On the Size and Seating of an Orchestra (1990)

Steve Reich

in Writings on Music 1965–2000

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195151152
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850044 | DOI:
On the Size and Seating of an Orchestra (1990)

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This chapter presents Reich's thoughts on how the size and seating of an orchestra affects performance. By trial and error, he has come to the conclusion that when writing for orchestra, he generally needs no more than 12 first violins and an overall string force of about 48 players—the size of a full classical as opposed to romantic orchestra. As a general principle, the fewer players there are on stage, the more intense the concentration. He also encourages all composers to rethink the orchestra in terms of forces and placement in order to best realize their musical ideas.

Keywords: string force; performance; size; seating; orchestra

Chapter.  814 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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