An orchestra is a name for a large ensemble of musicians playing a composed piece on acoustic or electronic instruments. Types of orchestra music are usually associated with the type of orchestra playing the music. Common types of orchestras include chamber orchestras, string orchestras, or symphonic orchestras. Orchestral music for educational groups often comes in specific types to suite each type of orchestra. Sometimes, the music is written for orchestras made mostly of one instrument, like string orchestras, which contain primarily instruments like violins, violas, and cellos.
Generally, a standard symphonic orchestra has groups of woodwinds, brass instruments, percussion, and string instruments. Many symphonic orchestras also have pianos or organs. Percussion for this type of music almost always contains more than one timpani, a large drum that makes a familiar boom used in many types of orchestral music. Most orchestras have about 100 players. Significantly smaller orchestras with the same proportions of instruments are usually called chamber orchestras.
Orchestra music has changed a great deal throughout the years, so there are many types of orchestra music. The first orchestra music theoretically started with 1600s opera, but over time, many styles of music for the developing types of orchestras developed. Consistently popular types of orchestral music include classical, baroque, and chamber music. Orchestras are frequently used in radio hits to add an air of acoustic drama to popular music. In 1950s, which was a high point in the popularity of this type of music, orchestras were a primary source of background music in many films and television programs.
Sometimes, an orchestra full of learning musicians needs a simple piece that is free of overly challenging passages. Simplified musical pieces provide an attainable musical goal for student musicians to strive for when they are preparing for their first public musical performances. Orchestral music can also be written to suit the musicians in an orchestra, with special musical compositions written or adapted for a particular age group or musical skill set. This type of music is most common in school orchestras. Easy compositions can be used for orchestras with many young members or beginners.
Though orchestra music is most often played by acoustic instruments, contemporary composers often include synthesizers and other electronic instruments in their musical compositions. Though synthesizers are usually an accent in a large orchestra with other instruments, some orchestras contain only electronic instruments. One example of this type of orchestra is a Moog orchestra, a type of synth orchestra made with analog synthesizers manufactured by a man named Robert Moog.