Here, the Philharmonia's expert players guide you through the intricacies of the instruments they play. Choose an instrument from one of the sections.
The string section is the basis of the orchestra and the one consistent component of orchestras down the ages. The range of expression available and the great stamina of strings makes them a powerful tool. The Principal of the First Violin section is also the Leader of the orchestra.
The wind section is traditionally known as the woodwind section even though not all the instruments are made of wood (for example the saxophone is made of metal). The woodwind section usually includes flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons. Saxophones are less commonly used.
The traditional line-up of the brasses is: Horns, Trumpets, Trombones, Tubas. The numbers and combinations of these instruments vary greatly according to historical period, geographical location and, of course, composer choice. Horns are often used in combination with woodwind, and generally have a weaker sound than the other brass.
The percussion section includes any number of instruments from timpani to tubular bells and from castanettes to congas. The variety of instruments is enormous, however they do fall into two main groups: tuned percussion and untuned percussion.