C sharp minor, 24 Preludes, Piano Concerto No. 1, and Fantaisie-Impromptu.
So, do composers write music for all instruments? Generally, yes. Although most composers cannot play every instrument in the orchestra, they still have a great knowledge of how an instrument works, and what its range can be, so they do not need to know how to play every instrument to be able to write a whole piece of music; and this thing is called the orchestration.