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What Are the Different Types of Orchestra Music?

H. Bliss
H. Bliss

An orchestra is a name for a large ensemble of musicians playing a composed piece on acoustic or electronic instruments. Types of orchestra music are usually associated with the type of orchestra playing the music. Common types of orchestras include chamber orchestras, string orchestras, or symphonic orchestras. Orchestral music for educational groups often comes in specific types to suite each type of orchestra. Sometimes, the music is written for orchestras made mostly of one instrument, like string orchestras, which contain primarily instruments like violins, violas, and cellos.

Generally, a standard symphonic orchestra has groups of woodwinds, brass instruments, percussion, and string instruments. Many symphonic orchestras also have pianos or organs. Percussion for this type of music almost always contains more than one timpani, a large drum that makes a familiar boom used in many types of orchestral music. Most orchestras have about 100 players. Significantly smaller orchestras with the same proportions of instruments are usually called chamber orchestras.

There are various types of orchestra music.
There are various types of orchestra music.

Orchestra music has changed a great deal throughout the years, so there are many types of orchestra music. The first orchestra music theoretically started with 1600s opera, but over time, many styles of music for the developing types of orchestras developed. Consistently popular types of orchestral music include classical, baroque, and chamber music. Orchestras are frequently used in radio hits to add an air of acoustic drama to popular music. In 1950s, which was a high point in the popularity of this type of music, orchestras were a primary source of background music in many films and television programs.

Orchestras often perform classical music.
Orchestras often perform classical music.

Sometimes, an orchestra full of learning musicians needs a simple piece that is free of overly challenging passages. Simplified musical pieces provide an attainable musical goal for student musicians to strive for when they are preparing for their first public musical performances. Orchestral music can also be written to suit the musicians in an orchestra, with special musical compositions written or adapted for a particular age group or musical skill set. This type of music is most common in school orchestras. Easy compositions can be used for orchestras with many young members or beginners.

Organs may be featured in an orchestra.
Organs may be featured in an orchestra.

Though orchestra music is most often played by acoustic instruments, contemporary composers often include synthesizers and other electronic instruments in their musical compositions. Though synthesizers are usually an accent in a large orchestra with other instruments, some orchestras contain only electronic instruments. One example of this type of orchestra is a Moog orchestra, a type of synth orchestra made with analog synthesizers manufactured by a man named Robert Moog.

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Discussion Comments


Our city has a symphony that has had the same director for many years. Even though this is not a huge metropolitan area, we are known for our symphony. It is considered quite an honor to have a spot in this orchestra.

One of the things they do every year is put on a special production on New Years Eve. They play songs that are well known by most people and are probably a little bit different than what they play at their regular performances.

One year I won free tickets to hear them perform, and I wasn't disappointed. I am not very musically talented and haven't picked up a musical instrument since 7th grade, but I love listening to the percussion section.

Of all the instruments included in this orchestra, I always listen for the sound of the drums.


Our church has an orchestra with about 50 people in it. All the members of the orchestra are also members of our congregation, and we have a lot of talented musicians.

I haven't played a musical instrument since I played the clarinet in high school, but I always enjoy the productions the orchestra puts on. For most of the people in the orchestra, it gives them an opportunity to play their instrument that they might not have otherwise.

Of all the instruments that are included in our orchestra, I enjoy listening to the woodwinds the most. Maybe this is because I played the clarinet four years in high school, and am the most familiar with it.

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    • There are various types of orchestra music.
      By: db238
      There are various types of orchestra music.
    • Orchestras often perform classical music.
      By: kirvinic
      Orchestras often perform classical music.
    • Organs may be featured in an orchestra.
      By: Magnus
      Organs may be featured in an orchestra.
    • Pianos are often included in orchestras.
      By: scalaphotography
      Pianos are often included in orchestras.
    • An orchestra consists of several different sections of instruments.
      By: oliver.wolf
      An orchestra consists of several different sections of instruments.