Following many of the titles in our Wind Ensemble catalog, you will see a set of numbers enclosed in square brackets, as in this example:
The first number stands for Flute, the second for Oboe, the third for Clarinet, the fourth for Bassoon, and the fifth (separated from the woodwinds by a dash) is for Horn. Any additional instruments (Piano in this example) are indicated by “w/” (meaning “with”) or by using a plus sign.
Sometimes there are instruments in the ensemble other than those shown above. These are linked to their respective principal instruments with either a “d” if the same player doubles the instrument, or a “+” if an extra player is required. Whenever this occurs, we will separate the first four digits with commas for clarity. Thus a double reed quartet of 2 oboes, english horn and bassoon will look like this:
- Duo – Flute Clarinet – or [1010-0]
- Trio – Flute, Oboe Clarinet – or [1110-0]
- Quartet – Flute, Oboe, Clarinet Bassoon – or [1111-0]
- Quintet – Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon Horn – [or 1111-1]
Brass Instrumentation Codes
Following many of the titles in our Brass Ensemble catalog, you will see a set of five numbers enclosed in square brackets, as in this example:
The bracketed numbers tell you how many of each instrument are in the ensemble. The first number stands for Trumpet, the second for Horn, the third for Trombone, the fourth (separated from the first three by a dot) for Euphonium and the fifth for Tuba. Any additional instruments (Tympani in this example) are indicated by a “w/” (meaning “with”) or by using a plus sign.
Thus, the Copland Fanfare shown above is for 3 Trumpets, 4 Horns, 3 Trombones, no Euphonium, 1 Tuba and Tympani. There is no separate number for Bass Trombone, but it can generally be assumed that if there are multiple Trombone parts, the lowest part can/should be performed on Bass Trombone.
Titles listed in our catalog without bracketed numbers are assumed to use “Standard Instrumentation.” The following is considered to be Standard Instrumentation:
- Brass Duo – Trumpet Trombone, or 
- Brass Trio – Trumpet, Horn Trombone, or 
- Brass Quartet – 2 Trumpets, Horn Trombone, or 
- Brass Quintet – 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone Tuba, or 
- Brass Sextet and greater – No Standard Instrumentaion
String Instrumentation Codes
Following many of the titles in our String Ensemble catalog, you will see a set of four numbers enclosed in square brackets, as in this example:
These numbers tell you how many of each instrument are in the ensemble. The first number stands for Violin, the second for Viola, the third for Cello, and the fourth for Double Bass. Thus, this string quartet is for 2 Violas and 2 Cellos, rather than the usual 2110. Titles with no bracketed numbers are assumed to use “Standard Instrumentation.” The following is considered to be Standard Instrumentation:
Orchestra & Band Instrumentation Codes
Following some titles in our Orchestra Band catalogs, you will see a numeric code enclosed in square brackets, as in these examples:
The system used above is standard in the orchestra music field. The first set of numbers (before the dash) represent the Woodwinds. The set of numbers after the dash represent the Brass. Percussion is abbreviated following the brass. Strings are represented with a series of five digits representing the quantity of each part (first violin, second violin, viola, cello, bass). Other Required and Solo parts follow the strings:
Principal auxilary instruments (piccolo, english horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, wagner tuba, cornet euphonium) are linked to their respective instruments with either a “d” if the same player doubles the auxiliary instrument, or a “+” if an extra player is required. Instruments shown in parenthesis are optional and may be omitted.
The Beethoven example is typical of much Classical and early Romantic fare. In this case, the winds are all doubled (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets and 2 bassoons), and there are two each horns and trumpets. There is no low brass. There is tympani. Strings are a standard 44322 configuration (4 first violin, 4 second violin, 3 viola, 2 cello, 2 bass). Sometimes strings are simply listed as “str,” which means 44322 strings.
The second example is common for a concert band or wind ensemble piece. This ficticious work is for 2 flutes (plus piccolo), 1 oboe, 3 clarinets plus alto and bass clarinets, 2 bassoons, 5 saxes (soprano, 2 altos, tenor bari), 2 trumpets (plus 2 cornets), 3 trombones, euphonium, tuba, tympani, percussion and double bass. Note the inclusion of the saxes after bassoon for this band work. Note also that the separate euphonium part is attached to trombone with a plus sign. For orchestral music, saxes are at the end (see Saxophones below. It is highly typical of band sets to have multiple copies of parts, especially flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet, trombone percussion. Multiples, if any, are not shown in this system. The numbers represent only distinct parts, not the number of copies of a part.
In the third example, we have a rather extreme use of the system. It is an orchestral work for piccolo, 2 flutes (1 of whom doubles on piccolo), 1 oboe, 2 clarinets plus an additional bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets (plus an optional 2 cornets), 3 trombones, no tuba, percussion, tympani, 6 first violins, 6 second violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses, Eb clarinet (as an additional chair, not doubled), 5 saxes (soprano, 2 alto, tenor baritone) a trombone soloist.
Note: This system lists Horn before Trumpet. This is standard orchestral nomenclature. Unless otherwise noted, we will use this system for both orchestra and band works (in most band scores, Trumpet precedes Horn, and sometimes Oboe Bassoon follow Clarinet). Also, it should be noted that Euphonium can be doubled by either Trombone or Tuba. Typically, orchestra scores have the tuba linked to euphonium, but it does happen where Trombone is the principal instead.
Saxophones, when included in orchestral music (they rarely are) will be shown in the “other instrument” location after strings and before the soloist, if any. However for band music, they are commonly present and therefore will be indicated after bassoon as something similar to “SAATB” where S=soprano, A=alto, T=tenor and B=baritone. Letters that are duplicated (as in A in this example) indicate multiple parts.