European music depends on several notes to be played together. The only commonly found instruments that can do it by themselves are the piano and guitar. All others are meant to be played in an ensemble to make musical sense. Look at all the notes that are played simultaneously by the guitar in Gounod’s Ave Maria
It takes a string orchestra to get the same number of lines as you heard in the last piece with two violin parts, a viola and cello. Watch and listen to Bach’s Air On A G String to see the number of simultaneous parts.
The main ensemble for strings is the string orchestra. It consists of vioins, violas, (violon)cellos and double basses in the proportions seen in this graph below.
Thus it can be seen if there are 20 violins in an orchestra, there should be 10 cellos to balance them. Instruments with asterisk are highly desired and are often chosen for music scholarships in private schools This is a fine string orchestra of 13 to 17 year old players
The Symphonic Orchestra consists of a string orchestra with added wind and percussion players Here is another fine orchestra, but this time it is a symphonic orchestra
The strings are not limited to the straight classical. European culture has a long and rich heritage of string playing that is now included in the modern folk movement. Fiddle (another name for violin) tunes used for dancing and handed down by ear through the generations. This form of playing gives rise to improvisation a little like the jazz players, as tunes are added together and changed to make them long enough to dance to. The ensembles that perform are flexible too, and often include double bass, squeeze box, guitar, drums. The Irish dance below is found wherever the Irish emigrated to. Here it is heard in America.
Click Here for fees and further information