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Topic: an embarrassing request

  1. #1

    Red face an embarrassing request

    Hi again, so far I have so been busy trying out all the different instruments that I wonder if I'll ever get to actual playing. The Steinway is great! Anyway, is there any "orchestration for dummies" books out there? I am coming from years of playing in basically rock and popular music bands. And now I am doing a lot of electronic groove type stuff using vst's. I have a desire to mold the sounds of the orchestra into my style of music that I make and would like some tips on placing and using the various instruments correctly. And I started this whole thing back in the 3rd grade (a long time ago, in a land far far away) Any help or pointing in a direction would a great help. Thanks

  2. #2

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Nothing embarrassing about that request, in my book. I'd buy 'orchestration for dummies' in a heartbeat - if a good one existed.

    There is a book called 'Guide to Midi Orchestration', by Paul Gilreath, that just underwent an update, which you might find helpful, depending on the details of your need. The first edition, which I have, spent more time on sample library review/selection than 'orchestration 101'. I don't know the details of the new edition, though I know it has updated the sample library content. Other orchestration books that are often recommended on such threads are fairly 'heavyweight' college theory texts, and they require serious study.

    I would suggest picking an orchestrated work that you really like, and getting yourself the score - many works are available for not much money in 'booklet' form. Listening to the piece, while studying the score, and then maybe even going through the process of creating your own midi mockup of this work will teach you many things, which you could then apply to your own efforts. I find myself spending many hours studying my Mozart scores, over a cup of coffee, and just observing how he did things. Then, when faced with a problem, I sometimes have an Amadeus solution to try.

    One thing's for sure - GPO is the perfect tool for easily putting the new ideas to work!


  3. #3

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Here is the URL for the Gilreath book.


    I'd like to order it myself, and infact, I called them this morning. I got an answering machine and they never returned my call, so........

  4. #4

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Go to the nearest Barnes and Noble. They have a book called "Orchestration for Dummies." Covers basic music theory, cordal structure, intervals, etc. Not bad for a cheap little book.

  5. #5

    Re: an embarrassing request

    I am searching the Barnes & Noble web site and so far not finding it yet. There are alot of books on this so I should be able to find something. I did find a book at the dummies.com web site called Classical Music For Dummies
    I wonder if this is the same book. Thanks for the tips, by the way, I think there is something stuck in your teeth

  6. #6

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Quote Originally Posted by mrreno
    Thanks for the tips, by the way, I think there is something stuck in your teeth

    EH ????

    Theo Krueger - Composer


    Kontakt 2 Scripts

  7. #7

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Sorry, Complete Idiots Guide to Music Theory, that's the one. I don't know if it'll do you any good though since you probably know music theory already. I use Adler's book for orchestration and it's been okay so far. I do plan on getting Gilreath's book when they start shipping though.

  8. #8

    Re: an embarrassing request

    uuhhh,..............yeah theory that's it. It has been so long since I have been near theory let alone read music on a regular basis. When I started playing in bands (right after electricity was hatched) it has always been more of a experience of the heart and head, maybe I will need to refresh or possibly reboot

  9. #9

    Re: an embarrassing request

    Don't confuse theory with orchestration and instrumentation. If you've been writing music you're happy with you don't really to learn theory to arrange for orchestra. It won't help you to know that the cool chord you played was a Neopolitan 6th. On the other hand, a good book on orchestration will tell you what role each instrument typically plays and give some examples of how they do it. I think that's more that you're after.
    Like if you read a book about drum programming it would say, among other things, how the hi-hat is bright and carries the rhythm usually on 8ths or 16ths, the kick is either 4 to the floor or 1 and 3, and the snare usually accents 2 and 4. It would go on and describe variations, cools tricks to try and stuff. Now imagine a book that does that for the dozens and dozens of orchestral instruments. Well, it's too big for one book! But it's not a theory book as such though.
    You could do worse than get the Berlioz or Rimsky-Korsakov ones from your local library. Henry Mancini wrote a good one from a kind of Jazz perspective. I've just borrowed a functional if dull one by someone called Blatter from my library. There was another good one by Garner Read I read.
    Overall, just trust your ears!
    "A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules,often with the assistence of unsuspecting musicians"

  10. #10

    Re: an embarrassing request

    ... And note .. there are plenty of orchestral works which are long out of copyright date ... and have been transcribed to MIDI and are available FREE on the web ....

    Now where is it ..



    Now look through those and see some you like the look of, download them, get them in your sequencer, even just using some soundfont of Windows generic midi set .... Get into Oh ... Key edit and ahve a good listen and look ...

    Sonetimes I solo the part ... or, well, solo say the melody instrument, but let the orchestral basses play along ... actually a bit like mixing ... comparing and contrasting the various parts, a/b ing different selections ...

    Oh .. Cubase, for example ... created a seperate MIDI track ... NOT for the purpose of putting extra notes ... but for the purpose of cutting up the track in to parts JUST to give visual indication of different elements of the song structure.

    ALSO .. have it running in the background from time to time when you are doing other things on the computer then when you come back to it, you'll notice improvements in your way of listening.

    IF you play an instrument ... like Guitar, keyboards, bass, drums ... then play along .... either the melodies/rhythms of lines as written OR JAMALONG with it.

    The purpose of JAMALONG is that you will be putting YOUR natural musicality into the process of listening ... you'll be anchoring what YOU would naturally add to the orchestra with the orchestra itself.

    When you get back to your normal way of doing music, then as you are playing your instruments, the association with the orchestra will ahve been formed, and the space you created when jamming along will be there for you as you work with your more familiar styles. THAT is the space in which you will have orchestral ideas.

    It'll feel slightly weird to begin with but rapidly natural.

    Tip .... as you get more familiar with listening to orchestras, then when you are composing your usual stuff, then as you wonder what to do with an orchestra, have a think of an ordhestral peice which INCLUDES some of the feels or the moods that you would 'quite like' to have represented in your own work. Have a listen to them .... do that MIDI examination I hafve sugggtested. Jam along with them.

    THEN go back to the peice YOU are working on.

    This is simply a way of fine tuning this method to suit the individual tune you are working on.

    Next year, i want to generate some music which is Guitar raock based, but which transforms, in a blatantly cliched manner, into orchestral action rock .. you know ... that pompus stuff that sweaty men usually assemble masses of waponry to. Kind of action ballet to calls of Yo and Do You Want To Live Forever etc. And lots of sounds of clunking and clicking as QL Stormdrums and vices of the Apocalypse get very excited whilst long chords sustain to hold the percussiver chops together until that Held-Breath moment ... where the string section carries on with a french-horn section which crept in with a slow attack to join the strings which simply hang there without any percussion before the ...er .. explosion, or the, er appearance of the platoon in full battle mood or even more tackyy, a high-zoom shot of a Helicopter coming up above a magnified horizon ... natural of city.

    And then all hell is let loose.

    ...... Which leads me to another way of getting in to orchestration to go with modern instruments .. keep the telly on in the background and have the films playing which are liely to have the kind of stuff you're interested in.
    Adverts are great too ... they have to get all the statement, development and conclusion over and done with in 30 seconds ... which is to me a relief because it saves me the agony and tedium of putting up with three minute singles which have most of them got little, if anything more to say.

    I wish you well in your endeavour, because you are embarking on a course of which I am still in the early stages.

    All the best

    Glyn Powell

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