Questions tagged [orchestration]

The study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra.

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Are there any conventions or usual patterns on how brass is commonly used in classical music, precisely, in a symphonic orchestra?

I hear many people tell me that each brass instrument has its own unique timbre and one cannot be confused with another. However, I often see them used together and they seem to blend together ...
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How does swapping parts affect an arrangement

So, thinking about a typical arrangement structure, from what I know, is built from bass parts to effectively soprano ones. So within a group of instruments, let's say trumpets, you could have 4th ...
Stephen Strickland's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
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German abbreviations for instrument names in score markings (Deutsche Armeemärsche)

I'd like to know to which instruments are these signatures referring. And these parts: Additionally, I'd like to how to use this score music. This book is titled as "Particell". Does it ...
Getleft's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
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How many violins in a Mozart mass?

In several Barenreiter editions of string quartets, the indication Violino I is used to designate the first violin in the score. This makes perfect sense, as violino is the Italian singular form of ...
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What is the difference between an ensemble and a section in an orchestra?

I just got an orchestral library called Iconica by Steinberg which has ensembles, sections and players. The "players" samples are individual instruments but there are also ensembles and ...
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4 votes
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Do composers arrange an entire score without parallel perfect intervals or is this only when you have few voices and need them to all be independent?

In harmony class one is taught not to use parallel perfect intervals as it undermines the independence of the voices. I have come to completely understand this and see why it is so important but when ...
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4 votes
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Can there be five flutes in (a score for) a symphonic orchestra?

If I were to write a score for a symphonic orchestra, could I include five separate staves for five separate flutes (each one having its own unique part throughout the score) or is it forbidden in ...
brilliant's user avatar
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Multiple Voices in "Rock" Piano

I generally get the idea of "multiple voices" in music such as explained in this question and answer. Is it also correct that in modern (e.g. non-classical) music multiple voices are used to ...
Startec's user avatar
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When orchestrating, is it ok to double the melody in a middle voice?

If I have, say, a trumpet and a tenor saxophone (among a larger ensemble), and the trumpet is leading the melody in a semi-high register. Can I double it in the middle register, with the saxophone, ...
FredrikH-R's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
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How quickly can a [skilled, professional] percussionist switch between tam-tam and bass drum?

Can a professional orchestral percussionist play tam-tam and bass drum together? Could he/she position the two instruments near enough that they can played one with each hand? The passage... is loud ...
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9 votes
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Blondie's Heart of Glass shimmering cascade effect [closed]

There's a ethereal shimmering cascading effect in the background of Blondie's song "Heart of Glass" at around 0:35 minutes in (in E major) and also moments ...
D.R.'s user avatar
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What should I know before stepping into orchestral/ fantasy music composition? [closed]

I have completed grade 7 in music theory (Trinity College London syllabus). Due to certain unavoidable circumstances, I have to self-study music hereafter. My passion is to become an independent music ...
StarLight's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
114 views

How can I learn orchestration for songs (rather than for movies)? [closed]

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 ...
Ray's user avatar
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What is the largest number of parts (divisi) an instrument should have?

I often write music for orchestras, and I was wondering what is the largest number of parts I should assign to one instrument. For example, I'll often write 5 french horn parts, and sometimes up to 6 ...
violetorigin's user avatar
2 votes
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Process of melody line to orchestral music [closed]

I have a one-note melody song, like a simple folk song. I want to arrange a somewhat simple orchestral piece out of it. I do play piano and I'll be able to change it to a somewhat interesting piano ...
Ravenix's user avatar
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Match voice and different instruments in a composition [closed]

I'm trying to learn how to compose music. This is what I know so far: Music theory How to play simple songs made by others on the piano How to use various DAWs How to come up with lyrics that sound ...
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8 votes
1 answer
855 views

In what ways does (late) Romantic-era orchestration practice differ from contemporary film orchestration?

By contemporary film orchestration I mean, broadly speaking, the orchestration style of popular mainstream film composers like John Williams and James Horner. It seems to me that these 'Hollywood' ...
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Unknown instrument named in "Ondine et le pêcheur" by Paul Dukas

(Image source) What is the instrument's name, I've searched it but I can't find it. It's in the score of Ondine et le pêcheur by Paul Dukas (c. 1884, unpublished).
Sanjai S's user avatar
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Horn & Trumpet and Key Signatures

In reading from 100 Orchestration Tips by Thomas Goss, I've come across a tip which I'm perfectly happy accepting, but (perhaps as I'm not a horn player nor a trumpet player) I do not understand. 34. ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
846 views

Partially-optimized orchestra scores?

There are two different conventions I have seen for orchestra scores. In one, the full orchestra is shown on every page. Even if the flutes don't play a single note, (for example) their staff ...
nuggethead's user avatar
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How to orchestrate well? [closed]

I am starting a concerto, and one of the problems is about the orchestration. I have not studied orchestration, do not have an orchestration book, or any orchestral knowledge from a theoretical ...
Gregory's user avatar
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1 answer
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How to smoothly change between vastly different melodies [closed]

I'm starting a Concerto(Piano) and all of the problems I have come across are A: regarding the orchestration(this is my first orchestral piece) and B: the 2 subjects of the first sonata movement are ...
Gregory's user avatar
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5 votes
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Scales changes in Orchestration

There is a common technic used in orchestration across all genres of music. Sometimes in the second verse or before the singer is about to repeat another part in the song there is a move usually up in ...
Marcos Suarez's user avatar
3 votes
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793 views

Are there "left-hand" pianists that keep time with their right hand?

Typically keeping rhythm is a low-end job: bassists in a guitar band, and the left hand in playing the piano. Admittedly I know nearly nothing about playing the piano. But I thought I would ask: Are ...
Jason P Sallinger's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
245 views

how can I study orchestration methods for electric guitar?

In this post, I was given some tips on arranging electric guitars. However, I would like to do further reading on the subject (spreads, range, register, coupling, doubling, unisons, etc), and I can't ...
286642's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
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Instrument Switching Question: B flat to Bass Clarinet

I'm writing for a classical style orchestra: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, timpani, strings — two parts each, except timpani and strings. There is one spot where I think a ...
Adam Gluntz's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
641 views

Doubling notes in orchestration - inversions and extensions

Just a very quick question, because I've found similar answers about doubling notes (for instance, when arranging for four- or five-part harmony), but nothing specifically involving inversions. So, ...
pistacchio's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
115 views

When composers score for huge ensembles, how do they manage to keep track of dozens of voices at once?

Examples: Masses/Requiems (Bach, Mozart, Schumann), Scriabin's Mysterium etc. When I had to write simple four-voice chorales for music theory, I struggled to keep track of all the voices - how is it ...
user71207's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Does having both first and second violin on the same staff replace the use of div. in a symphony score?

With consideration to the general rule that when div. is presented upper notes in the music are played by the violinist sitting on the outside, and lower notes are played by those sitting on the ...
louziebaby's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
334 views

Do first violins go first even in repeating parts

During a feedback session on one of my compositions I was told that the first violins always get the first/more/better/complex notes and themes than the second violins. Even if it means that you would ...
Creynders's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
596 views

Is hocket the same as dovetailing?

Is there a difference between the two? There is quite a bit of stuff on dovetailing but I cant find much info for "hocket effect"
user71207's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
2k views

Voicing in the Finale of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique"

In the opening bars of the last movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th, the strings have some four-part writing with a melody "F# E D C# B C#." However, the score reveals that the first and second ...
angryavian's user avatar
5 votes
5 answers
2k views

Which instruments to physically familiarize with to become a better orchestrator?

Physically familiarizing with which two orchestral instruments would be a good compromise between having to buy all the instruments and gaining leverage in orchestral writing? My own opinion is ...
MahlerAdmirer's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
88 views

Is it commonplace to add further instrumentation to an already published composers work?

There's a really strange sounding instrument, similar to the one you once heard at school aged about seven in your very first music lesson. The only noise one can compare it to is the sound of horse ...
cmp's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
385 views

Note with two stems in snare drum part [Ravel's Miroir]: What is the result?

This is part of the snare drum part from Ravel's Miroirs No. 4: Alborado del Gracioso (The jester's aubade). What is the effect of both sticks playing the same note? If the sticks coincide precisely ...
Old Brixtonian's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

Do first violins take precedence over second violins for the main melody or the higher pitched part?

I know that in general within an orchestra, if the violins hold the melody it's usually the first violins which play the main melody and the second violins act as a support to them, but if the main ...
James's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
85 views

Why are keys changed away from the original in some orchestral pieces

I have noticed recently, take this piece for example, The Thieving Magpie Overture by Rossini. There seems to be several versions in different keys. Why are versions made that are different to the ...
cmp's user avatar
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12 votes
4 answers
1k views

Double basses in Beethoven's Eroica

I have just been listening to Beethoven's Eroica while following a miniature score: Eulenburg score at Amazon. I was paying particular attention to the double basses and I noticed that frequently ...
badjohn's user avatar
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-3 votes
3 answers
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What instrument(s) lend themselves to playing different dynamics rapidly? [closed]

I'm a composer. What instrument(s) would it be easiest to play parts like this on? Thinking along the lines of unpitched percussion, but I'm open to anything. For example:
Eriek's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
254 views

Layout of Instruments in Piano, Cello and Flute Trio

So I've written a trio for piano, cello and flute, but was unsure of which order vertically in each system they should go. My initial thought was that it would be highest pitched to lowest pitched - ...
Lloyd Burden's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
757 views

Two Stringed Instruments in Unison?

I have been receiving conflicting information from orchestration bigwigs. Some say that composers should never orchestrate two stringed instruments together because they will be ever so slightly out ...
Shoon's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is there a place to get scoreless film clips to practice with? [closed]

I have written a lot of pieces that I feel would fit nicely for a film or commercial and I would like to practice doing some scoring for films. Rather than filming myself, is there a website made for ...
Timinycricket's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
1k views

Trumpet type or technique?

In Wagner’s “Rule, Britannia”, the orchestration calls for two trumpets. I’ve had no luck searching for what “vent.” and “ord.” mean. “Open” and “muted”, or ...?
Nevin Williams's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
159 views

Do I need to worry about Tympani glissando here?

So I have come across another thing that some people have said about my Pathetique Sonata orchestration. That is that my tympani pitch changes are too quick and that there will be glissando on the ...
Caters's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
446 views

Should I have the time signature change from 4/4 to 2/4 or from 2/2 to 2/4?

So, I am composing another piece that involves time signature switching. I'm starting with the piano solo improvisation that I recorded and I'm thinking of expanding it from solo piano to orchestra. ...
Caters's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
3k views

Viola and Cello diamond notehead notation interpretation

I'm attempting to transcribe (for playback) Dukas' L'Apprenti Sorcier into Musescore. I don't understand what the following notation means, how it should be played, or possibly be approximated, ...
Nevin Williams's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
41 views

What authors have tried to compare a wide variety of styles, specifically with regards to orchestration?

I have never found a guide to orchestration which systematically discusses differences in the theory behind the orchestration/composition choices with regards to different typical stylistic genres, ...
lightning's user avatar
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45 votes
8 answers
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Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound?

We all know that an instrument's timbre is uniquely determined by its harmonic series. Harmonic series are also very effective in describing whether an interval is consonant or not. For example, the ...
Ma Joad's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is there a certain way to voice chords for an orchestration?

I am new to composing, and I am working on a piece for an orchestra. Currently, I am working on the string section. I have four parts so far (violin, viola, cello, double bass). I am considering ...
Lennon_Ashton's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
45 views

What is the techniques used at the beginning of "Victory" by Two Steps From Hell?

Apart from the drums and piano at the beginning of this piece, there is some kind of string arrangement happening. I'm not sure what technique is being used, it is also used in several of their other ...
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