Factfile 6

Finally we are going to take a look at the orchestra that Benjamin Britten creates for his opera.
The orchestra is built from a core of professional players, who play certain sections of the opera alone as a group. We will call this group the Professional Ensemble.
The Professional Ensemble is made up of a String Quartet: two violins, viola and cello, plus a double bass.
In addition we have one professional percussionist, who plays the timpani.

The rest of the orchestra is made up of players who enjoy playing but do not earn money from their playing … they are amateurs, and they form the Ripieno orchestra, or ‘remaining’ orchestra.
The Ripieno is formed from the following:
1st violins
2nd violins
3rd violins
violas
cellos
double bass
Percussion
4 bugles (played in our production by Trumpet players)
Hand Bell ringers
Recorders
Why don’t you look at the excellent Phiharmonia website that looks at the different instruments in the orchestra. There is so much to explore on this site, so make the most of it!!

The String section of the Noye’s Fludde Ripieno Orchestra has three sections of violins and two of cellos. This is because Britten wanted many different abilities of player to enjoy the experience. So there are parts for players who haven’t been learning long, and also very advanced players.
This is such a wonderful way to have one’s first experience of playing in an orchestra … sitting next to more advanced players who can support you and inspire you. In our production we have players from seven years of age up to their mid seventies … how special is that?!!

If you enjoy learning about orchestras, why not take a look at this other excellent website from Britten 100. Here you can listen to another piece of music written by Benjamin Britten his ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ You can also meet members of the orchestra who played on the recording and follow the quiz to see how much you have learned ...
… so which instrument is your favourite? … which variation do you like the most??
Why not share some of your new knowledge with your friends and you can learn together ...

Andy Barclay and his section

Andy Barclay and his section

We can’t leave the Factfile on the orchestra topic without looking at the wonderful Percussion section for the opera …
Benjamin Britten created a fabulous Percussion section for Noye, with all sorts of clever sound effects.
The section is led by a professional player, in our case we are very lucky to have the Principal Percussionist of the London Philharmonia Orchestra, Andy Barclay.
Andy is joined by Arty, Nick, Rhia, Stan and Alex ...
Throughout the opera there is plenty of Timpani, played by Andy … these are the big kettle drums that you see in the orchestra, they are tuned to different pitches according to what key the music is in.
We also have cymbals, side drum, Bass drum, triangle, wood blocks, a whip … then we have blocks with sand paper to create a certain kind of rhythmic scratchy sound … we also have a very special clothes line with mugs suspended … each mug is a slightly different size and makes a different sound when struck … they are ‘tuned’ to form a kind of arpeggio and they are played at the beginning of the terrifying storm to represent the raindrops very effectively. Finally we have a ‘wind machine.’

Wind Machine

Wind Machine

We are very lucky to have Nick in the section. Nick is absolutely brilliant at making things, and he has made a stunning wind machine for the production, which he will’play’ at the height of the storm scene … it sounds amazing!

Here is a great link for making sound effects, including a wind machine…maybe you could have a go … and maybe you could experiment with all sorts of different sounds to see what special effects you could create … it really is great fun making percussion instruments!!