Orchestras have recently picked up a modern instrument

Have orchestras recorded a modern instrument lately?

The biggest thing you have to understand about an orchestra is that it works "at a loss".

To have a successful orchestra, you need to be able to have donors, ticket sales, and subscriptions.

The donors make up most of the substance of the money. Subscriptions come second and ticket sales come last.

On the other end (money out), you have to pay staff, musicians, etc. for the time to practice, perform, and improve their skills. Being a professional musician at the orchestral level is more than anything a lifestyle.

So now you've got a lot of money in, big money in "business" that doesn't make any money of its own. Most orchestras only struggle to "survive", but even "thriving" can only mean breaking even.

So the question arises, what do you need to be able to play a wide variety of music choices. Would you donate $ 10,000 to an orchestra that couldn't play Beethoven's 5? How about one who couldn't play the Star Wars opening theme? What about something like Vivaldi's Four Seasons?

Ok, now you have a pretty solid list of players to pay for. You have your strings, your drums, your brass and your woodwinds.

Now need a trumpeter. Guess what's out of this, so we can afford 4 trumpets at around $ 70,000 each. The better more, the less qualified, but around $ 70,000 on average.

We should have some french horns. Hmmm, you're staring at the lower end of around $ 100,000. Arrg. Ok let's get 1.

Now we're going to get an oboist. Many of them again, starting around $ 62,000. Let's get 4.

You know what. I want to play a piece by Zelda, Link awakes. I need an ocarina player. Hmm, there are only three of those in the whole world, and the only one who wants a full-time gig wants $ 1,200 a year. Hmmm, let's rewrite the ocarina part for clarinet. WOOT $ 36ka year. I still only need one, but wow, that was better than $ 1,200,000.

And so on.

Most pieces require a similar set of instruments. Pieces that require "special" instruments can be arranged so that they are not needed. So I don't have to pay a whole year to play just 1 piece.

If this year's schedule has 30 different pieces and they all have the same instrumentation, that's great. If 29 pieces have the same instrumentation and 1 piece needs something special, maybe I should reconsider this one piece.

In the real world, most pieces have mostly the same instrumentation. It's generally close enough to pay for the 4th trumpet to just play the 3rd part with the 3rd instrument on the 4 pieces that only have 3 parts. But a strange / new instrument that is only available for one piece? What should they do the rest of the time?

This is all the more true if the piece the new instrument is playing is part of a concert that is only given once or twice a year.

The inclusion of this player in the orchestra becomes a waste of money. It is better to hire them for just this one performance. However, this can be very expensive.

While an orchestra may not be actively relinquishing new instruments. Also, it doesn't make a lot of sense to have a player in the books who isn't going to appear in many plays. Better as a "guest" than as a "member".

Most orchestras, however, are more than willing to have "new" instruments to replace old ones. But an electric violin doesn't sound like an "acoustic" one. Sound is everything in music, so ...

Would you like to hear a MIDI keyboard over a grand piano?

No, completely new instruments just wouldn't get enough playing time to be worth the cost, while new versions of old instruments are more accepted, they don't sound the same either, and that's important. Taken together, this means that orchestra companies tend to prefer the same (rigid) set of instruments.


+1. Very convincing. And that without a set of percussion instruments. Not a lot of drums. The players have their own and are happy to take them to concerts. Then there is the transport in pantechnicons. The list goes on. The orchestra players I know can't raise $ 70,000 a year. Maybe they should emigrate! Hiring deps or odd players is a good way to go, but as you say there isn't a lot of phone call, not a lot of music anyway. Sad but true.

to the left

Unfortunately you are right. I wonder how it could change if classical musicians (other than soloists) didn't focus so much on an instrument to perfect and learn a little piano and singing on the side, but instead two different instruments for orchestra . In particular, if every string player could also play a modern instrument, orchestras would be much more flexible.


Only three ocarina players in the whole world! Impressive. I knew a man who was really good at the ocarina, but sadly he died a few years ago. I have one, but I'm not really good at playing it - but for that kind of money, I might try my best.

Some guy

Great points in general, but I think Ocarina is a pretty bad example. Hiring a decent ocarina player is much cheaper than hiring a horn player. There are no real requirements on the imprint to play the ocarina. If you really want to include an ocarina in an orchestral performance, you can find someone of a good enough level pretty cheaply. Hell, just take the most open-minded woodwind player and give him / her a few months to learn how to double-on the pipe a la James Galyway on the LOTR soundtrack


"Pieces that require" special "instruments can be arranged so that they are not needed." Only really for amateur performances, because if the piece is written for this instrument, it will usually not sound the same on any other instrument. Therefore, the players of these instruments are adjusted as needed. The James Bond theme is a perfect example of this - it just won't sound "right" without this electric guitar. "It is better to hire them for just this one service, but it could be very expensive." You're wrong - that's exactly how it's done because it's cheaper.