The Orchestra is made up of four families of Instruments.  In the order they fall on the score, from the top of the page, they are:

  • The woodwind Family,
  • The brass Family,
  • The Percussion,
  • The Strings.

Discussing each one in turn, we ‘ll start with the Woodwind Family.

Woodwind

Piccolo, also known as Flauto Piccolo, sounds an octave higher than written.  It is quite small and is played from the side.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range is D, 4th line of treble, to B flat almost 3 octaves higher.

Flute,  also known as Flauto, sounds at the pitch written.  It also is played from the side.  Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range is Middle C,  to the 3rd C above.

Oboe, has a double reed mouth piece from which the sound is produced and a conical tube.  Sounds at the pitch written.
Reads from  the Treble Stave.
Range is B flat just below Middle C,  to the 3rd G above middle C.

Cor Anglais, also known as Corno Inglese, is an alto oboe. It’s notes and finger positions are the exact same as the Oboe, but it sounds a perfect 5th lower.  This makes it a transposing instrument.  The music has to be written a perfect 5th higher for the Cor Anglais.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range B just under Middle C, to the 3rd E above.

Clarinet, also known as Clarinetto, like the cor anglais is a transposing instrument.  There are many different possibilities here,  A and  B flat are the more common.  The mouth piece includes one reed and the tube is cylindrical.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range is E below Middle C, to 3 C’s above.

Bassoon, also known as the Fagotto, from the Oboe family has a double reed mouth piece as the Oboe and a conical tube. It is not transposing.
Reads from the Bass Stave and also from the Tenor C Stave for the upper register.
Range is from 3rd B flat below Middle C, to the 2nd E above.

Double Bassoon, (Fagotto) from the Oboe family has a double reed mouth piece also and a conical tube. It is not transposing.
Reads from the Bass Stave, sounding an octave lower.
Range, an octave lower than the Bassoon,  the 4th B flat below Middle C, to the 1st E above.

Brass

Cornet, in B flat. This is not a common orchestral instrument but a Brass member, none the less. It is transposing, sounding a tone lower than the written music.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range is from F sharp below Middle C, to the 3rd D above.

French Horn, also known as the Corno, is a transposing instrument.  There are a number of different ones but the more common is the French Horn in F, sounding a perfect 5th lower than written.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range from 3rd B below Middle C, to the 2nd F above.

The Horn does not have a key signature, instead it has accidentals in front of the required notes.

Trumpet, also known as the Trombe, is a transposing instrument.   There are a number of different ones but here we are going to consider the Trumpet in E, sounding a major 3rd higher than written.
Reads from the Treble Stave.
Range from 1st F sharp below Middle C, to the 3rd D above.

The Trumpet does not have a key signature, instead it has accidentals in front of the required notes.

Trombone, has a ‘U’ shaped slide which when extended has seven fundamental note positions.  Each of these fundamentals have an harmonic series from which the player selects the required notes using various lip tensions.
Reads from the Bass Stave and also from the Tenor C Stave for the upper register.
Range from 2nd E below Middle C, to the B flat above Middle C.

Tuba, a transposing instrument, the two most common used are the Tenor Tuba or Euphonium, in B flat and the bass Tuba in F.
Reads from the Bass Stave.

Percussion

Kettle Drum, also known as Timpani has definate pitch.  It is shaped like a large bowl.

Bass Drum, is a large drum on it’s side.  The sound is very deep and it has indefinate pitch.

Snare Drum, is a small drum and sits flat.  It has strings placed across to give it it’s classical rattle.

Tambourine, this is a mini sized drum with just one head.  It has metal plates around the edge which rattle as the tambourine is hit by the player’s hand.

Cymbals, circular, brass, concave plates which are stroke by a soft drumstick.

Triangle, a cylindrical bar, bent into a triangular shape. It is stroke by a small metal rod.

Strings

Violin, has four strings tuned a 5th apart.
Range and strings: E, (the 2nd above Middle C), A, D and G.
Reads from the Treble Stave.

Viola, has four strings tuned a 5th apart.
Range and strings: A, (the 1st above Middle C), D, G and C.
Reads from the Alto C Stave.

Violon Cello, has four strings tuned a 5th apart.
Range and strings: A, (the 1st below Middle C), D, G and C.
Reads from the Bass Stave and Tenor C Stave.

Double Bass, has four strings tuned a 4th apart.
Range and strings: G, (the 1st below Middle C), D, A and E.
Reads from the Bass Stave.