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Thread: So I have this dream of playing in an orchestra...

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringzoffury View Post
    Actually I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you, because with my experience in choirs, my choral directors have ALWAYS focused on those qualities you mentioned which you think differentiate the orchestra from the choir. Obviously you know there is sections in choirs as well and just as you mention with the orchestra, different sections have the melody at different times and they all take turns with it just as you said.

    The same goes for sounding like one instrument. If everyone isn't blending with each other, using the correct vowels, consonants, etc., it's just going to sound pretty awful especially if you have a choir the size of my university's with about 200 singers, and Carmina Burana was a good example of the importance of "ensemble unity" because of the variety of text in a foreign language with so many different pronunciations. I remember one time in high school we were singing an 8 part arrangement of Shenandoah by James Erb and our teacher just kept beating it into our heads how important it was for each section to sound like one person, especially in the opening melodies.

    Essentially, everything you mentioned about the orchestra applies very much to a choir as well, it's just the instrumentation is different, in the case of the choir you obviously use your voice, but it's still an instrument. Obviously there are going to be differences, but personally I'm just not convinced the ones you mentioned are any of them.
    I am a lousy singer (I am not that great a bassoon player either). I can barely carry a tune. The reason they liked to use me in my college choir is because I could sing in tune and I had a strong voice. I was just talking about my personal experiences since I had done both. I am sure that there are other real musicians out the there who have sung and played in orchestras who disagree with me. I was just reacting to the tone (no pun intended) of your OP.

    The best advice is from 'senza sordino'. He trumps anything I have said. Wish you luck. And do not rule out the viola. It is a fine instrument.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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  3. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpeggio View Post
    I am a lousy singer (I am not that great a bassoon player either). I can barely carry a tune. The reason they liked to use me in my college choir is because I could sing in tune and I had a strong voice. I was just talking about my personal experiences since I had done both. I am sure that there are other real musicians out the there who have sung and played in orchestras who disagree with me. I was just reacting to the tone (no pun intended) of your OP.

    The best advice is from 'senza sordino'. He trumps anything I have said. Wish you luck. And do not rule out the viola. It is a fine instrument.
    Of course, of course. Every group operates a little differently and has different expectations. I know the tone of my OP came across as very casual, and thus was probably misleading, but that's just how I've connected myself with classical music, being that my first experience with playing music was playing Metallica on the guitar.

    The comments I made weren't meant to be taken literally, it's just that I used to idolize certain guitarists who might be referred to as "shredders" because of their "virtuosity". Once I started chorus in high school and was more exposed to classical music, I'd listen to Vivaldi and Bach and I realized that they, among many other composers and the modern day performers who play their music, are the real virtuosos/"shredders".

    I started to idolize them for their precision, balance, and overall organization of their music, and another one of my dreams, that isn't likely to be fulfilled by myself, is for metal music as a whole to adopt the standards, including but not limited to, the rigor and precision of classical music. Maybe THEN, the genre will have more respect in the musical community. I just really like trying to link genres together in anyway possible, especially metal music and classical music, such as finding classical pieces and turning them into metal arrangements, as there are many intense classical pieces that in my opinion, work well for this. I think going the other way around as well, can have good results.

    I know most of this doesn't really pertain to the original topic, but it is a major interest of mine musically, and makes me bring up a few questions(some of which I may have already answered):

    - Why is it that most well known and respected metal musicians don't have the same level of proficiency at their instruments when compared to classical musicians?
    - What can we(metal musicians) do to remedy this?
    - Why are the cultures surrounding the two genres so different, and what would happen if we tried to change that?

    So I guess basically my involvement in classical music is also part of a much broader experiment in a sense, to see what happens when you apply the standards of rigor and quality of classical music to metal, or any other modern genre of music for that matter that might be viewed as sort of "raw". In order to do this however, I think it's essential for one to have adequate experience in both styles. It makes me think about early music before the days of Bach, and the standards of modern harmony, and modern musical notation were adopted, and how it evolved from simple chanting to something like a Bach fugue. It also makes me wonder if we apply these standards, what sort of phenomena would arise in terms of musical forms, typical ensemble sizes and instrumentation, or anything else you could or couldn't possible think of. After all, it's not as if composers back in the day just sat down and said: "From now on we're going to write harmonies this way!".

    I'm sorry for going on a bit of a tangent if you don't find this sort of this interesting or if you think it's pointless, but like I said, it's a major interest of mine musically. I definitely am inspired by those of you who were in similar situations and have had success, and thank you for your feedback.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    You should read a biography of the composer Eric Whitaker and his initial exposure to classical music. You may find it interesting. It is similar to William Schuman's.

    I hesitate to mention Whitaker because many here have a very low opinion of him.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Sep-05-2014 at 18:32.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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  6. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringzoffury View Post
    Of course, of course. Every group operates a little differently and has different expectations. I know the tone of my OP came across as very casual, and thus was probably misleading, but that's just how I've connected myself with classical music, being that my first experience with playing music was playing Metallica on the guitar.

    The comments I made weren't meant to be taken literally, it's just that I used to idolize certain guitarists who might be referred to as "shredders" because of their "virtuosity". Once I started chorus in high school and was more exposed to classical music, I'd listen to Vivaldi and Bach and I realized that they, among many other composers and the modern day performers who play their music, are the real virtuosos/"shredders".

    I started to idolize them for their precision, balance, and overall organization of their music, and another one of my dreams, that isn't likely to be fulfilled by myself, is for metal music as a whole to adopt the standards, including but not limited to, the rigor and precision of classical music. Maybe THEN, the genre will have more respect in the musical community. I just really like trying to link genres together in anyway possible, especially metal music and classical music, such as finding classical pieces and turning them into metal arrangements, as there are many intense classical pieces that in my opinion, work well for this. I think going the other way around as well, can have good results.

    I know most of this doesn't really pertain to the original topic, but it is a major interest of mine musically, and makes me bring up a few questions(some of which I may have already answered):

    - Why is it that most well known and respected metal musicians don't have the same level of proficiency at their instruments when compared to classical musicians?
    - What can we(metal musicians) do to remedy this?
    - Why are the cultures surrounding the two genres so different, and what would happen if we tried to change that?

    So I guess basically my involvement in classical music is also part of a much broader experiment in a sense, to see what happens when you apply the standards of rigor and quality of classical music to metal, or any other modern genre of music for that matter that might be viewed as sort of "raw". In order to do this however, I think it's essential for one to have adequate experience in both styles. It makes me think about early music before the days of Bach, and the standards of modern harmony, and modern musical notation were adopted, and how it evolved from simple chanting to something like a Bach fugue. It also makes me wonder if we apply these standards, what sort of phenomena would arise in terms of musical forms, typical ensemble sizes and instrumentation, or anything else you could or couldn't possible think of. After all, it's not as if composers back in the day just sat down and said: "From now on we're going to write harmonies this way!".

    I'm sorry for going on a bit of a tangent if you don't find this sort of this interesting or if you think it's pointless, but like I said, it's a major interest of mine musically. I definitely am inspired by those of you who were in similar situations and have had success, and thank you for your feedback.
    It is to do with how the sound is "made." Metal requires amplification. So you are limited to the quality of the microphones and the the quality of the speakers to produce the sound. Classical music is acoustic so you can get all the different types of sound usually referred to as colours that any player can produce some are very subtle. So you can't really compare the two. Numbers and speed of notes is just that. Music is how you play the notes. If you are limited to microphones and speakers there aren't as many variations that are possible for the equipment to reproduce.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
    It is to do with how the sound is "made." Metal requires amplification. So you are limited to the quality of the microphones and the the quality of the speakers to produce the sound. Classical music is acoustic so you can get all the different types of sound usually referred to as colours that any player can produce some are very subtle. So you can't really compare the two. Numbers and speed of notes is just that. Music is how you play the notes. If you are limited to microphones and speakers there aren't as many variations that are possible for the equipment to reproduce.
    If anything I think amplification expands the possibility of sounds. In electrical engineering we have to study signal processing which can be applied by analyzing Fourier transforms produced by a real instrument and modelling them using algorithms and micro controllers, and you can manipulate those sounds or even synthesize new sounds entirely. Furthermore, the technology is getting better to the point where in some cases it may be hard for the average listener to differentiate a synthesized instrument which is trying to model a real one. We may rely on the quality of our amplification, but classical musicians rely on the quality of their instruments. You might as well consider amplification and signal processors as our instruments in addition to our guitars.

  9. #21
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Default Reading notation considerations:

    ...to add to that mix of 'what you will need / want to have.'
    For these instruments, fluent reading needs knowing:

    Violin: Treble Clef only
    Viola: Alto and Treble clefs
    V'Cello: Bass, Tenor and Soprano clefs
    V'Bass: Bass clef only (perhaps soprano with contemporary solo rep)

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    Quote Originally Posted by stringzoffury View Post
    If anything I think amplification expands the possibility of sounds. In electrical engineering we have to study signal processing which can be applied by analyzing Fourier transforms produced by a real instrument and modelling them using algorithms and micro controllers, and you can manipulate those sounds or even synthesize new sounds entirely. Furthermore, the technology is getting better to the point where in some cases it may be hard for the average listener to differentiate a synthesized instrument which is trying to model a real one. We may rely on the quality of our amplification, but classical musicians rely on the quality of their instruments. You might as well consider amplification and signal processors as our instruments in addition to our guitars.
    That is the whole point. You can study how to change the sounds. Then you have an idea how to do it. You can't do this on a violin for example until you have very high skill levels. Getting to the skill level needed could take 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stringzoffury View Post

    I know most of this doesn't really pertain to the original topic, but it is a major interest of mine musically, and makes me bring up a few questions(some of which I may have already answered):

    - Why is it that most well known and respected metal musicians don't have the same level of proficiency at their instruments when compared to classical musicians?
    - What can we(metal musicians) do to remedy this?
    - Why are the cultures surrounding the two genres so different, and what would happen if we tried to change that?

    .
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    How did I become a senior member? I only recently figured out where the restrooms are.

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    I have only two dreams, conducting Don Carlo by Verdi and as performer playing Beethoven piano concertos 3 & 5 ( with interval.)
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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    My dream is triggering the artillery battery in the 1812. Only it's not cannons, it's tuned tactical nukes.

    Sadly, that's not likely to be realized in my lifetime.


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    I'd go with the viola or cello. The viola is basically a cross (so it's portable like the violin but has a deeper string) but fewer people play it, meaning you'll have more opportunities. Or go with the cello and it will be the same.
    When you first start on an orchestral stringed instrument, you'll basically sound like variants of a screaming banshee. It doesn't matter which instrument.
    Hope this helps.

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    I know some people who play violin in an amateur orchestra who only started learning as an adult.

    Things to keep in mind.

    There will be twice or three times as many (at least) violin places in an orchestra than cello or viola. However as has been mentioned the viola is often hard to find players.

    In general viola parts are less demanding in traditional classical music than violin or cello, however cello and violin do tend to often get more rewarding parts to play.

    The cello is a more natural left hand and arm position to play than a violin or viola, and especially if you have larger hands, the extra space you get between notes on a longer string will make life a bit easier. I think you're less likely to have OOS / RSI issues on a cello than a violin. However there are much fewer openings in an orchestra.

    In any case, if you're determined, get yourself a good teacher and don't be put off by any posters here. You don't want to learn things (in technique) that you later need to unlearn.

    Adults in many ways are much better students, they can be much more motivated to practise, and understand things more easily. You will probably be able to derive some personal gratification from any of those instruments if you put some regular effort in in just a couple of years and go from there.

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    I can entirely understand your desire to play in a group. It can be thrilling and satisfying and you can make friends. Since you have a seven-year background with guitar, it might be wise to consider playing a string instrument, such as the violin, viola, or cello. But they’re expensive instruments and there’s the rub. Nevertheless, you could still give it a try by finding a live teacher who could evaluate your progress. I might be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve have that much formal training, and to play in an orchestra would require that. But the interest is there and you sound like you have some measure of musical talent. Good luck. If not a stringed instrument, then the piano might be your best bet. I would also suggest spending time with other instruments, perhaps rent a trumpet for a month and play with that, etc., and perhaps go more deeply into what instrument you enjoyed hearing in the orchestra. Mine was the clarinet. I was fascinated with its sound and so that’s what I studied, then later saxophone and flute.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Nov-08-2018 at 23:05.
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  21. #30
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    Sorry for not being particularly informative wih my previous reply.
    I have absolutely no experience with playing in an orchestra. I'd be going for it if there was one in my area, but where I live it's pretty musically dead except for folk and blues. I have played with friends, but it has never really gone well.
    It's great that you have this aspiration. Don't let others get in the way of that. Music is about having fun, no matter what genre you're in.
    It's also wonderful that you already have experience with ensemble playing. That will help a lot. In fact, you probably won't really need to worry much about learning to listen to the other players and focus on yourself and all of that.
    I don't think that your dream is too out of the question. It's a realistic goal to have, and a good one. And you already know it will take time and effort.
    I apologize for suggesting the viola after knowing you didn't want that one. But it does seem like a good choice. It's a gorgeous instrument and a relatively inexpensive. An entry-level cello is so much more expensive. Whatever you decide, rent first. If you don't like the instrument, you can always take it back and try another.
    I'd reach out to the community orchestra. Maybe someone will give you advice.

    Please don't take offense to this. What I say below is expressed as my own personal opinion which reflects fifteen years of living in a household where rock, metal and pop are enjoyed (as opposed to classical; I'm the only one in my family who enjoys and prefers classical; incidently, I'm also the only musician), my experience of listening and playing classical, and my experience with dabbling in other genres for violin and piano.
    I don't really think that the reason metal musicians can be mediocre in comparison to some classical virtuosos (no offense) has to do with the amplification. In my personal opinion, I just think it's because artists of many other genres really don't care about technique as much as classical musicians do. Most don't seem to care much for musical integrity, as long as it's catchy and it sells. I know a lot of rock and metal artists help each other out, which is great. But whenever I hear that kind of music and others, I kind of just think of how in modern painting, people think throwing splotches of paint on a canvas is good enough. And maybe it is for some, but aren't the paintings that are so perfectly detailed, that have taken much more skill to create, and more time to learn how to do it...aren't these paintings so much more stunning than a few spots of color?
    Modern stuff seems to just be more repetitive and lacking in creativity and innovation. But a lot of them are self-taught (which is great, too, I'm not saying it isn't; it takes a lot more patience and diligence to self-teach than it does to have an experienced teacher...but it's also more difficult and it raises the possibilty of wrong technique, posture, etc, which could easily be remedied), don't read sheet music (also not a terrible thing), and haven't a clue about dynamics, articulation, or anything else. How many of them study music and composition thoroughly?
    Even in folk, no one seems to care much about technique. I started out with fiddle before switching to classical violin. And the only techniques fiddle really uses are grace notes, vibrato, double stops, and dynamics. That's about it. Occasionally, there's someone who can do more. In classical, the list of violin (and other instruments of its family) techniques are seem endless. Pizzicato, col legno, sul ponticello, sul tasto, richochet, flying spiccato, and so many more. I mean, I love Ashokan Farewell, but it isn't the greatest piece ever composed. It's beautiful, but it's extremely repetitive. When a classical piece is repetitive, it's usually done intentionally because it's a Rondo.
    In opera and choral, technique for voice seems so much more advanced than in other genres.
    Some songs in other genres have truly meaningful and emotional lyrics, but lack in musical range. They just repeat the lyrics in the same musical sequence, with perhaps a slight alteration. They might give the song an okay guitar/keyboard solo for variation, but then otherwise it just repeats itself.
    In classical, most of the time musicians are supposed to go off to some music university to study for a few years. That's after years of taking lessons and perfecting their playing, practicing, and performing.
    I think that is going to reflect back on their playing, composing, and songwriting. In classical and jazz, musicians tend to care a lot more about music theory and musical integrity. That's what we're trained to do. And there are also many more instruments in classical than in other genres, which will obviously lead to more of a rich diversity.
    I'm not just saying this about metal/rock, I'm talking about modern genres in general. Pop, rap, country, blues, rag, and everything in between.
    I know some musicians in other genres are truly skilled. I especially think of jazz with that statement. I also can appreciate what I've heard of Elton John. But generally speaking, I just think that in classical, there will be more virtuosos and more diverse, complex music because that is what we are trained to care about. That's where the image of strict, sophisticated classical musicians comes from. It's a misconception, but somewhat true. In comparison to the goals for other genres, classical kind of takes on more than just making it sound good. So some other musicians and artists may seem extremely relaxed in comparison, and in turn making us seem so "sophisticated" or whatever because "having fun" sometimes comes second to technique. And in other genres, they want to have fun. All in all, music should be fun, but also rich in technique and complexity, creativity and innovation.
    I don't think genres should be combined. Country and pop, rock and hip hop, classical and metal? I don't think any of those do well together on a general basis. They kind of seem like oil and water: vastly different and won't mix too well.
    "Why are the two culturally different, and what can we do to change that?"
    Classical is primarily European and Russian, metal is primarily American. Of course they'll be culturally different.
    Look, I'm not into metal. So maybe I don't have a clearer idea as you do, but isn't it kind of flourishing? I mean, some people think it's the devil's music, but isn't it pretty popular? I don't think it needs any other boosters. Maybe you want to combine them and have them at the same level because you like both genres, but they shouldn't be. Metal would ruin classical, and I'm sure metal fans wouldn't appreciate Clair de Lune in the midst of Slipknot. Combining them will, in my opinion, just cause more stereotypes and more problems in the industry than there are. Maybe it's best left alone.
    Last edited by Jeanette Townsend; Dec-02-2018 at 22:31.

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