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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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 ...
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1 vote
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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
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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).
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10 votes
4 answers
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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. ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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6 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 ...
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1 vote
3 answers
236 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, ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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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 ...
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3 votes
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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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
326 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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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"
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16 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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5 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
714 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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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:
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2 votes
2 answers
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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 - ...
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3 votes
2 answers
415 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...?
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
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3 votes
0 answers
239 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. ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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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, ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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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2 votes
3 answers
297 views

How am I supposed to orchestrate a D7 when the chordal seventh is emphasized?

This is something I have come across as I try to orchestrate Eine Kleine Nachtmusik for a symphony orchestra. A sort of harmonic ambiguity on Mozart's part. I'm talking about the chord at the repeat ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Difference between Martele & accent

I’m studying string articulations and I’m having trouble finding the difference between these off the bow articulations. Why should a composer choose to use martele in a situtuation instead of ...
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1 vote
4 answers
722 views

Writing a score in C (as it will sound)

I want to learn how to write a score for transposing instruments as it will sound (in C). I have a vague idea of how to do this, like for example, you need to know the transposing intervals of the ...
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17 votes
7 answers
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How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

I want to train myself into distinguishing the instruments being played simultaneously in orchestral music (primarily Wagner and Bruckner, maybe Mahler). Ideally I want to be able to say at each point ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Orchestration: how to know a comfortable playable speed to low register instruments?

During the orchestration of a piano piece, sometimes there are fast passages (with long intervals) in the lower register, like that Villa-Lobos "Saudades das Selvas Brasileiras" passage: Or this ...
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5 votes
4 answers
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What are the typical trumpet parts in classical music?

So I'm a pianist looking at one of my favorite concertos ever, the Rachmaninoff 2. I had been listening to some symphonic works prior to it, so for some reason I noticed that in the concerto, there ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Orchestration question: Should I change which woodwinds get which lines?

I have orchestrated the exposition of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and gotten several comments. Here I will concentrate on a single comment that I got, that the oboes are too high in bar 11. I got no ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Duplicate instruments in unison in an orchestra

Theoretically, each addition of a sound identical to the previous one results in a 6db increase in the final sound result. I ask: is that why in some orchestrations we see, for example, 6 clarinets ...
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2 votes
1 answer
211 views

Clarinets in the Rite of Spring

I am studying a miniature score of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (Dover Miniature Scores). For the clarinets, I see this in the instrumentation page: Clarinetto piccolo (D, Es) 3 Clarinetti (B, A)...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Bass clarinet notation in the Rite of Spring and other pieces

I am a clarinettist so I am a little embarrassed to need to ask this. I have not played the bass clarinet. I am looking at a miniature score of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (Dover Miniature ...
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1 vote
3 answers
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How should I write a tutti chord?

Somebody commented on my Pathetique Sonata orchestration that it is all wrong and how it is wrong. Here I will focus on the part of the comment related to tutti chords. Here is the link to my ...
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