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Hi, I'm new to this forum although I have been a member for a while now- just not had chance to come on here since I joined. As my first post hello to all! :-) I'm posting three original tracks. I write pop and rock music but for many years I always wanted to learn about writing for the orchestra but after searching the internet for resources I never seemed to really find anything that helpful. My understanding is that most really good instructive resources are degree/education courses and so are closed to public access. Links and advice to any books or sites would be greatly appreciated.


Here are my first efforts at moving towards that soundscape. It's pre-production. I'm working on re-recordings for a band album at the moment.

That Old Alchemy
https://soundcloud.com/pearldivers/that-old-alchemy-wip

Smoking Gun
https://soundcloud.com/pearldivers/smoking-gun-wip-060417

Whiskey with Sioux
https://soundcloud.com/pearldivers/whiskey-with-sioux-master

Thanks,

monks

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"My understanding is that most really good instructive resources are degree/education courses and so are closed to public access. Links and advice to any books or sites would be greatly appreciated."

I'm happy to say your understanding is wrong in this case! A course would probably focus time and knowledge together most efficiently, perhaps offering some practical experience which is always great, but a great deal of the stuff therein can be found for free, often from institutions offering courses in the first place. Aside from asking people here, which has yielded a trove of info for me, there's:

http://www.music.indiana.edu/departments/academic/composition/style... - useful for layouts
http://www.music.indiana.edu/department/composition/isfee/ - absolutely invaluable for individual instrument strengths, weaknesses, articulations
http://andrewhugill.com/manuals/woodwinds.html - similar to above, little less polished
http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page - scores and parts from the last few hundred years

There are many others ranging from specific instruments to vagaries of notation, google has turned up more than I can remember.

Untold videos on youtube about orchestration, scoring, arrangement, etc . . .

Many high-profile and talented musicians, composers, conductors on Twitter - I've had great advice and feedback from some of them. Grant Kirkhope sent me some scores to study, Austin Wintory answered a dynamics question, David Charles Abell helped me out with some score problems.

The more specific your difficulties the easier it gets: "Why is this timpani part too complex" is simpler than "how do I arrange chords and melody for full orchestra." Be persistent. Start small. Make many mistakes.

Specific steps that were cornerstones of my improvement, though everyone's process is different:
 - Be prepared to put in serious time.
 - Hire an orchestrator to check your scores and ask as much as you can. You could do the same via the above resources, but hiring someone for a couple (or dozen) of hours will condense a lot of first-time errors.
 - Study scores and try to break them down. Traditions change, a lot of rules get broken by the greats and they have their own ways but you'll strengthen your knowledge.
 - The more you write, the more chances for feedback and uncovering mistakes you'll find.
 - In terms of what the instruments can do - however good older orchestration books might be, I don't think anything compares to being able to watch and hear a musician. Go watch performances.
 - Further down the line, invest in musicians (or persuade them for free) to see how your music is interpreted in the wild.
 - Use this forum, though you'll have to take the rough with the smooth on occasion. Some members are professionals, ex-professionals or otherwise really know their shit. That said, composers are about the worst audience.

C'mon lads, let's bury Carl in links!

Thanks very much for the response and the links!I shall check them all out. Good news Dave that the resources are out there. After watching the videos to violin performances it seems that detache is the 'standard' way of playing...right? Getting a realistic sounding string section with samples and midi is a labour intensive process. I still hear adverts on the TV where I immediately know that it's using samples :-D Access to real musicians is way out of my reach I'm afraid. I do have a few study scores- I bought Ride of the Valkyries recently to look at what the strings were doing- all working together to produce that amazing result. Bob, the tracks are pre-production so yes, the vocals are a bit cockahoop anyway..I had a limited set of takes and had to process them way too much.Even knowing the right nomenclature is difficult. It's only because I studied for a diploma that I'm aware of terms such as 'instrumentation' and 'orchestration' etc. I know about things such as consecutive octaves and fifths...but I'm thinking that that's become less of strict rule in modern composition...it's an ear perception thing anyway since those intervals jump out of the 'mix'. A quick search no doubt would clarify things. I imagine it's still good practice. The e-book from DAW to score looks good Mike, but I'm going to have to buy a copy of Sibelius. The demo version I have would hold me back. I've have it in mind for a wee while to set up a virtual orchestra. I've squirrelled around and found recommendations on the best sample libraries. I use Kontakt and Vienna Instruments. I think there are samples for Sibelius as well...it's a bit of a mine field sourcing compatible DAWs and samples. I think having it all under Sibelius would probably be the easiest option. Whether it would provide the best sample sets is another matter. I'm not really clued up as to what works with what out there. I used to have Cubase but my license expired and I miss the scoring capabilities. But again...maybe that's duplicating the feature in Sibelius. My experience is that Sibelius is the best for scores, but I've not seen the latest releases of Cubase. Ideally I'd like a DAW like Cubase running Sibelius as a plugin or something.

It shares a couple of chords but to me is otherwise completely dissimilar. As for Morricone, I've recorded music in that style; he more or less invented that genre so you're compelled to sound like something he already wrote to capture that Western flavour. In terms of progressions and instrumentation you're limited.

Nikola said:

Isn't 'That Old Alchemy' simply a plagiarism of 'One Day i'll Fly Away' by Randy Crawford?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0C5IG3FCA0

'Smoking Gun' sounds very much like something I already heard from Morricone.

It's based on D-Em in approximately the same tempo. There the similarity ends; the memorable melody of "Fly Away" isn't even in the D-Em verses and there's no similarity to it in Carl's song. As for Morricone, his best-known work owes a lot to surf music so it's not as if he conjured it from nothing.

Pretty heavy stuff, accusing a new member of plagiarism with basically no reasonable argument to back it up. Sorry, Carl. We're not all like Nikola.


Nikola said:

'Smoking Gun' reminds me more of music from some gangster movie. Considering that I was listening to more than 400 of Morricone soundtracks I'm able to recognize some similarities, but I guess it's only that - a similarity with some James Bond flavor.

On the other hand 'Alchemy' sounds like pretty much obvious plagiarism of 'Fly Away' song. That's what musicians who like to plagiarize do - they take the main melodic/harmonic idea and change it a bit, so they can escape being sued, but basically it is the same song with almost same chord progressions. 

I guess it's allowed only to steal in blues since all blues sound the same and generic and nobody actually gives a s**t about that. 

But in memorable and original songs with catchy melodies like 'Fly Away' such plagiarism becomes pretty much obvious

Lol. It is at least true that we are on different levels, musically speaking.

Nikola said:

It's not accusation. It's fact. Unlike you, dear Dave, I'm not tone deaf, so I can pretty much clearly hear same melodies in songs that on 'paper' might seem somehow different. So, yes, there are many similarities in those 2 songs. 

Considering Morricone, you know what is his 'best known work'? I doubt it. 

Plagiarism implies intent. So yes, that is the claim you're making.

Nikola said:

I also don't claim that Carl did it intentionally, but that still doesn't change the fact that it is ALMOST the same song on many levels. 

You don't accuse the artist of intentionally stealing it, that's a good start. Especially if you change your position to "I don't think he did it intentionally", because if you genuinely think it's an accident you then have no grounds to be a cunt about it.

And cunt you were: you'd said "That's what musicians who like to plagiarize do - they take the main melodic/harmonic idea and change it a bit, so they can escape being sued, but basically it is the same song with almost same chord progressions." So, which is it? An unintentional copy to your ears, or deliberate theft? You've touted both as your perspective.

Nikola said:

How should I call a song that sounds almost completely to me like the other song? The verse part is the same to my ears. Plagiarism is maybe a wrong word, but english ain't my native language, so I used it. 

Dave Dexter said:

Plagiarism implies intent. So yes, that is the claim you're making.

Nikola said:

I also don't claim that Carl did it intentionally, but that still doesn't change the fact that it is ALMOST the same song on many levels. 

I'm not going to argue with Nikola about this. There is just no way that I will be sued. It is reminiscent of it yes. I am aware of that. The oboe is one of the similarities. If you want to show me with notes on a stave where the law suit would originate from I'll comment then. Thanks for the replies guys. I'll get back to you all soon. :-)

The reality of temp tracking and industrial plagiarism, which I'm well aware of, is irrelevant here. If pieces sound similar but you're not convinced it was deliberate, you don't use the word "plagiarism." It's simple. Plagiarism is a conscious action and to accuse of it without foundation is an insult. Find some more words.

A valid point would be: "this reminded me of another song in some senses." Non-confrontational. No negative connotations. I've said that to composers. It's been said to me.
An invalid point would be: "you have plagiarised your song from this song" and then explain at the same time that this is a tactic used by composers wishing to copy and avoid legal consequences. Confrontational, negative connotations. Christ, this is how you put it:

"On the other hand 'Alchemy' sounds like pretty much obvious plagiarism of 'Fly Away' song. That's what musicians who like to plagiarize do - they take the main melodic/harmonic idea and change it a bit, so they can escape being sued, but basically it is the same song with almost same chord progressions." 

That's drawing comparisons and stating intent, however much you're wriggling now to say that you don't think it was intentional. You said the song was obvious plagiarism and the very next sentence started talking about musicians who plagiarise and why. "It wasn't necessarily connected to this song" - of course it was. You connected it yourself, you fucking worm.

Nikola said:

I generalized to answer to your statement, so you could actually learn what musicians do not to be sued. It wasn't necessarily connected to this song. It's how things work sometimes in music world. Just see what Tyler Bates did for '300' soundtrack. There isn't every note the same, but yes, he was plagiarizing and it seems that he did it on purpose. He plagirized from many of them... even from folk macedonian songs and from other movie composers. 

Listeners, for example, can notice 'ripping off' or 'borrowing' vital parts in Zimmer's 'Gladiator' from Holsts' 'Mars' and they call it plagiarism even though you can say it's not exactly the same as Mars. Plagiarism is never exactly the same as original. Sometimes you can borrow some musical idea (it is legal), small part of it, but if something obviously sounds like something else, how would you call it? 

I also see this song to be plagiarism in the verse even though they're not completely the same:

The Turtles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZEURntrQOg

Zaz:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm88QAI8I5A

So, how would you call that even if she wasn't aware that the melody is completely the same as in other song? I don't know what other term except plagiarism you can use. Unintentional plagiarism? Someone can hear a song and he can forget that he/she heard it and make it their own song. It's still a plagiarism. It's not their fault of course. It can happen. 

The thing is, I never heard any other song that sounds like 'Fly Away', so that's why those similarities are so obvious to me. How the hell should I know if he did it on purpose or not!? Even if he did it, it's not that I care. I simply point to that and while we're listening to music and we're "judging" it here, I think it's pretty valid to point to such similarities. I didn't do that to accuse him or anything like that. I just pointed to something that is obvious to me. 

I've listened to 'Fly away' and you may have a point regards the opening phrase of the melody. I don't know what the exact rules are but it's possibly close. That phrase could be changed a little. Other than that it's not plagiarism. You have six notes of similarity in an entire track with some overall impressionistic similarities. 

Haha...Nikola.... You actually made me laugh with that and now I feel that the tension of this thread has been lifted. Yes, you may have a point regards the first six lines of the melody. Calm down everybody bloody hell...:-)

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