Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

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Yinyue
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Joined: 30 Sep 2019, 17:16

Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

Post by Yinyue »

Hi Forum,

This question is not directly related to notation, per se, but, hoping this indecent slight would be overlooked, I'd be grateful if someone could clarify this for me.

In a traditional symphonic orchestra, how are the WW/Brass chairs set up if you have multiple player for one instrument?

I.e. if there are four French Horns, is the first on the left (from the conductor's view), then second, third and fourth, or is the first on the right and we number up towards the left?

Thanks,
Yinye

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David Ward
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Re: Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

Post by David Ward »

It varies.

Usually for trumpets and trombones the first trombone and the first trumpet sit next to one another if they are spread out in a line. If trombones are behind trumpets, then the first trombone should be directly behind the first trumpet and both nearer the centre than the the second and third players. If the horns are in line with these, then the first horn will be closest to the first trumpet. As I say, it varies, but in the UK on a concert platform the trumpets and trombones are most often to the right from the conductor's view (ie to the left from the players' own view), with the horns to the left (or right as perceived by the players). In a pit this may become slightly different, but is broadly similar, except the trumpets and trombones may be a long way from the horns.

With the woodwind it's less variable (excluding pits). Nearly always two rows for double or triple WW. Again from the conductor's view, it goes like this. First flute to the left of first oboe, with first clarinet behind first flute and first bassoon behind first oboe. The second and third players are progressively further from the centre.

But, I repeat, it varies according to repertoire, available space, demands of conductor and more.
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Yinyue
Posts: 25
Joined: 30 Sep 2019, 17:16

Re: Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

Post by Yinyue »

Awesome, thanks David. Secretly, I hoped you'd jump in and share your five cents.

How are the lines numbered? Do we count from left to right (i.e. firsts always on the left, then 2, 3, etc.) or from right to left?

Cheers.

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David Ward
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Re: Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

Post by David Ward »

Something very roughly like this is typical.
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Screenshot 2020-09-04 at 19.12.04.png
Finale 25.5 & F 26.2.2
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http://www.composers-uk.com/davidward/news.htm

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David Ward
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Re: Orchestra Seating Brass/WW

Post by David Ward »

I'll add that Covid social distancing and all that can alter the orchestra layout somewhat. However, I've just watched a live-streamed operatic concert from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in which a full orchestra of 67 (there was even a contrabass trombone) were spread right across where the stalls seats are usually placed plus the pit, with members of the chorus in individual boxes and the solo singers suitably distanced from one another on the main stage. Something close to the orchestra layout I showed above was maintained, however weirdly spread out. If you don't mind paying £16 (necessary and welcome support for those involved) you should be able to watch it on demand at https://stream.roh.org.uk/packages/the- ... in-concert until 8 October. It really was wonderful to hear and see this, despite all the restrictions.
Finale 25.5 & F 26.2.2
Mac OS 10.13.6 & 10.14.6
http://www.composers-uk.com/davidward/news.htm

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