Music Composers Unite!
I'm at a point where I'm really struggling to evolve my orchestration/arranging to the next level. I'm happy with a lot of my compositions in terms of structure: harmony, counterpoint,dynamics (sometimes), but I tend to produce very monolithic scores. Too often, it's just a big muddy string chorus with different countermelodies competing with each other.
So, I've been studying Rachel Portman's music for some time now because she has a compelling orchestration style. (I'm assuming she does her own...)
I've managed to identify a few ideas but am struggling very much in implementing any of them myself. Not that I want to be a Rachel Portman knockoff, but as an instructional excercise, I'm trying to mimic some of her techniques.
One thing I've discovered is it is very difficult to do quiet strings! I use EWQLSO and Allegro and getting them to back off is a real chore. I'm beginning to understand that adding just one more voice of strings makes a huge difference when the velocity is in the teens. That "full" feeling with minimal strings is proving elusive.
I've also noticed that a lot of those string swells really aren't. She has a tendency to lay into the bottom layers to create an illusion of sorts without really doing too much with the actual string line. Lay up CB, bone and a bassoon and you have a really dramatic pedal for the strings to "get big" on. Who knew?
Last but not least is the handing off of melodic lines. She will move between antecedents and conseqhences with members of the same family or between families. Often she will start with strings and then use woodwinds (especially the clarinet) for consequence. I can't even come close to pulling this off. It's... frustrating.
Any thoughts on any of this would be greatly appreciated. Anything that can be described in terms of scoring on paper would be lavishly appreciated.
Can you not find an orchestra nearby that would like to try your music? That way you get a much better idea on how it should sound. You can spend hours and hours trying to tweak samples but nothing compares to the real thing!