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I am just beginning to learn composing (lots of fun so far!) and I am beginning to move from compositions for solo instruments (mainly piano) to making scores for groups/orchestras.

I have not attended a music school, and I've not yet had a chance to explore the instruments of the orchestra and what they're capable of in depth, so I am not familiar with the pitch ranges of the various instruments.

Now, while writing compositions for groups to play, it would be extremely useful for me to have a list (a cheat sheet ideally) of the various instruments in an orchestra, along with what range of notes each instrument can play. That way, while composing music, I can use that sheet to figure out what octaves a section could be played in on a specific instrument.

Does anyone know of a resource like this that is available? Or, otherwise, if I'm going about this incorrectly?

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Ideally, something like this: 2.bp.blogspot.com/-CeFhG77amIM/UbtMeTdKRkI/AAAAAAAABBQ/… but with entries for all instruments in the orchestra. –  Daniel Neel Oct 18 '13 at 23:51
    
The Jospehine Koh ABRSM Grade 5 theory handbook has them all. I can advise you to purchase that if you want the ranges of the various classical instruments. –  Neil Meyer Oct 19 '13 at 12:54
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here are two extensive resources for instrumental ranges both from Dolmetsch Organisation:

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These resources compiled from Norman Del Mar's Anatomy of the Orchestra; Gardner Read's Thesaurus of Orchestral Devices; Kent Kennan's The Technique of Orchestration; and Philip J. Lang's Scoring for the Band.

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Excellent, these are much better than the other ones I found. –  Daniel Neel Oct 25 '13 at 20:11
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The definitive source is "The Study of Orchestration" by Samuel Adler. I'm not aware of an online copy, but if you're really interested in learning as much as possible about this, you might want to pick up a copy. http://www.amazon.com/The-Study-Orchestration-Third-Edition/dp/039397572X

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Ok, I've found a set of charts with just what I'm looking for. See here: http://andrewhugill.com/manuals/ranges.html for anyone interested.

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Just looking over the trombones, I don't find them to be completely accurate -- of course, for middle-of-the-road stuff it will be fine. Sibelius and other notation software you may find yourself using will often alert you when you've written notes near the range extremes. –  NReilingh Oct 19 '13 at 1:59
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