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Writings on Music 1965–20001965-2000$
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Steve Reich and Paul Hillier

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151152.001.0001

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On the Size and Seating of an Orchestra (1990)

On the Size and Seating of an Orchestra (1990)

41 On the Size and Seating of an Orchestra (1990)
Writings on Music 1965–2000

Steve Reich

Oxford University Press

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

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