The question of how many instruments in a symphony orchestra often arises when people are interested in hiring a conductor, pianist, or any of a multitude of musicians who might be employed in a symphony. There are a variety of situations in which these musicians might be employed, and each situation requires a different number of instruments. In the case of an ensemble such as a string quartet, for instance, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of instruments that can be employed. To a non-music lover, this can often seem like a lot, and indeed it is. However, a professional orchestrator or orchestra may employ a smaller number of instruments in a symphony than some other kinds of groups.
The orchestration of a musical composition usually involves more than one instrument. One of the most well-known examples of this is the echoplex. It is commonly used as the end of a violin or viola piece to give the appearance of an extra valve (since no actual violin or viola piece actually has one). Although it is not considered an instrument in its own right, it is frequently played in a symphony alongside the main violins. Other orchestral instruments include the clarinet, the bassoon, the tympanis, and the cello. While each of these instruments has its own distinctive sound and use, they are also played together in an orchestration.
There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when one tries to answer the question “How many instruments in a symphony orchestra?” First of all, the size of the symphony’s ensemble is one of the most important factors to consider. This is because, as previously mentioned, an orchestration has a number of instruments of varying sizes. Additionally, the capabilities of each of the individual instruments must also be taken into account. The conductor, for example, must be able to read notes, the orchestra pit conductor must be able to play the different instruments, and so forth.
Secondly, there are various numbers of notes that an orchestra can play. Each member of the orchestra must be able to handle a specific number of notes. These are typically referred to as keys. For instance, if the composer wants the orchestra to play a number of songs of four chords, then each member must be able to play four keys. Naturally, this is not always the case, but it is common for many pianists to learn their scales/brackets before attempting any of this.
Finally, the style of the music is another factor to consider when one is wondering “How many instruments in a symphony orchestra?” A symphonic piece would typically require a single drum set. In fact, a single string instrument (most often a flute) may even be seen as a part of the symphonic score. Some orchestras will have a number of horn instruments, such as cellos and trombones. And some orchestras will use more than one type of musical instrument, sometimes a series of them. For example, one may see a concerto where all of the instruments are played on Stellas.
Orchestration, in contrast, would likely be comprised of many more instruments. It might have a grand piano included, a wind section (either a section on the side or back of the stage), and, often, the keyboards. This number is nearly always much larger than the number of horns mentioned above. However, the number of voices in an orchestration (which can be as many as sixty-two) is even larger.
There are many factors to consider when one is wondering “How many instruments in a symphony orchestra?” Of course, the actual answer depends upon the specific conductor, the specific symphony, and the specific type of show being performed. Some of the most popular symphonies today feature an all-star cast, featuring a string quartet, three flamenco groups, a chamber orchestra, and a keyboard player. Such a cast would likely need at least four musicians: a bassoon, a clarinet, a bass guitar, and a second violin, for example.
But another question that arises is “How many horns should I include?” The size of a symphony orchestra is determined by the size of the venue, so it is difficult to know exactly the total number of instruments you will need, unless you make a guess. For smaller symphonies, it is easy: just count the number of seats available, divide that number by the number of sections (e.g., do you have a center section, a side section, a middle section, and an end section), and choose the appropriate number of each. For larger ensembles, the horns must be split evenly between the different sections to adequately cover all the roles.