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Which orchestral instruments are the most abundant and which are the most rare?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by RiseOfTheWooten, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Hi, I remember reading on websites and books that say that doublebasses are relatively hard to find when compared to the almost infinite number of violinists/cellists available. Would you say that is true? My impression is that trumpets and tenor/alto saxes are abundant too, with fewer numbers of baritones. And fewer french horn players.

    Has there ever an occasion where there are too many doublebassists around and too many competing for limited space in an orchestra?

    Which orchestral instruments are the most rare?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I remember hearing on the radio about a campaign in the UK to get more children to take up Double Bass and Trombone as there weren't enough coming through to fill the places needed in Orchestras.

    I go to Jazz Summerschool each year and they are always short of bass players - but always have too many sax players and pianists applying and many who don't get in each year!

  3. Yeah I remember reading somewhere a couple of years ago about the initiative to encourage people to take up the doublebass. I didn't know it also included trombones. I would've expected the initiative also included instruments like tuba and sousaphone? I don't see many of them around.

    But since there is a shortage of doublebassists, does that mean existing doublebassists do not have much trouble finding work? Especially seeing as this instrument also has ample opportunities in the jazz/pop context (compared with an instrument like the french horn or tuba, for example).

    I can't imagine what the statistics are for classical pianists, because I figure it's fair to say that there are many pianists out there but there being only one pianist required for most orchestras.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Pianists can work in other fields as well - I've seen enough of them in restaurants!! ;)

    But there are many orchestral pieces that require more than one keyboard player - like Celeste, Organ etc. in the Planets?
  5. Humph


    May 23, 2004
    Warren, NJ
    I would think that the basoon, french horn & tuba are hard instruments to find in an orchestra next to the double bass of course.
    Somebody told me that if you had a son or daughter to have them play either a basoon or french horn & they are almost guaranteed a scholarship into college.
  6. haha you have a point. Plus, the piano being practically a certified solo instrument.

    But how often does that occur? I can't imagine there being 'principle pianists' in orchestra in the same fashion as there are 'principle violinists'.

    That brings up another question I've often wondered about - are instruments like the bassoon, french horn and tuba applicable in other areas other than in an ensemble/orchestra? What other viable opportunities do bassoonists, french horn players and tuba players have besides the default options?
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I did a quick google and got these :

    "MARY BARRANGER has been the in-orchestra pianist for the San Diego Symphony since 1976 and principle pianist for the San Diego Chamber Orchestra since 1988..."

    "After returning to the United States, Ms. Rackl began her first season as the principle pianist/keyboardist for the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham, Washington, a position she continues to hold."

    "Dr. Rich's time is split between teaching and performing as principle pianist for Oregon Ballet Theatre. "

    etc. etc.
  8. Do those 'principal' positions denote 'first call' as opposed to a context where the principal, second and third pianist simultaneously sitting and performing in the orchestra in the way violinists , cellists etc do.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Who knows? But the other thing is that there is a huge demand for pianists in chamber repertoire - a lot of pieces written for solo instrument (Strings,Woodwind,Brass) plus piano accompaniment!
  10. Hm... maybe I shouldn't feel so bad for the pianists after all...
  11. In this area, there always seems to be a shortage of GOOD violists. (Notice that I say GOOD.) :D I live within 30 miles of both Washington State University and University of Idaho and both schools have strong music programs, so there tends to be an abundance of most everybody else

    Shelly :smug:
  12. They deliver pizza too! :bag:
  13. I started on trombone....and moved onto bass....gues I'm a rare man.
  14. Skeezix


    Sep 28, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Went from Sousaphone to DB.
    Am I rarer?:confused:
  15. Yes. One caliber higher.
  16. I've got one question about soprano saxophones - I often see horn players use the soprano sax as a secondary instrument, most play either the tenor or the alto as a principle. Do people use the soprano sax as a principle (besides Kenny G, that is..)?
  17. Humph


    May 23, 2004
    Warren, NJ
    alot of tenor & alto horn players play clarinet also
  18. I can easily imagine the clarinet as a principle instrument but still not the soprano sax though.
  19. Thanks, I'll look up Steve Lacy and Dave Liebman.

    I always through Wayne Shorter was predominantly a tenor player, and Sidney Bechet was predominantly a clarinet player?
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I see a lot of Sax players who don't have one main instrument - they play whatever they feel like!

    There are also orchestral wind players who play more than one instrument - allowing the orchestra to be flexible depending on the piece.