Music Composers Unite!
Hi there, I just got paid and wanted to invest some money in books for orchestration/instrumentation.
The trouble I have is that there are a lot of good books out there and I can't decide which one to choose, especially because they aren't particularly cheap.
I was hoping to get some suggestions on which book I should buy and maybe get some pros and cons of certain books.
One book that came to my mind was "The Guide to MIDI Orchestration" by Paul Gilreath.
I like composing on Finale but at the end of the day I work much more on Cubase.
The biggest issue I have are the limits of instruments in the Orchestra and what all the possible ways of writing for them are.
It doesn't have to be something specifically for MIDI orchestration since at the end I really just want to learn how to properly write for instruments and how to make them sound interesting instead of writing normal triad chords without inversions for the strings as an example.
I find myself having the biggest issues with brass and woodwinds because of the different color these instruments bring on different octaves.
Anyways, I hope I am not reviving a dead thread on this forum by asking this question.
Also, I want to apologies for writing a huge thread instead of a short and simple one.
Thank you very much in advance for any advice.
Two books I have found helpful: Orchestration by Walter Piston, and Creative Orchestration by George Fredrick McKay. They are older, but still very relevant. I picked them up in old bookstores on the cheap, maybe you can still find them, or others. One tidbit from McKay is that strings playing mf are the standard against which other groups are measured. To balance woodwinds with strings playing mf, mark them f. Brass should be marked p when strings are mf. And so on. Similar to what Graeme said. I have 4 0r 5 other books as well, including Cecil Forsyth's classic, called Orchestration (what else). The more sources you have the better. This is something that is an acquired skill, talent won't get you very far here as you are dealing with the laws of physics. While DAWS can give you good feedback, but they can also be misleading. That's why I try to go by the book, and resist doing things that work in a DAW (like making the flutes super loud so they can be heard when in reality they wouldn't; there's just too much else going on there). So, use what you learn from the books and apply it to what you do in the DAW. Or notation software, whichever you use. Generally you will need to exercise more caution in a DAW. notation software will more accurately reflect reality.
Alfred Blatter - Instrumentation & Orchestration. Samuel Adler - Study of Orchestration. A bit expensive though. Tons of stuff on You Tube for free!
Sorry for replying so late. Unfortunately I had a quite a busy week this time.
First of all I want to thank you guys for giving me suggestions on which books I could buy.
I heard a lot about Samuel Adler's book and will most probably purchase it. I will have to wait a bit, again, to purchase a book since I will have more expenses this month that I first thought I would. Fortunately I have a great library in my city and will hopefully be able to borrow it.
Once I get a grip of the book I will let you know my thoughts about it.
Thanks again for your suggestions.
Compact and basic but useful (and cheap) is Essential Dictionary of Orchestration: The Most Practical and Comprehensive Resource for Composers, Arrangers and Orchestrators (Essential Dictionary Series) by Dave Black.
One reason I was willing to pay for the extremely expensive book The Study of Orchestration (Fourth Edition) by Samuel Adler was that the ad for it on amazon promised that "The Fourth Edition invites students to experience the instruments through online audio and video recordings and now offers more coverage of writing for band." Note: NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS!
When the book came, it had a card in it with the web site URL, a password, and instructions for setting up your access -- with NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS!
I went through the process in question, with NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS!
Then after a year, I found my access blocked, and a message that if I wanted to keep access you better give us some money, bub.
They can of course charge for their web site access if they want to. But to advertise that the extremely high price of this book includes web access with NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS! and then to include instructions for access in the book with NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS! and then to have you go through the registration process with NO INDICATION THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ACCESS! and then to spring it on you later that to keep access you have to give them still more money than the unconscionably high price they have already charged -- in other words, TO SELL YOU A TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION WHILE ALLOWING YOU TO ASSUME IT IS A PERMANENT SUBSCRIPTION --is very clearly unethical. This company ought to be ashamed of itself.
^^^ Yes, Jon, a disgusting swindle and pricey considering it's a book that's been around for quite some time. 30 years at least, surely. I saw it a while ago. It's quite good but it won't magically make anyone a wonderful orchestrator. It does seem to get tied up in too much technical at times. Rimsky-Korsakov's book published by Dover is probably as good.
The only one I had was Gordon Jacob's Orchestral Technique, bought when it cost about a fiver. It's probably available for that on abebooks. New it's even more expensive than the Adler! And for just over 100 pages! However, it suited me as I started out writing in short score and this book is about orchestrating rather than composing for orchestra. It deals with strings first then woodwinds and horns; then chamber orchestra, finishing up with brass and the full monty. It gives enough info on instruments as it goes along - compass, weaknesses, strengths. It was enough. It's big message was study scores until you can sight read - i.e. form the sound in your mind.