What is Orchestra – Troubleinthepeace


LTS: Recently on social networks, there was a heated debate, in which the understanding of what is an “orchestra” seems to be very limited. The editorial board of webgiaidap.com would like to introduce the article of Master Nguyen Bach on this issue.

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Th.S. Nguyen Bach

Different combinations of musicians are called by different terms, mainly based on factors: organization of personnel, composition of instruments and genres of music performed. We often see the words: orchestra (orchestra), band (band), ensemble (music group) and combo (small band). In Vietnamese there are no words corresponding to each of these terms and the Vietnamese name we use is just a rough translation.


Latin: “orchestra” for the space from the front of the stage to the seats of honor (first row in the theater)

Thus, the term orchestra associated with the concept of “performance, stage”. If we have a large group of musicians that do not include these two concepts, we cannot call it a collective. orchestra Okay. For example, no one would call a guitar club made up of many members a “guitar orchestra”; or in 2011, people gathered 1,000 saxophone players to perform together to record in the Australian Guiness book, but not calling it a “saxophone orchestra”, but simply calling it “1,000 saxophones”.

The event of nearly 1,000 people playing saxophone in Australia in 2011 to record a record was simply called “1,000 saxophone trees”, not an orchestra.

In terms of structure, the orchestra has traditionally been composed of components (called ) set) after: wood (woodwind)copper (brass)type (percussion) and rope (strings). In contemporary music, people also use the term orchestra informally as the case Boston Pop Orchestra (Boston Pops Orchestra) specializes in playing contemporary pop or light classical music.

In terms of size, an orchestra usually has between 75 and 100 musicians. For quantity less than 50 we have chamber orchestra. However, in general, one can still call it “orchestra” for short instead of “chamber orchestra”.

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In Saigon from before 1975 up to now, in addition to the orchestras belonging to the military and state systems, there are only a very few private orchestras, most of which have religious colors (Sacred Music Today) with orchestras. Some orchestras are still in existence, there are orchestras that are temporarily closed, there are also orchestras that are being restored such as: CTM Orchestra, Suoi Viet Orchestra, etc. More than a year ago, there was the birth of the Vietnam Harmonica Orchestra (Viet). Nam Harmonica Orchestra – VNHO) was founded and operated by journalist cum harmonica player Hoang Manh Ha, under the direction of conductor Nguyen Bach. This is an organization that is part of the BACH School of Music. In terms of terminology, structure, and scale as mentioned above, VNHO is an orchestra specializing in performing many different types of music arranged for components: 30 – 50 harmonicas divided into two parts; 1 bass harmonica, 1 chord harmonica, 1 guitar, 2 – 6 violins, 1 piano and 1 double bass. The staff of this orchestra is open type so that it can be combined with many other instruments depending on the needs of the score.

The Vietnam Harmonica Orchestra (VNHO) performed at Hoa Sen University on the occasion of King Charlot’s birthday.


We often see groups (ensemble) classical chamber with 4 (quartet), 5 (quintet), 6 (sextet), 7 (septet), or 8 (octet) instruments. If there were more, we could use the word orchestra (orchestra). Usually a small orchestra with 15 to 30 members (including string, wood, and brass instruments) is called . chamber orchestra (chamber orchestra).

One sinfonietta (rough translation: small symphony orchestra) is an orchestra that is slightly larger than the chamber orchestra, but a bit smaller orchestra (symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra). A symphony orchestra is not only large but also full-size instrumental components. It usually consists of at least 30 to a hundred musicians in four sets (strings, percussion, brass, and wood).

In addition to the instruments of the above 4 sets, depending on the type of music being performed, one can add some other instruments. For example, when performing works of the baroque period (17th century and first half of 18th century), people often use the clavecin or organ to play the accompaniment or continuo. When the orchestra plays Romantic pieces (from the 19th century), the harp or some other unusual instrument may be used. In the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, special instruments such as electric guitars, saxophones, even mu, Vietnamese drums are used in the orchestra (in the case of the CTM orchestra) or the harmonica (in the case of VNHO), even People even use electronic synthesizers as in the case of Yanni’s orchestra with keyboard and synthesizer user Ming Freeman (Taiwan).

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Orchestras are increasingly developed, expanded or narrowed, depending on the type of music one wants to perform. We do not have a fixed and formal institution for the concept of an orchestra. However, it is necessary to make a clear distinction so as not to confuse the concepts orchestra (orchestra), band (band), band (ensemble), and small band (combo).


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