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Topic: Orchestration question...

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  1. #1

    Orchestration question...

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    Hi, I hope this isn\'t too much of a dumb question (or series of dumb questions) but here goes;

    I have received my copy of Advanced Orchestra (ok, when VSL is available here I might sell my car!)
    I also have Samuel Adler\'s The Study of Orchestration (book and cd\'s) on order.

    In the AO notes it gives you a breakdown of which instruments typically make up an orchestra and how many are in each section.

    I don\'t have the booklet in front of me (I\'m at work) but I think for strings it said;

    14 1st violins
    12 2nd violins
    10 viola
    8 celli
    6 basses

    My first question (I\'m slowly getting to the point!) is what is a typical breakdown for brass, woodwind and percussion?

    On the note of percussion, do orchestra\'s typically have to \"beef up\" the percussion if going for the Hans Zimmer, hollywood-soundtrack style? Or is that something that is mixed in later with samples?

    My final question, (sorry about this) Are there any general rules to help me out in orchestrating? For example, Using trombones for low drones, whilst the trumpets beat out the melody? (I just made that up) I know of course that rules are made to be broken but it would help to know what ensembles work well.

    Thanks in advance, Scott.

  2. #2

    Re: Orchestration question...

    Dear Scott

    How,s Sydney , boy do I miss that place . To answer your question the easiest way of thinking about orchestration is \"coloring in a pencil drawing \"

    There really are no rules other than the obvious limitations of the instruments in terms of range and dynamics so feel free to use what ever combination strikes your fancy .

    If you are after a particular sound however you should study with a score a piece of music you really like . Look at each instrument on its own . I.E. the flute part all the way through and so on .

    But a really good idea is to buy the score of Pictures At An exhibition by Mussorgsy . This has the original piano composition and the final Orchestration by Ravel on the same page , so you can see what instruments Ravel decided to use . He was a master .

    Also you should own Rimsky-Korsakoff\'s book as well (it\'s very cheap) and a decent recording of Shererazade and the score . He gets a huge sound out of a small orchestra through the perfect placement of ideas in the right registers .

    Good Luck

    ED BULLER [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Re: Orchestration question...

    Hi Scott

    Concerning your question on woodwind, brass etc.

    Woodwind:
    ---------
    Usually woodwinds are put in either pairs of 2 or three. Thus in pairs:

    2 flutes
    2 oboes
    2 clarinets
    2 bassoons

    All of the second players might be asked to play the so called extras, that is piccolo, english horn, bass clarinet or picc. clar. and double bassoon (though this is rare with only pairs)

    In pairs of three it can be a mixture of the above. A \"classic\" setup could be:

    piccolo / flute III
    flutes I, II

    oboes I, II
    english horn / Oboe III

    clarinets I, II
    bass clarinet/ clarinet III

    Bassoons I, II
    double bassoon / fag III

    In the orchestra they are seated like this (seen from the audience behind the strings)

    cl III, cl II, cl I - Fag I , fag II, c.fag
    picc., fl II, fl I - Ob I, ob II, cor. ang.

    In other words all the ww solist are next to each other in the middle.

    Some composers have called for woodwinds in pairs of 4 or more. For example in most of Mahlers symphonies, Stravinskys Rite of spring, Schonbergs Gurrelieder and most of Richard Strauss. Plus several others (I\'m writing this from memory, so don\'t jump me if I got something wrong)..


    Brass
    -----

    The normal breakdown will be

    4 horns
    2 or 3 trompets
    3 trombones (2 tenor and 1 bass tr.b)
    1 tuba

    In Beethovens days it was mostly just 2 horns and 1 trumpet (paired with the timpany BTW)

    Again you meet bigger setups in the late romantic pieces and often in big film scores:

    6 or 8 horns
    3 or 4 trumpets
    4 trombones
    tuba

    But as the number of woodwinds and brass increase it is considered a good idea to equally enlarge the string body.
    It really all comes down to balance. You will find this matter in detail described in both Adler and Rimsky-korsakov\'s books.

    Percussion is very rarely doubled. Most percussion instruments can \"cut through\" even the most dense orchestration on their own.
    Thus it doesn\'t make much sense to, lets say, have 4 triangles played simultaneously.

    Hope this was any help to you. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  4. #4

    Re: Orchestration question...

    Hi Niklas, thank you for taking the time to give me (and I\'m sure others,) a detailed and lengthy explanation.

    Also, a belated thank you to Ed Buller. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    It is very much appreciated.

    I am expecting my copy of \"Samuel Adler\'s The Study of Orchestration\" tomorrow. (hopefully!)

    Regards, Scott.

  5. #5

    Re: Orchestration question...

    Hi Jesse, I actually received the CD\'s a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting on the book. (hopefully today darn it!)

    From what I have seen on the cd\'s so far it is very, very good. It is professionally produced and concise. It shows a video clip of each instrument in the orchestra and even shows different playing techniques. I especially liked the clips of the violin player demonstrating legato, con sordino, etc. THese are things mentioned in the string sample libraries that we buy but I confess I never knew what it all meant - except maybe for pizzicato.

    I have read a lot of good reports on this book and I believe it is considered \"the\" guide to orchestration. It is used widely in schools and colleges around the world.

    I will post my thoughts on this guide when I do eventually get it.

    Regards, Scott.

  6. #6

    Re: Orchestration question...

    Originally posted by Scott Cairns:
    Hi Jesse, I actually received the CD\'s a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting on the book. (hopefully today darn it!)

    From what I have seen on the cd\'s so far it is very, very good. It is professionally produced and concise. It shows a video clip of each instrument in the orchestra and even shows different playing techniques. I especially liked the clips of the violin player demonstrating legato, con sordino, etc. THese are things mentioned in the string sample libraries that we buy but I confess I never knew what it all meant - except maybe for pizzicato.

    I have read a lot of good reports on this book and I believe it is considered \"the\" guide to orchestration. It is used widely in schools and colleges around the world.

    I will post my thoughts on this guide when I do eventually get it.

    Regards, Scott.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Scott,

    Thanks for the report. I ordered mine today and I am really looking forward to learning how much I don\'t know - which is a ton.

    Rob

  7. #7

    Re: Orchestration question...

    sorry if I´m pretty slow, but are there two versions?
    I mean, amazon shows two versions at different prices (I suppose the on which is more expensive will have more CDs?) and then there´s also something called the workshop, which has pretty bad reviews.

    Could you explain the difference between:

    1. The Study of Orchestration (3rd Edition) -- by Samuel Adler (Editor); Audio CD
    Buy new: $93.75 -- Used & new from: $88.94

    3. Study of Orchestration, Third Edition -- by Samuel Adler; Hardcover
    Buy new: $65.35 -- Used & new from: $54.55

  8. #8

    Re: Orchestration question...

    sorry if I´m pretty slow, but are there two versions?
    I mean, amazon shows two versions at different prices (I suppose the on which is more expensive will have more CDs?) and then there´s also something called the workshop, which has pretty bad reviews.

    Could you explain the difference between:

    1. The Study of Orchestration (3rd Edition) -- by Samuel Adler (Editor); Audio CD
    Buy new: $93.75 -- Used & new from: $88.94

    3. Study of Orchestration, Third Edition -- by Samuel Adler; Hardcover
    Buy new: $65.35 -- Used & new from: $54.55
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi, I didnt work it out right away either. Option number 3 that you listed above is the book on it\'s own. This is the primary subject material.

    The workbook is like a series of exercises to test yourself on the knowledge from the main hardcover edition as best as I can tell. I believe that schools use it to test students.

    Now where it is a little confusing is whether or not option 1. mentioned above gives you both the hardcover book AND the audio cd\'s togther. I think at that price it should.

    Here in Australia I purchased the hardcover books and cd\'s for roughly $90 U.S. so it sounds about right.

    Regards, Scott.

  9. #9

    Re: Orchestration question...

    I ordered the $93 CD option thinking that I was getting everything (CD and Text) Only got CD\'s. Buyer beware.

    Rob

  10. #10

    Re: Orchestration question...

    I ordered the $93 CD option thinking that I was getting everything (CD and Text) Only got CD\'s. Buyer beware.

    Rob
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Sorry to hear that Rob. Maybe I should start exporting the sets here from Australia cause for just over $90 U.S. I received the whole lot.

    I should state that the first thing I ordered was only the CD\'S so at that point I had spent aorund $50 U.S. I then went and ordered the book that was a little cheaper; around $40 U.S.

    It seems that the packaging of an otherwise excellent product needs to be more clear.

    Cheers, Scott.

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