Tips for Classical Musicians

Month: November 2017

Rarely Used Orchestral Instruments

A lot of composers throughout the years have pushed the boundaries of classical music by writing part of a song using new instruments. Unfortunately, not all of them have been famous and lasted so long as a fixture in the orchestra. Some of these instruments includes the following:


Prepared Piano

Since the romantic period, classical writers have been composing piano concertos. Ever since that time, piano concertos has been one of the most popular orchestral arrangements. Maverick American then had this idea of making a piano with things inserted among the strings and hammers in order to give a regular piano a range of bizarre tones.



This is invented by Welhelm Heckel, a German instrument maker. This instrument is a cross between an oboe and a bassoon. It made its first appearance in the classical music industry during the 1900s. During those times, it is often listed under the name of “bass oboe” but the name was also given to a similar instrument causing a big confusion. Eventually, this instrument was singled out by Richard Strauss.



This instrument was created in honor of a French military bandleader. Originally, it was made as a replacement for relatively quieter woodwind instruments in military bands. This instrument caught a glimpse of popularity during the 1900s when famous composers wrote parts for it in some of their works.


Glass Armonica

This instrument involves a revolving set of glass cups which makes a shimmering sound when played with fingers. Although considered a very obscure instrument, a number of famous composers have used this instrument as a part of their pieces.



In the 1920s, this instrument is known for giving off spooky, high-pitched droning sound which is used as soundtracks for classic sci-fi movies.


Wagner Tuba

Commonly known as Wagnertuben, this instrument was invented at the request of Richard Wagner. This became popular in the 19th century which is used to fill tonal spaces between trombone, tuba, and French horn.

November 15, 2017     0 Comments   , , ,

Orchestra Conductors: The Neccesity

Always standing in the middle of the stage while waving their hands, orchestra conductors seems to play a very important role during performances. Even though all musicians already have a copy of the notes or scores to be played, the orchestra in while cannot manage on its own.


A Study Conducted

A study conducted by a group of people from the University of Maryland aimed to emphasize the importance of orchestra conductors. They recruited musicians from Ferrara, Italy to participate in this study.

A tiny infrared light was installed at the tip of the conductor’s baton. Similar lights were placed on the bows of the violinists. The orchestra was then surrounded with infrared cameras. When the baton is waved, the violinists moved their bows. The lights create a pattern in space that the cameras captured. The patterns were analyzed using mathematical techniques to understand if the movement of the conductor is linked to those of the violinists.

The hypothesis was that if the conductor predicts the movement of its violinists, then it is sure that the conductor is leading its musicians. However, if the conductor can’t predict the movement of its violinists, then it is the players who are in charge.

A signal is originating from the conductor as he moves his hands and body. The musicians then receives the signal and create another signal by moving the bows of their violins. This is considered as a sensorimotor conversation.

The research was actually part of a bigger study that aims to understand if human movements have something in common with human language. Both maybe based on similar processes inside the brain.


The Results of the Study

The study found out that the conductors were indeed leading the violinists and the conductor’s movement predicted the violinists’ movement. Two conductors were used in the study: an amateur and a veteran. With this, the study also found out  that he experience of the conductor drastically affects the performance of the musicians.

November 7, 2017     0 Comments   , ,