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Instruments of the Modern Orchestra


By the 1700s, other instruments that were designed soon took over the role of previous instruments. Wind instruments such as bassoons, flutes and oboes were paired. By the 19th century, instruments in the brass and percussion sections grew, as did the string section.

Instruments of the Modern Orchestra

Aside from the violin, viola, piccolo, English Horn, French Horn and bassoon, other musical instruments of the modern orchestra include:

  • Clarinet - From its first inception during the late 1600s to todays' clarinet models, this musical instrument has certainly gone a long way. Due to the many improvements it underwent, various types of clarinets were made throughout the years.
  • Contrabassoon - Also known as double bassoon, this reed instrument that belongs to the wind family of musical instruments is bigger than the bassoon. That's why it's called "the bassoon's big brother." It is pitched lower than the bassoon and demands lung-power from a musician.
  • Double Bass - Also known as acoustic bass, bass violin, string bass, contrabass, upright bass, stand-up bass and doghouse bass.
  • Trombone - During the 19th century, trombones with valves that did or did not have slides developed. Trombones come in varying sizes and shapes, the most commonly used today is the B-flat trombone. There is also a bass trombone that is used to play orchestral music.
  • Trumpet - There are different types of trumpets, the most commonly used is the B flat trumpet. There is also the C, D, E flat and piccolo trumpet (also known as Bach trumpet). There are also trumpet-related instruments such as the cornet, flugelhorn and bugles.
  • Tuba - There are various types of tubas created through the years. In 1835, Johann Gottfried Moritz and Wilhelm Wieprecht created the bass tuba in F. Tubas that are used in the military or brass bands are the BB-flat bass and E-flat bass.
  • Bass Drum - The bass drum is a percussion instrument and is the lowest and largest member of the drum family. Bass drums are used in orchestral music as well as marching bands.
  • Kettledrum - Also known as timpani or orchestral kettledrums; it belongs to the percussion family. Timpanis emerged from kettledrums that were used in military and royal parades in India. The use of kettledrums then spread to Europe and was later adapted by classical composers (i.e. Bach and Handel) for the symphony orchestra.
  • Snare Drum - The snare drum is another percussion instrument mostly used nowadays for pop and modern orchestral music. Snare drums have a cylindrical shape and can be played either by hand or with the use of sticks.
  • Cymbals - Cymbals are believed to have been used in Egypt and Israel during Ancient times. Cymbals were also used in Greece to honor Dionysus the god of ecstasy. In Pompeii cymbals of different sizes were discovered. It would later on be introduced in the orchestral music of Europe.
  • Triangle - During the 18th century, triangles were often used in Turkish Janissary music and in orchestras. In the 19th century, triangles were used because of its unique sound.

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