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Instruments of the orchestra - Strings

Besides the well-liked violin, three other instruments make up the string section of an orchestra
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - April 1, 2010
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Instruments of the orchestra - Strings

The typical symphony orchestra is a fairly large instrumental ensemble with four main instrument families: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. If a piano or harp is used, it can be considered a separate entity or grouped with the percussion section, depending on how the music is written.

The string section forms the bulk of the orchestra and sits up front on stage. The string family consists of the violin, viola, cello and double bass. Although there are four instruments, the violins are divided into two groups: first and second violins. The first violins play a higher part than the second violins, if such a part is called for.

The violin is the smallest stringed instruments in the orchestra and plays the highest notes in the section. It has four strings (G, D, A, and E) and can produce notes of more than four octaves. The main melodic line is usually played by the violin.

A viola looks very similar to the violin, but is slightly larger. Known as the instrument in the middle, it produces a deeper and warmer sound than the violin. Its four strings are tuned to C, G, D, and A. The viola is generally not used in a solo role.

The cello is the third-largest string instrument and is played by placing the instrument on the floor and gripped between the player’s legs. The strings on a cello are C, D, G, and A. It has a rich tone and is sometimes featured as a solo instrument.

The largest string instrument is the double bass and is the lowest-pitched in the section. To play it, you have to stand behind it or sit on a high stool. The strings on a double bass are E, A, D, and G.


Instruments of the orchestra - Woodwinds