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Old 01-04-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
dannydawiz
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Learning the Tone of Other Instruments

Hey guys I recently bought myself a copy of Sibelius 7 and I've been finding it incredibly inspiring to use as a tool for transcription.

I love listening to music a lot and although I'm primarily a guitar player something that I've noticed during this past year is that my ears have grown tremendously as far as recognizing different instruments. I would have to thank my high school band that.

Getting to the point though, I want to begin using Sibelius 7 as a tool to expand my knowledge of the tone and limitations of different instruments by transcribing music.

With that being said my first goal is to learn more about all the different instruments used in modern orchestra.

I am very limited in my knowledge of the string family due to the fact that they aren't included in modern music education. I also have to admit that I am not very solid on the brass sections either.

What do you guys suggest I do in order to expand my ear? I have music that contains instruments from different families but I don't understand some of the noises i'm hearing.

Another thing is, I have trouble distinguishing instruments when they're all played at the same time. I get the clarinet mixed up with the soprano sax for example when they're all played at once.

My music teacher doesn't put in an effort to teach and you guys are the only guidance I have so please.

Can you guys offer me any guidance on expanding my ears?
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:36 PM   #2
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Read purple below.

If you really want to get into it, I would learn what keys each instrument is in. ie: trumpet, clarient, and alto sax (iirc) play in the key of Bb. Flutes (?), guitar, and piano are all in the key of C (concert pitch), etc.

The best way to learn the tones or timbres of an instrument are to listen to recordings of them.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:11 PM   #3
dannydawiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWACS
Read purple below.

If you really want to get into it, I would learn what keys each instrument is in. ie: trumpet, clarient, and alto sax (iirc) play in the key of Bb. Flutes (?), guitar, and piano are all in the key of C (concert pitch), etc.

The best way to learn the tones or timbres of an instrument are to listen to recordings of them.


Thanks for the suggestion. I admit that playing a transposed instrument was a challenge for me when my music teacher told me that I was no longer able to practice guitar in band class. I picked up an Eb Alto Sax and getting used to the new note names was a challenge. It's also beneficial since sometimes I have trouble communicating with other musicians because of the transposition.

A few questions though.

1. Do you have any suggestions for recordings? I want to get started on the string section first preferably but that doesn't matter. I know that instrumental guitar music exists but do they also have an equivalent for other instruments? Where the main focus in sound is primarily that instrument? If so could you name me the song/album/composer along with the instrument?

2. Are there any restrictions to the keys that the instruments can play in? I know that just because a guitar/piano is in C major doesn't mean that it's incapable of playing other keys but I'm just curious about the instruments themselves.

Last edited by dannydawiz : 01-04-2013 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannydawiz
1. Do you have any suggestions for recordings? I want to get started on the string section first preferably but that doesn't matter. I know that instrumental guitar music exists but do they also have an equivalent for other instruments? Where the main focus in sound is primarily that instrument? If so could you name me the song/album/composer along with the instrument?

Strings are probably the easiest because there's loads of solo and chamber music for strings. Look at string quartets of your favourite composers (they probably have them) or some solo music. The tricky ones to find solo will be viola and bass, but violin and cello should be relatively easy to find being featured. Also remember, the strength of the string family in an orchestral setting (or one of them) is that they all sound more or less the same.
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Originally Posted by dannydawiz
2. Are there any restrictions to the keys that the instruments can play in? I know that just because a guitar/piano is in C major doesn't mean that it's incapable of playing other keys but I'm just curious about the instruments themselves.

The sounding pitch of an instrument is just a point of transposition. A guitar isn't "in C major" it's just a C instrument (it doesn't transpose) the same way that an Eb Alto Sax isn't in Eb, it just transposes a major sixth down (C sounds like Eb). So no, there's no limitation (anymore) in what keys an instrument can play.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:14 PM   #5
dannydawiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz_rock_feel
Strings are probably the easiest because there's loads of solo and chamber music for strings. Look at string quartets of your favourite composers (they probably have them) or some solo music. The tricky ones to find solo will be viola and bass, but violin and cello should be relatively easy to find being featured. Also remember, the strength of the string family in an orchestral setting (or one of them) is that they all sound more or less the same.

The sounding pitch of an instrument is just a point of transposition. A guitar isn't "in C major" it's just a C instrument (it doesn't transpose) the same way that an Eb Alto Sax isn't in Eb, it just transposes a major sixth down (C sounds like Eb). So no, there's no limitation (anymore) in what keys an instrument can play.


I understand thanks for the clarification! Also I thought of a song but I'm still not sure about the names of the instruments so could you correct me if i'm wrong?

In this video at 0:17 is the biggest string instrument the double bass? Also are those 3 violins? I know that the viola looks very similar so I just wanna check to make sure.

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Old 01-05-2013, 12:32 AM   #6
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For string sounds/covers, I personally love Vitamin String Quartet. They do awesome cover of well-known songs.

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:01 AM   #7
dannydawiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWACS
For string sounds/covers, I personally love Vitamin String Quartet. They do awesome cover of well-known songs.



Wow! I can't tell you how much this helps! I love how you can hear the voices so clearly.

So in a string quartet the order of the voices from lowest to highest is Double Bass, Cello, Viola, and then Violin?

It sounds like the Cello, Violin, and Double Bass are the most distinctive to my ear but I'm still having a little trouble with the Viola.

Im working on it. THanks for all the help so far.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:05 AM   #8
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A classical string quartet is two violins, a viola and a cello.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:16 AM   #9
dannydawiz
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Originally Posted by rockingamer2
A classical string quartet is two violins, a viola and a cello.


Oh I see

So the Double Bass usually isn't included in a quartet? In what type of ensemble is it usually included then?
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:21 AM   #10
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From wiki:
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The double bass is a standard member of the string section of the symphony orchestra and smaller string ensembles in Western classical music. In addition, it is used in other genres such as jazz, 1950s-style blues and rock and roll, rockabilly/psychobilly, traditional country music, bluegrass, tango and many types of folk music. A person who plays the double bass is usually referred to as a bassist.


You can make up an ensemble with whatever instruments you want as well.
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