I'm looking for tips and guidelines to learn orchestration for music (not a recommendation for a specific product or anything like that).

I'm talking about songs or performances that were completely arranged for an orchestra and not just an ordinary song that was accompanied by an orchestra as an embellishment.

My best example which demonstrates it the best is:

Frank Sinatra - It was a very good year

These performances have different character than orchestrations for movies and probably like in most types of orchestrations there is the role of each section, for example, I've learned that some instruments accompany as chords in triads, some are better for solos or sometimes playing as two instruments in an interval of a fifth, sometimes the flute will go together with a piccolo and so on..

These "rules" or musical motives are not so common to come by and learn online but maybe it's possible.

In addition, when orchestrating for songs there are also all kinds of runs and twirls which is even harder knowledge to find online.. I was also looking for orchestration scores so I could learn by reading the notes but I could hardly find any.

The above video shows a very nice score transcription for this song.

Many Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Hi! Your penultimate paragraph is asking for this question to be closed, because it's asking for recommendation. Maybe you should try to rephrase your question in order to avoid that!
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 6:53
  • 1
    There's no difference between orchestrating for songs and just orchestrating. The technique is the same. You need to learn what things sound like. You need to learn what a flute and a piccolo SOUND like: in unison (high and low), an octave apart, with one of them sustaining each note and the other not etc. Get the score of Strauss's Death and Transfiguration and a recording of it. Get a program that lets you loop any section of an audio file and listen to that loop again and again until you can hear each instrument. Then loop the next section... It isn't a question of learning "rules". Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 13:56
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    ...Please read my answer to this question. Bits of it might apply here. BTW, It was good to hear that arrangement again I always liked it. It is simple and economical. That's a good transcription (apart from bar 17 where the 1st clarinet's trill needs a flat-sign over it) and it might be useful: I see he's selling copies for £10. You should buy one: it's much better to have a printed copy. Please forget those rules: they're misleading. Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 14:06
  • Thanks for the valuable tips @Old Brixtonian and an impressive catch for the 1st clarinet's trill. I'll buy it and do as you said. 🙏 I just wish there were more like that one but I can't find many.
    – Ray
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 18:54
  • @Ray: Arrangements probably are hard to find. But composers are also arrangers! And it's easy to find scores online (Ravel's Bolero, Peter and the Wolf, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, Janacek's Mladi sextet...) and to loop the music till you can distinguish each instrument. Even if classical music's not your favourite type, with a bit of imagination I think someone could learn how to arrange this way. Remember how hard Berlioz and those guys had to work! Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 8:21


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