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Topic: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

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  1. #1
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    Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    In the Lesson 1 Dicussion thread, someone brought up the topic of orchestral position. The seating chart illustrations in the course are merely examples and "positions may vary depending on the work,the venue the orchestra and other factors". Even the same orchestra can vary their seating positions as shown below.

    The Philharmonia site provides some examples of different seating charts showing a variety of seating positions: (used by permission from Philharmonia)


    A seating layout with Triple woodwind, five horns
    and four trumpets for a strong line of brass.
    cellos right, 1st and violins stage left. Trombones right, horns left.





    A large orchestra with C. von Dohnyani's favoured position for the cellos to the left of the conductor. Note: violins are split across the stage. Trombones left rear, horns right



    Vladimir Ashkenazy's favoured layout, but with a vastly expanded orchestra.
    Quadruple wind, seven horns (stage left), piano, celeste, harp, organ, etc.!





    CVD = Christoph von Dohnyani. His favoured string seatings once again,
    but note the positions of the basses, brass and percussion. Presumably
    the hall was a factor on this occasion. Violins split across the stage, cellos left, trombones left rear (trumpets in front), horns right







    This is the seating plan for a performance of Bartˇk's Music for
    Strings, Percussion and Celeste
    which has an unusual symmetrical arrangement.




    Brahms Symphony No. 1, as laid out for Maestro von Dohnyani.






    And a CVD seating plan for quadruple woodwind.

  2. #2

    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Interesting layouts, Gary. They bear trying out, especially with the C/Basses on the left rear. Sure would like to hear some music recorded with these different stage arrangements.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Jack
    Jack Cannon--Toshiba laptop, 2.8 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB RAM, GPO4-JABB3-Auth. STEINWAY-Gofriller CELLO-Stradivari VIOLIN-COMB2-WORLD, FINALE 2009/11, RME Digiface, Cardbus, V-Stack---Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 8, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express.--MacBook Pro 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  3. #3

    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    All of these layouts are practical. The brass must ALWAYS be nearest to the exit and first to the bar, or there will be trouble, mark my words!

    BB

  4. #4
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    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by BarrieB
    All of these layouts are practical. The brass must ALWAYS be nearest to the exit and first to the bar, or there will be trouble, mark my words!

    BB
    And with the Bartok layout, the one with the grand piano in the center, the brass are practically already in the bar.

    Cool stuff Gary! Thanks and thank you Philharmonia.


    edit: that overhead shot on their link is a great photo.

  5. #5

    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Here is another great online resource for seating arrangments. This takes on a more historical perspecitve.

    http://www.dsokids.com/seatingChart/index.html

    Thanks to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the link

    Andy
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  6. #6
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    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Orchestral seating will also depend on the tyoe. Ballet and Opera orchestras are similar to symphony orchestras the size and structure. The symphony orchestra performs usually performs on a stage whereas opera and ballet orchestras are part of theatrical production and are typically seated in the orchestra pit, which is much different in configuration (and smaller).

    A chamber orchestra typically consists of 25 or fewer players. Before the 1800's most orhestras were of this size.

    A string orchestra is similar to a typical orchestral string section, with only strings and no brass, woodwind or percussion instruments. String orchestra can be the size of chamber orchestras or can be a large as a symphony orchestra.

    Quote Originally Posted by BarrieB
    All of these layouts are practical. The brass must ALWAYS be nearest to the exit and first to the bar, or there will be trouble, mark my words!

    BB
    Barrie, You found one of the unwritten rules in orchestral seating.

  7. #7

    Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    One general principle of orchestral layouts: the louder it can play, the farther back it goes. Within this principle, layouts vary by country, by hall, by conductor, by genre, by work ...
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  8. #8

    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Woodwinds are also generally tucked toward the middle.

    This isn't an acoustical concern, however. They tend to
    escape too easily if not surrounded.

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  9. #9

    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux
    Woodwinds are also generally tucked toward the middle.

    This isn't an acoustical concern, however. They tend to
    escape too easily if not surrounded.

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .
    This is similar to the reasons for boxing in the violas between the basses, trumpets and woodwinds. They tend to forget why they're there and wander off otherwise. I can say this because I have wielded a viola in anger in my dim and distant past.
    I like the story of the viola player who replaces the conductor when he falls ill. He manages to make a great job of it and conducts the orchestra for two weeks until the conductor is better. When he sits back in the section next day the guy next to him says, "So, where have you been for the last two weeks?"

    Sorry Gary, this is a serious discussion, I'm off to write out 100 times "I must not do viola jokes in the 'Principles of Orchestration On-Line' thread."

    BB

  10. #10
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    Re: Seating Positions of the Orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by BarrieB
    Sorry Gary, this is a serious discussion, I'm off to write out 100 times "I must not do viola jokes in the 'Principles of Orchestration On-Line' thread."
    Barrie,

    Let's not keep it too serious here. Learning can be enjoyable as well as disciplined.

    Gary Garritan

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