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There are various types of music stands.
Folding stands range from inexpensive, lightweight models to stronger, heavy-duty models. Metal folding stands often have solid wire extensions or metal "arms" which can be folded out to support more than two pages of music or over-size sheets. This is the kind most often used by music students. Lightweight folding stands are designed to be easily portable, so that they can be taken to rehearsals. Lightweight stands are not designed to support heavy books of music such as full-size fake books. Folding stands consist of a rack for the music and a telescoping cylindrical column for supporting the rack. The height of the column can be raised or lowered to permit the stand to be used for a seated performer or a standing performer.
Professional orchestras and big bands typically use non-portable, non-folding heavy-duty black stands so that the stands blend in with the black clothing of the musicians and are not distracting. The music holding portion of the stand may be plastic or metal with a metal column. The part supporting the music often has a shelf below it for pencils, rosin, and other accessories. The statement that these stands are "non-portable" refers to the fact that these stands do not fold or collapse and are thus rarely used by musicians travelling to rehearsals or gigs. The stands can be moved, of course, but for a full orchestra to move its 50-100 stands, which are often loaded onto a heavy rack, a moving truck and movers need to be hired to relocate the stands.
Musicians may have expensive non-folding stands in their homes or music studios made of wood. These stands are not designs to be relocated; they are intended to be used in a single location. Some heavy stands are made of carved wood and are objects of art in their own right.
Digital music stands that use a computer screen to display the music are used in the 2000s. The digital "pages" can be turned by pressing a footpedal.
Marching band members use a small sheet holder called a lyre or a clip which can be attached to an instrument.
Large, heavy duty music stands are available for conductors to hold their heavy, over-size scores of music.
American President Thomas Jefferson invented a revolving music stand.
Comparison with music desk
The term stand, as it is used to describe furniture such as a plant stand or music stand, generally implies a relatively small surface area supported at the required height, most usually by a turned leg or support known as a standard.
Any inclined surface that can be used for supporting music may be thought of a music stand, although generally this function is divided between two types of furniture: a music stand proper and a music desk.
The music stand, as the name suggests, consists of a support for the music raised upon a freestanding column or tripod, which, in addition to being movable may also be adjustable with regard to its height and the angle at which it may be tilted.
A music desk generally implies a similar, tiltable support for the music, but rather than being raised on a stand, instead forms part of a table. In as much as the term "desk" originally implied a sloping-topped table for reading or writing, the slight adjustment necessary to turn a desk into a music desk was a relatively simple matter.
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- "Music stand". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 1 March 2016.