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Topic: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

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  1. #1

    What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    I realize this question may be too general to answer but even some basic direction might be helpful for those of us with less experience in ths area. And besides, this topic gets much less attention than orchestration.

    Here's my situation:

    I've been working on a motif based piece that I want to have a 'grand', 'opening credits' kind of sound. I've arrived at a melody line that I'm satified with but I'm having a tough time finding the right 'sound' harmonically. My background is in writing pop and some jazz and needless to say these approaches aren't giving me what I want to hear. Sorry I can't be more specific (if I could I probably wouldn't need to ask).

    Here's a link to a pdf leadsheet of what I've got so far:

    http://www.falcon-creations.com/pdf/...mmermotif1.pdf

    Thanks to falcon1 for hosting it.

    Looper
    Last edited by Looper; 08-19-2004 at 07:06 PM. Reason: adding a link

  2. #2

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Hi Looper, Im far from being an orchestral expert myself but here are a couple of very general things that might help;

    - Try and keep your harmonies in the basses spaced wider apart or they will probably sound too muddy.

    - Strings can often be harmonised in thirds and sixths but it really depends on the sound you going for. Again depending on the sound you are striving for, you can colour with 7ths as well.

    - Instead of harmony, perhaps some unison doubling might help? Flutes playing unison with violins can thicken up the sound.

    - If the melody is being carried by a woodwind, try doubling with another wind. For example; Oboe and Flute, Flute and Clarinet, etc.
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  3. #3

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    I second what Scott has mentioned - only to add that octave doubling is also heavily used in the "big" orchestral sound. A lot of the time you'll have the first and second violins divisi doubling all over the place. Flutes and piccolos often do the same for the woodwinds

    Horns are also a big part of that sound - they are very versatile and have an impressive range - use them in doubling other instruments and adding harmonic support.

    If you are looking for actual harmonies, I really couldn't tell you - let that come from others here who are much better at articulating details.

    For what that was worth!

    Jerry Wickham
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  4. #4

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Scott, Jerry,

    Thanks for the responses but you guys are still one step ahead of me. Orchestrating this tune will be the "next" major challenge for me. I'm still searching for the right notes to harmonize the melody. I've tried the mostly diatonic approach a la 'pop' and II V's with extensions which are more jazzy sounding. So far the closest thing to "the sound" that I've tried is using a lot of major chords from distantly related keys (a major or minor 3rd apart).

    I really should pull out some soundtracks and try to figure out what's going on but it's tough because there's not many 'standard chord progressions' to be found.

  5. #5

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Looper
    Scott, Jerry,

    Thanks for the responses but you guys are still one step ahead of me. Orchestrating this tune will be the "next" major challenge for me. I'm still searching for the right notes to harmonize the melody. I've tried the mostly diatonic approach a la 'pop' and II V's with extensions which are more jazzy sounding. So far the closest thing to "the sound" that I've tried is using a lot of major chords from distantly related keys (a major or minor 3rd apart).

    I really should pull out some soundtracks and try to figure out what's going on but it's tough because there's not many 'standard chord progressions' to be found.
    Hi Looper, if you understand your scales and intervals I think you'll do fine.

    The other thing to brush up on is the ranges the various instruments not only play in, but sound the best in, and the agility of various instruments. For example, a trumpet can usually play faster runs than a French Horn. Violin faster than a Double Bass, etc.

    These are the basics you can pick up in orchestration books or browsing the web.

    It also helps to know the names of various playing techniques; Learn your spiccatto from your spaghetti's
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  6. #6

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Looper

    I wanted to post a pdf but my website is down, I'd be grateful if anyone wanted to host the small pdf file for me.

    Looper
    Hi Looper, I can host the pdf for you - just send it to stefanh AT simnet.is
    Sincerely,
    Falcon1


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  7. #7
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    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Listen to the scores that inspire you. Look at the sheet music. You'll find what you need.

    Jeff

  8. #8

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Hi,

    maybe you could take a look at scores of romantic composers. E.g. Mahler's second symphony might be a good inspiration for that sound you desire (always reminds me of some star wars themes). Or Bruckner's fourth (especially his treating of french horns).

    Best regards,
    Andreas

  9. #9

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    "A lot of the time you'll have the first and second violins divisi doubling all over the place."


    Do you mean the I and II volin playing the exact same melody just an octave apart? Your use of divisi with doubling is throwing me off.... Doesn't divisi mean they are playing different lines? Or am I just a confused monkey?


    Pickled shrimp....

  10. #10

    Re: What Type of Harmony Produces a "Hollywood" Sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbagump
    "A lot of the time you'll have the first and second violins divisi doubling all over the place."


    Do you mean the I and II volin playing the exact same melody just an octave apart? Your use of divisi with doubling is throwing me off.... Doesn't divisi mean they are playing different lines? Or am I just a confused monkey?


    Pickled shrimp....
    Divisi simply means that the violin part splits into two parts. Often playing octaves in the "big parts"

    Yes - i agree with Andreas - Mahler's Second is a great one to look at. It is one of my favs, to be sure.


    Jerry Wickham
    MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5ghz 4GB Ram OSX 10.5.8
    Korg TritonLe & MAudio Oxygen 8
    T3, Logic 9, DP7, K2, GPO4, Strad, Gofriller, C&MB, Finale 2010

    My Website!
    New Film Scores!
    Also, Ever think about having your very own personal documentary? See my new Website!
    http://www.mylegacyfilm.com


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