Classical Music Talk

April 12, 2010

Know your classical concert types

Filed under: Uncategorized — classicalconnect @ 10:29 am
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For many people classical music is something they cannot access, it has been shrouded in a cloak of mystery and other worldliness. All forms of classical music seem to be reserved for a group of people with higher levels of taste and culture, but the reality is that like all forms of music anyone can enjoy it regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. This stereotype has been long in the making and for those people that would like to give this form of music a try, they usually give up after the second of third hurdle.

One reason for this one sided view is ignorance of the endless pages of classical music terminology, concert types and the instrument groups. If you were to visit a concert hall to listen to a choral music selection for the first time, then you may feel a little out of your element at first. You may not understand what is type of music is being played or even how to enjoy the concert; to give first timers to the classical music scene a little knowledge on what they might expect, here are a few concert types:

  • A Recital – This type of concert usually involves one person playing to an audience, the most popular instrument for this form of show is the piano. There are also other kinds of recitals, such as the duo recital where two people take to the stage, either together or one after the other, but in this case both are equally important to the concert.
  • Chamber Music – This type of classical music is made up of a small group of musicians all playing together, the combination of instrument types usually follow a familiar pairing; for example you might have a stringed quartet made up of 2 violins, a viola and a cello. Another popular chamber music pairing is a ‘piano trio’ which is a piano, a cello and a violin all together on stage at the same time. In some cases there might also be a singer included in the groups, other popular pairings are vocal groups (all singers), percussion groups and wind groups.
  • Chamber orchestras – This is a small version of the popular large concert hall orchestra, the number of people playing will depend on the piece of music being played, but numbers go from 10 to 40. In most cases the orchestra is led by a conductor, but on the odd occasion the musicians are left to play spontaneously and outside of the boundaries. Chamber orchestras normally consist of just stringed instruments, but again this can vary depending on who is organizing the concert.
  • Symphony / Philharmonic orchestra – This is the large well known orchestra type that everyone I familiar with, it includes over 80 musicians. Each part of the music is broken down into sections, such as the percussion, woodwind, brass and strings with each of these groups containing 10 or more players. With an orchestra of this size a conductor is needed to control different elements of the song, such as tempo, tone, pitch and the timing of each part.
  • Choral music – Choral music is a type of classical music that focuses on making the human voice the main feature of a concert, there are usually no instrumental accompaniments with type of music, but in some cases singers may sing along with a piano or other small groups of instruments.  The number of singers can go from 2 to 40 depending on what is being sung.
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