If it is falling down, yell 'Timbre'.

UNIT 8 DAY 1 - What is Timbre?


Questionnaire (Unit 8 Day 1 - Twenty-Ninth Lecture)

 What is Timbre?
    It is a quality of sound that makes each instrument sound differently.

 What is a 'family' of instruments?
    It is a category that groups different instruments that, by its design are related to each other.

 How a performer takes out of one instrument such different timbres?
    Using different playing techniques and testing different ranges.

Timbre makes all the instruments sound different from each other.

A main tone will present harmonics (partial sounds) in various frecuencies and the sum of that sounds is in the end the timbre of the instrument. A synthesizer can associate to that basic tone a sum of partials, so it is able to imitate more or less successfully timbres of acoustic instruments and create new electronic sounds.

A Spectrogram shows how the harmonics are combined to produce the timbre of a sound. (Go to 10' to see exactly the example).

Visualizing Sound - Berklee

And an example of a synthesizer that produces different timbres by sound synthesis.

Different Timbres Synth Workstation

The different melodies the instruments contribute to the musical works, its location and its size - and many other things - make this instruments sound in contrasting ways. 

A family of instruments is a category that groups different instruments that are related because of their manufacturing.

An instrument have different timbres because of the different performance techniques and trying various ranges for orchestrating melodies.

Paganini's Caprice no.24 performed by Alexander Markov.

Paganini's Caprice no.24 performed by Alexander Markov.
A single instrument produces such varieties of timbre, thanks to the different performance techniques.


Hanon Aloud - Exercise 15 (Day 1)
Groups of four consecutive descending notes with gaps between the second and the third.

C - B - G - F / B - A - F - E / A - G - E - D / G - F - D - C / F - E - C - B / E - D - B - A / D - C - A - G

Recorder 2ESO

UNIT 8 DAY 2 - Musical Instrument Classification: Hornbostel-Sachs.


Questionnaire (Unit 8 Day 3 - Thirty Lecture)

 Scientific Instrument Classification.
    Idiophones, Membranophones, Cordophones, Aerophones and Electrophones.

 Why the composers mix different instruments in musical works? 
    Because ensembles of various timbres sound much better and brighten listeners up.

We will learn the classical orchestra instrument classification but, although it generally used, it only serves for orchestration, meaning only writing for orchestra. The scientific categorization was first published in 1914 when Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs took the ideas of Victor-Charles Mahillon to classify instruments according to the nature of the sound-producing material: Air column, strings, membrane and the whole body of the instrument.

Hornbostel (1877-1935) and Sachs (1881-1959)

After the introduction of the electronic instruments, this classification divides intruments into Idiophones, Membranophones, Chordophones, Aerophones and Electrophones.

And, of course, there are things that does not fit in any classification. Take a look a this picture:


Hanon Aloud - Exercise 15 (Day 2)
Groups of four consecutive descending notes with gaps between the second and the third.

C - B - G - F / B - A - F - E / A - G - E - D / G - F - D - C / F - E - C - B / E - D - B - A / D - C - A - G

Recorder 2ESO

UNIT 8 DAY 3 - Chamber Music Ensembles (I): Solo Music, Duets, Trios, Quartets and Quintets.


Questionnaire (Unit 8 Day 3 - Thirty-First Lecture)

 Works for soloists.
    A work for solo instrument can be written for each of the existing instruments, but only a few of them reach the category of being in a concert.

    Two performers who play on two identical instruments, in the same instrument or in two different instruments in which case one plays the main melody and the other plays the accompaniment.

 Trios and Quartets.
    Trios consists of a violin, a viola and a cello, while the Quartets doubles the violin parts.

 Piano Quintet and Wind Quintet.
    Piano quintet is a String Quartet plus a Piano and Wind Quintet consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn.

This day starts a series of texts showcasing the Musical Ensembles in Chamber Music starting with the solo instrument to the Chamber Orchestra. The Large Orchestra and other kind of ensembles are going to be discussed the next unit.

A work for solo instrument can be written for each of the existing instruments, but only a few kind of instruments reach the category that let them being part of the concert works. For example, there are works for solo tuba, but it is not what you normally find in a concert hall program.

Paco de Lucia - Guitarra Cordoba Festival

Guitar solo. Paco de Lucía.

Jarrod Radnich Game of Thrones Medley

Piano solo. Jarrod Radnich performs a Medley of Game of Thrones themes.

Samantha Muir - Menuet by JS Bach on ukulele

Ukeleke solo. Transcription for Ukelele of a well-known melody by Bach.

Super Mario Bros. - Solo Tuba

...and, of course, a Tuba solo with a memorable melody.

Shara Lin Plays 3 instruments at the same time! She is one talented artist!

But we can go crazy and play more than one instrument!! 

Duets are composed of two performers who play Music in the same instrument (1) or in two instruments which can be the same (for example, two violins) (2) or in two different instruments (for example, piano and violin) (3). In that case one plays the solo part and the other is the accompaniment.

Duets on the same instrument.

Pirates of the caribbean - 4 hands piano

Four Hands Piano.

Marimba Orquídea de Guadalajara "El Manicero"

Four Hands Marimba

Fran Idareta - Txalaparta

Four Hands Txalaparta (a traditional Basque Country instrument)

Duets with two same instruments.

2CELLOS - Thunderstruck [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Peculiar version of a rock song in a two cellos version.

SWEET DREAMS - Eurythmics/Marilyn Manson (Harp Twins electric) Camille and Kennerly

Two celtic harps played by the Kitt Twins.

Duet with two different instruments.

Schindler's List Violin Theme by Ann Fontanella

Violin and piano. The firsts carries the melody while the last holds the accompaniment.

Astor Piazzolla - Nightclub 1960 for Flute & Guitar - Marco Granados, Felippe Santos

Flute and Guitar duo.

In Chamber Music, Trios and Quartets, are commonly exclusively composed of string instruments, although there are variations if a piano is included.

A violin, a viola and a cello creates a Trio.

Espiga Trio - Schubert string trio in Bb. D 471. Allegro

String Trio: violin, viola and cello.

Mission Impossible (Piano/Cello/Violin) ft. Lindsey Stirling - ThePianoGuys

And more String Trios: violin, cello and piano. Well... an original one.

A Quartet doubles the violin parts: two violins, a viola and a cello. Percussion Ensembles in Chamber Music are usually quartets.

Pachelbel - Canon - Stringspace String Quartet

String Quartet: two violins, viola and cello.

Steve Reich - Quartet (Amadinda Percussion Group)

Percussion quartet: two metalophones and two marimbas.

Bela Bartok: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

Bartok's Two Pianos and Percussion Quartet

The Piano Quintet is a quartet (two violins, viola and cello) that adds a piano part. The Wind (Woodwind) Quintet consists of a flute, an oboe, a clarinet, a bassoon and a French Horn.

Brahms Piano Quintet in Fm, 3rd movement

Piano Quintet: A String Quartet plus a Piano.

Szervánszky - Woodwind Quintet No.1

Woodwind Quintet: flute, oboe, clarinet, basson and French Horn.


Hanon Aloud - Exercise 16 (Day 1)
Groups of four consecutive ascending notes with gaps between the third and the fourth.

C - D - E - G / D - E - F - A / E - F - G - B / F - G - A - C / G - A - B - D / A - B - C - E / B - C - D - F

Recorder 2ESO

UNIT 8 DAY 4 - Chamber Music Ensembles (II): other ensembles and the Chamber Orchestra going to the Bands.


Questionnaire (Unit 8 Day 4 - Thirty-Second Lecture)

 Chamber Orchestra.
    It includes several parts of flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon; French horns, trumpet, trombone and tuba; two of violin, viola, cello and a double bass. Percussion, piano, organ or harp can also appear.

    When no string sections (although there may be a cello section), clarinets take the place of violins. The Jazz Big Band adds piano, bass and drums.

There are intermediate groups between the Quintet and the Chamber Orchestra as the Sextet (two violins, two violas and two cellos - a duplicated trio), the Septet or Octet, but they are not as usual as the smaller ensembles.  

Schönberg - Transfigured Night for String Sextet, Op. 4

String Sextet: two violins, two violas and two cellos.

Beethoven "Septet: 3rd. moviment - (Septimino)"

Septet: violin, viola, cello, double-bass, clarinet, basson and French Horn.

Octet for wind instruments by Igor Stravinsky

Octet: flute, clarinet, two bassons, two trumpets and two trombones. 

Adding instrument parts in some cases and also with a larger number of musicians, we have a Chamber Orchestra.

The Chamber Orchestra is an abridged Simphony Orchestra consisting on various parts of woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon), brass (french horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba) and strings (violin, viola, cello and double bass) plus percussion and other instruments like piano, harp or organ. 

Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

The first compositions for orchestra needs few musicians. Just the Strings in this Mozart's work.

Chaikovsky - Elegy for strings

And in the 19th Century it was an interesting option for some composers.

Schönberg Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9

20th Century composers also wrote for Chamber Orchestras intensively.

When there is no string section (although there may be cellos), clarinets take the place of the violins in what we call a Band. 

Banda Municipal de Valencia

Banda Simfònica Santa Cecília d'Algemesí

Banda Municipal (Spain)

Purdue All-American Marching Band

American Marching Band

The Big Band adds to the various wind sections, instruments like piano, guitar or organ, bass and drums.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - Take the "A" Train

Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Wil Salden - In The Mood

Birdland Performed by the Buddy Rich Big Band


Hanon Aloud - Exercise 16 (Day 2)
Groups of four consecutive ascending notes with gaps between the third and the fourth.

C - D - E - G / D - E - F - A / E - F - G - B / F - G - A - C / G - A - B - D / A - B - C - E / B - C - D - F

Recorder 2ESO



          This unit we have learnt...
(Unit 1)

    Music is...

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