• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Topic: Ahhh Geez

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    Question Ahhh Geez

    I wish they had some kind of cliff notes for learning about orchestration. I've learned that the best way TO learn is by doing, I just can't think of an efficient enough way to absorb everything from the Rimsky-Korsakov book on orchestration. It sucks because I've been getting so many good ideas lately but, I can't orchestrate or arrange. Somebody pleeeeeeeeease point me in the right direction. Please. I also have the Cecil Forsyth book and there's no way I can think of an approach to independently studying from that work. Help me please.... btw, I realize I'm not alone in this predicament.

  2. #2

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    "cliff notes for learning about orchestration"

    Oh man, I would kill for that! I compose mostly on the piano, and have hired orchestrators for a lot of my works in the past. I am trying to learn it, Sloooowly as I have a hundred other things going on as well.

    My suggestion would be to sit and listen to music that YOU like and pick apart each section, map it out, comb the score... this seems to be the best tool for me, hope it will work for you.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  3. #3
    Senior Member CString's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    152

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    Quote Originally Posted by 88chopin
    Somebody pleeeeeeeeease point me in the right direction. Please.
    Ok. Go east - the "right" direction.

    The first thing you should do is go and find a teacher. Whether it's a school or private instruction does not matter as long as the person is skilled. Learning on your own is certainly possible but the process is going to be slow, aggravating, and filled with mistakes that you might not even be aware of until you hear your work played by real people. Life is short, why waste time?

    Most people begin teaching orchestration with small ensemble pieces. I agree with this method. Try starting by taking a piano work and transcribing it to wind or brass quintet or string quartet/trio, whatever. Do at least one of each. I suggest more so that you get more intimate with each instrument in the section.

    The other thing you should do is purchase some scores. I suggest Dover as they are cheap and there aren't too many mistakes in most of them. You should also get recordings to go with the scores - it's pretty much necessary.

    The first thing you need to think about - before timbral colors - is the concept of foreground, middleground, and background. In the scores you have, take a section and look at what instruments are carrying the melody. Then see if there is any counter line or a "call and response" (that would be middleground material). Last, look at the background. What instruments are providing accompaniment? As you look at and listen to these elements, think about what registers are they in. What is the dynamic marking? LISTEN to the recording of that section. What is the overall effect? Store the sound in your brain - simply being able to accurately recall combinations of sound is a big part of orchestration.

    Now, take that section that you just picked apart and reorchestrate it. Always with a mind for instrument registers and dynamics in addition to the color itself.

    The other thing you might find helpful is to take the section in Rimsky's book that deals with melodic doublings. Pick a theme and put those doublings into a notation program and listen to GPO play them. Remember, though, Rimsky's book only covers up to woodwinds by three. There is nothing there to teach you how to deal with a larger orchestra. For that you are going to have to study scores by people like Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, or Richard Wagner among others.

    Hopefully this will get you going in the right direction. What you're doing is like trying to learn Probability and Statistics without a teacher. Possible but nowhere near easy. Above all things LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and remember! I'm sure some other will have suggestions for you as well.

    -Chad
    Me fail English? That's unpossible.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    NW Illinois
    Posts
    1,175

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    I learned the most from looking at composer's scores while listening. Check your local college library. Also I think you can get the entire Holst score to The Planets on Amazon, very inexpensive.

    Jeff

  5. #5

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    I agree, you can find private instructors all over the place. Check with local private music schools and universities. Eventually someone will reccomend someone that teaches private music theory.


    Beyond that...everything has changed with the advent of GPO. Because now you can read these texts, listen to the classics and EXPERIMENT with GPO.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  6. #6

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    For study scores, I would stay away from anything earlier than Berlioz. Remember that instruments were still being invented and refined, and many new ideas in ochestration were still in their infancy. For example, brass writing changed dramatically when valved instruments became the standard in orchestras.

    Some of the greatest examples of orchestrators: Berlioz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Wagner, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartok, Respighi, R. Strauss, Prokofiev

    Some of the easier to learn from as a beginner: Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Grieg, Dvorak

    I for one got a ton of mileage out of Tchaikovsky's scores when I was learning.

    And don't give up on the R.-K. Orchestration book... there is a lot of useful info in there. Particularly about grouping pairs of instrument types into quartets, and voicings that work between instrument groups. Also pay attention to his comments on differences in section balance at different dynamic levels.

    Here's a few simple things you can do to start out:
    1. Write some generic four-part harmony in half notes, and try to orchestrate it. This will work best if you follow good counterpoint and voicing guidelines.
    2. Double lines at octaves where it works, but generally don't allow the bass line to cross over the tenor line. An easy way to keep to this is to only double the bass line down an octave, and all other lines only up one and two octaves.
    3. Space lower pitched instruments further apart harmonically, using the natural overtone series as a guide.
    4. Keep the four parts pure. Don't let an instrument wander from part to part (eg, from tenor to alto line).
    5. Keep an eye on each section of instruments, and try to make their indivual contribution make sense. For example, you may want to have bassoons and clarinets form a perfect quartet for themselves.
    6. Score the same harmony in several different ways, using different groups and numbers of instruments.

    I hope that helps.

    - Jamie
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  7. #7
    Senior Member Gary M. Thomas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC (USA)
    Posts
    522

    Smile Re: Ahhh Geez

    88Chopin, just an comment.... One can learn a tremendous amount about orchestration techniques by "listening" to other composers. By "listening", I mean REALLY listening.... try to hear (chordal voicings, melodic movements, syncopations, counterpoint, etc.) Try, as you listen, to imagine what the composer was trying to say in his composition.... and "why" the composer chose a particular instrument for a certain movement. There are litterally tons of books out there about orchestration... and they can be very helpful. But there's no real substitute for actually "listening"... and "picking-apart" the actual "workings" of an orchestral composition. Good luck. Gary

  8. #8

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary M. Thomas
    88Chopin, just an comment.... One can learn a tremendous amount about orchestration techniques by "listening" to other composers. By "listening", I mean REALLY listening.... try to hear (chordal voicings, melodic movements, syncopations, counterpoint, etc.) Try, as you listen, to imagine what the composer was trying to say in his composition.... and "why" the composer chose a particular instrument for a certain movement. There are litterally tons of books out there about orchestration... and they can be very helpful. But there's no real substitute for actually "listening"... and "picking-apart" the actual "workings" of an orchestral composition. Good luck. Gary
    TOTALLY AGREE! People used to think I was weird - well.....Uhm, ANYWAY.
    Since I was in my teens I used to buy the cheap Dover Orchestral scores and just sit there for hours and listen to a CD of the piece while following along with the score. You REALLY learn a LOT by observing what the composer did. You learn some of the uniqe aspects of various instruments, and learn how different instrument combinations sound together. Having already done this since my teens, I really had a leg-up on the rest of the class when i took orchestration in college. It was basically a re-afirmation of all the conclusions I had come to while reading all those scores. I still do this and learn each time I do.

    Jerry Wickham

  9. #9

    Re: Ahhh Geez

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary M. Thomas
    88Chopin, just an comment.... One can learn a tremendous amount about orchestration techniques by "listening" to other composers. By "listening", I mean REALLY listening.... try to hear (chordal voicings, melodic movements, syncopations, counterpoint, etc.) Try, as you listen, to imagine what the composer was trying to say in his composition.... and "why" the composer chose a particular instrument for a certain movement. There are litterally tons of books out there about orchestration... and they can be very helpful. But there's no real substitute for actually "listening"... and "picking-apart" the actual "workings" of an orchestral composition. Good luck. Gary
    Hey Gary,

    I noticed I can't read the your full message, as the area where your post is shown is made smaller due to a pretty big area that shows your name and location etc.
    I'm not sure how you can solve this. The most practical way is probably moving to a smaller state...?

    Right, back on topic now....
    -- Mr. Kej

  10. #10
    Senior Member Gary M. Thomas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC (USA)
    Posts
    522

    Talking Re: Ahhh Geez

    Thanks Kejero, I think I've fixed it now.
    And I didn't even have to relocate. ... Gary

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •