Having seen several postings in the last few months in which forum members feel at a loss when it comes to creating arrangements and orchestrations, I thought it would be appropriate to start a thread on the topic.
Aside from coursework at institutions of higher learning, and/or a whole lot of hands-on experience, there is much that a GPO user can do to further his or her skills. GPO actually is a terrific tool for learning orchestration, not just finessing it.
There's an excellent software tool available for both Mac and PC, called "Transcribe!" It first came to my attention through the Finale forums. It allows a user to import a sound file, and play it back at greatly reduced speeds while maintaining the original pitches played.
If, for instance, a GPOster were to import a few bars of an existing orchestration [i.e., filmscore, etc.] into Transcribe! and play it enough times to become familiar with what's going on, it might be a worthy learning experience to use GPO to create a mockup of those few bars. Listen to the various layers of what's going on in strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, etc.; and take the time to recreate it in GPO.
I doing so, one has the opportunity to put under a microscope the various mechanisms of other orchestrators & arrangers. While not the same as being classically taught, such an exercise affords some hands-on practice at recreating effects, timbres, and nuances that one finds interesting and worth learning from.
Interesting. Thanks for the link, I'll definitely check this out. I was thinking of looking into similar offerings by Sibelius. They also have some teach yourself programs available for the PC. I was very interested in the one called Compass, but alas there are only 24 hours in the day... Wonder if you could route the outputs of these programs to GPO or if the sounds are a built in functions of the software itself?
I'm glad you started this thread. Studyinging the art of orchestration can take a lifetime. The best way to learn is to study the masters. When listening to an orchestration in real-time, there is often too much going on at once, and so fast, that it is difficult to isolate and concentrate on the various parts. To be able to actually hear the details of what's going on in a piece is important.
Using a tool like "Transcribe!" is an excellent idea. By slowing a recorded orchestratal piece down you can hear the subtle nuances - the intonation, the phrasing, the dynamics, etc. - you will be able to hear clearly what is happening with real performers playing. You can play along in slow motion until you have the part down perfectly. Practice mimicking and then do the same for other instruments. Evenutually you'll be able to play with the orchestra in real-time. Many pros use this technique to emulate the master soloists.
Thanks for posting this tip. This will be an invaluable method for those who want to learn how to orchestrate.
regarding the topic, i suggest going to the site suggested by gary a while ago www.unheardbeethoven.org
here you can find some beethoven original sketches, for example for piano, that the author of the website have completed and orchestrated.
for example i took a look at the sketches of the 10th symphony, first on the piano alone (by LVB) where there are only the melody and some chords and then fully orchestrated. i think it would be a great learning experience to compare the two midi files (but i admit i have't do it yet!)
"By slowing a recorded orchestratal piece down you can hear the subtle nuances - the intonation, the phrasing, the dynamics, etc. - you will be able to hear clearly what is happening with real performers playing."
By the way, you might also want to try an amazing plug-in created for winamp. It allows exactly the same for any mp3 file. and it is free!!
wow, that peacemaker plug-in is pretty cool. I'm trying it out on right now on Liszt's 2nd hugarian Rhapsody.... Sad thing is that parts of it still are being played really fast....I wish I could play this song....
btw, do you know of any other useful winamp plug-ins like this?
Most interesting! At first I thought you were talking about "Transcriber" which is a software that will remove vocal and other lead instruments out for Karaoke and other teaching purposes. One can make your own "Minus One" programs to practice with and you can slow down the tempo without messing up the pitch.
Thanks for the link to the peacemaker plug-in. I just used it on the Star Wars Theme and you start to hear details in the score that aren't readily apparent at normal speed. Very interesting, thanks again.
That is the idea. Very useful ressource for complicated scores. Unfortunately, I have not heard of anything other plug-in worth talking about. In fact, I'm amazed at how little known this "pace maker" is in the musical community. I remember back in the nineties I was fascinated by the sony professional walkman, which had the capacity to play slower but...an octave LOWER. LOL.