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Hello Colleagues,

I am investigating writing something for orchestra, which I haven't written for before. In doing some basic research, I've found lots of different possibilities for instruments to include. I'm curious if anyone has an opinion on a basic instrument set to start with. The only parameter I have at this point is that a piano will be included. From what I have read, it seems like winds, brass, strings, and percussion are commonplace inclusions. If anyone would care to share what they think about what to include in those categories (which winds, which brass, etc.) or any other suggestions, would appreciate to hear from you -

Thanks!

Gav

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Here are the MP3 files:....no they aren't.....the CF system is being a bit cantankerous and not accepting them either as uploads or attachments via the paper clip. After I've had a very late lunch I'll send them to you direct via dropbox or similar...maybe you could then upload them to this thread from your end?

Talk soon.


Sure

Hi Stephen

Do you have a link to the sound files - I'd quite like to listen to them

Colin

Stephen Lines said:

Further to the above, it occurred to me I ought to put my money where my mouth is by giving an example of what I mean. This is not by at all the best example you will find in the universe but it serves its purpose. You may recall a couple of years ago commenting on (and indeed encouraging me to write more music in the style of) my Thema Obscurante. I attach MP3s and pdfs of the scores written originally for solo piano and subsequently arranged for full orchestra (you will note incidentally that there is no keyboard in the orchestral version). Clearly I never really got around to finishing the piano score because I could see quite clearly its orchestral potential and couldn't wait to get started. I'm not suggesting that you take quite such liberties as I have done in arranging this when dealing with others' compositions but, because it's my own, I felt I had every right to do so.

If you can find the time and are sufficiently interested I think you might find a study of the two scores quite useful in assisting what you're trying to achieve - particularly in terms of the use of the instrumentation to achieve the lushness of the piano chords and their inherent upper partials. Being a keyboard player you will certainly be aware of the occasional use of close harmonies in the lower register of the piano - contrary to what the books on orchestration might tell you to do in the initial stages of learning - in the case of Thema Obscurante I've done it to achieve precisely the effect I was looking for (deep, mysterious, obscure theme etc.).

Please feel free to contact me directly via email if you think this thread might become a bit too boring or in-depth for general consumption.

All the best.

Stephen

PS. Due to file size limitations I might have to separate them and send them as follow-ons. 

Thema%20Obscurante%20-%20Piano.pdf

Thema%20ObscuranteRevFINAL%20-%20Full%20Score.pdf

Yes Gav, the harmony is good to my ear....I'd very much like to hear the remainder of the piece. You will see attached a small example of how to orchestrate it section by section....just a few ideas done in a rush. The principal thing to note is how the various instruments are dovetailed - by which I mean, to achieve a decent balance (unless you want a special effect) don't write from the top down or bottom up. If you have a seven note chord (say) in the brass section you would not give the top two notes to the trumpets, then the next four to the horns, then double them in the trombones, then the bottom one doubled maybe in the bass trombone/tuba. Aim to dovetail them from the top down e.g. Tpt, Hn, Tpt, Tbn, Hn, Tbn, Tuba doubled with B.Tbn. The same principle applies to the other sections. Obviously this is just scratching the surface but it gives you something to work on maybe.Gav%27s%20example%20orchestration%20-%20Full%20Score.pdf

Gav%27s%20example%20orchestration.mp3

Hi Colin,

Because the files are too big to send conventionally I will email them to you directly if you send me your email address.

If I had the time available I'd push them on to YouTube or the cloud but am overly busy today.

Colin Dougall said:

Hi Stephen

Do you have a link to the sound files - I'd quite like to listen to them

Colin

Stephen Lines said:

Further to the above, it occurred to me I ought to put my money where my mouth is by giving an example of what I mean. This is not by at all the best example you will find in the universe but it serves its purpose. You may recall a couple of years ago commenting on (and indeed encouraging me to write more music in the style of) my Thema Obscurante. I attach MP3s and pdfs of the scores written originally for solo piano and subsequently arranged for full orchestra (you will note incidentally that there is no keyboard in the orchestral version). Clearly I never really got around to finishing the piano score because I could see quite clearly its orchestral potential and couldn't wait to get started. I'm not suggesting that you take quite such liberties as I have done in arranging this when dealing with others' compositions but, because it's my own, I felt I had every right to do so.

If you can find the time and are sufficiently interested I think you might find a study of the two scores quite useful in assisting what you're trying to achieve - particularly in terms of the use of the instrumentation to achieve the lushness of the piano chords and their inherent upper partials. Being a keyboard player you will certainly be aware of the occasional use of close harmonies in the lower register of the piano - contrary to what the books on orchestration might tell you to do in the initial stages of learning - in the case of Thema Obscurante I've done it to achieve precisely the effect I was looking for (deep, mysterious, obscure theme etc.).

Please feel free to contact me directly via email if you think this thread might become a bit too boring or in-depth for general consumption.

All the best.

Stephen

PS. Due to file size limitations I might have to separate them and send them as follow-ons. 

Thema%20Obscurante%20-%20Piano.pdf

Thema%20ObscuranteRevFINAL%20-%20Full%20Score.pdf

Gav,

I don't know of any harmonies that can "only work on the piano". In fact the opposite is probably true (because a pianist is limited to a single ADSR shape in his playing, his main expressive tools are voicing and timing, and there are also mechanical limitations).

You have big hands, don't you? That E69 is almost painful for me to play ;/

Stephen's examples are very good. Of course they're limited to orchestrating the fragment section by section. There is an incredible number of possibilities once you start combining the choirs.

You can think in terms of how you'd voice the complex harmony as a solo pianist, and extrapolate from there. The notes that need to be emphasized should be played by instruments that jump to the foreground (either because their tone quality is punchy by default, or because they would be playing in a strong register), everything else can be filled by instruments that have an easier time blending. Note that you don't have to put every note in the very same octave you have it in the piano part - the harmonic quality of the chord is carried in the partials anyway, as long as you're adding correct notes you're enriching the harmony instead of reshaping it. Just make sure the foreground is where you want it (you want the chords sounding like they're rich, not shifted away into another octave). Also, don't muddy the low end.

I'm getting very technical here I guess, I hope it doesn't get too confusing :P

Hi

email is colin.dougal@gmail.com

Colin

Colin Dougall said:

Hi Stephen

Do you have a link to the sound files - I'd quite like to listen to them

Colin

Stephen Lines said:

Further to the above, it occurred to me I ought to put my money where my mouth is by giving an example of what I mean. This is not by at all the best example you will find in the universe but it serves its purpose. You may recall a couple of years ago commenting on (and indeed encouraging me to write more music in the style of) my Thema Obscurante. I attach MP3s and pdfs of the scores written originally for solo piano and subsequently arranged for full orchestra (you will note incidentally that there is no keyboard in the orchestral version). Clearly I never really got around to finishing the piano score because I could see quite clearly its orchestral potential and couldn't wait to get started. I'm not suggesting that you take quite such liberties as I have done in arranging this when dealing with others' compositions but, because it's my own, I felt I had every right to do so.

If you can find the time and are sufficiently interested I think you might find a study of the two scores quite useful in assisting what you're trying to achieve - particularly in terms of the use of the instrumentation to achieve the lushness of the piano chords and their inherent upper partials. Being a keyboard player you will certainly be aware of the occasional use of close harmonies in the lower register of the piano - contrary to what the books on orchestration might tell you to do in the initial stages of learning - in the case of Thema Obscurante I've done it to achieve precisely the effect I was looking for (deep, mysterious, obscure theme etc.).

Please feel free to contact me directly via email if you think this thread might become a bit too boring or in-depth for general consumption.

All the best.

Stephen

PS. Due to file size limitations I might have to separate them and send them as follow-ons. 

Thema%20Obscurante%20-%20Piano.pdf

Thema%20ObscuranteRevFINAL%20-%20Full%20Score.pdf

Thanks again to everyone all for your comments, links, examples, pdfs, mp3s. Stephen, I don't really have anything additional to share as I am just starting the piece and generally only post completed works. This one I may put in the "Open to Revision" forum when I'm done, if it goes anywhere. I shared the one measure because the question about harmonies came up, and you provided a good response to that question, which will take me some time to digest. Greg, yes, I have big hands -

Gav

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