why do orchestras need music sheets but rock bands don’t?


Don’t they practice? is the conductor really necessary?

In: 6359

Lots of reasons. Orchestra players can’t always hear what the rest of the players are doing so a conductor and sheet music helps them stay in the same place. Conductor also “mixes” the sound telling sections to get louder or quieter so the whole volume is at the level it’s intended to be.

Rock music is a little easier to memorize than orchestral music. Usually, rock music is simple chords repeated with some guitar or drum solos. Rock music also allows for ad lib playing and songs are often played differently each time.

Orchestra music is often longer and more complicated than rock music, meaning it is harder to memorize. Orchestras also play music by composers that doesn’t allow for improvisation and usually is played as close to the original score as possible. Orchestras are often much larger than rock bands and having sheet music and a director help keep everyone together while playing the song.

Those are just a few reasons and differences between the two, I’m sure other people can list some more points I’ve missed or didn’t think.

Rock bands have a closed set of material they slowly expand on. Orchestras play any music you set in front of them, several different pieces every performance, different performances every year, usually a big selling point of orchestral concerts is them choosing pieces rarely or never played by them before. It’s a ton more material to memorize and then they don’t need it memorized shortly thereafter.

There can be 100 people in a symphony orchestra. All those people can’t necessarily hear the folks promptly from the other side of the stage. The conductor is central, and keeps everyone together rhythmically and expressively. The music is much longer and much more complex, played by all acoustic instruments each of whom has different musical roles and parts to play that all come together like a mosaic. Also, the repertoire, the amount of large, complicated pieces of music is so large it would be nearly impossible to memorize all those parts, hence needing sheet music. It takes a lot of vigorous personal practice and group rehearsal to coordinate just one orchestral piece, and multiple pieces like this are on just one concert.

1. Orchestrated music is complicated. There are many moving parts which need to fit together, and while parts can be memorized (and often are), the music is used as reference to ensure accuracy and to support certain cues (e.g. louder, softer, certain tonality) as indicated by the conductor

2. Rock music is often simpler and cues are developed by the musicians themselves to fit the music they are playing. Rock musicians will often develop their own style which they can replicate effectively and extensively over time without needing to see the music.

3. Orchestral music is usually not written by the musicians playing it. As a result, accuracy to the piece is highly valued. Improvisation is often not welcome. The purpose of the piece is to meet what the composer wanted it to sound like, not what the performers want it to sound like. And many orchestral pieces are well known as originally composed, so it can be noticeable to fans and performers when something is off

4. Rock music is written by the musicians themselves. Accuracy is less necessary as is an overall “sound”. Furthermore, as stage performers who are often moving around, improvisation and displaying outright talent is often welcome and encouraged.

5. Difference in training and styles. Rock music is a more “loose” style and has historically been taught/learned in that manner. Orchestra music has always been a very formal thing and has been taught as such.