A musical ensemble originating from as far back as the early 1600s. Orchestras vary from the traditional String Quartet (consisting of a 1st and 2nd violin, viola, and cello), to a full, Symphonic Orchestra.
A Symphonic Orchestra normally consists of 4 families:
- The String family; violins, violas, cellos, and basses.
- The Brass family; trombones, trumpets, tubas, french horns, etc.
- The Woodwind family; single-reed instruments (saxophones, clarinets, the english horn, or "cor anglais"), and double-reed instruments (bassoon, and contrabassoon).
- The Percussion family; piano, tympani, snare drums, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone.
And of course, a Symphonic Orchestra always has a conductor, normally armed with the traditional "baton", a stick, normally white, used to conduct the beat of the song, and give cues.
A string quartet/quintet, also known as a Chamber Orchestra, has no conductor, and normally the 1st violinist cues the group. These small ensembles are responsible for a genre of music called "Chamber Music", music that is normally played within a home, or other small area, as opposed to an auditorium or major recital hall. Most high school orchestras are, in fact, Chamber Orchestras, normally quintets, consisting of several 1st violins, several 2nd violins, a much less number of violas, an almost equal number of cellos, and anywhere from 3 to 4 basses.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra, Venice Symphony Orchestra, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Venice High Chamber Orchestra.