As an exercise, I took one of the pieces from my parents' Christmas Cantata and tried to orchestrate it. This is my first attempt at orchestrating someone else's music...let me know what you all think.
Yes, it was a piano and vocal piece. Is it obvious?
In some ways, yes.
Paul, when orchestrating from a piano score, one might generally wish not to try to be too literal about it. For instance, what clued me in this was that some notes/chords would normally be held longer in an orchestral rendition.
It's common in piano scores to "short the note" -- write the duration shorter than what is actually desired -- on the assumption the sustain pedal would be in use, and the note would actually sound longer, anyway.
First tip: Go more by what your ear tells you: You don't need to (nor is practical or advisable to) slavishly adhere to the notes before you in the piano score.
Second tip: Listen to your own clock on the tempo... don't rush.
Third tip: Watch the timpani... easy does it, especially rolls, and resist the urge to use timpani to create bass lines in this style of music.
Paul, orchestrating music from piano score is *not* easy to do... so you have set yourself a tougher task than you might have initially imagined.
On the other hand...
You got a great deal working right, well, and sounding pretty darned good... which is why I called it a "creditable first pass".
Now you need to get back in there, rework, and trust your ear and your instincts to bring this along.
I really enjoyed this-thanks for posting it.
How many times have we been sitting in church and hear something, or be singing a peice, and think about how great it would sound orchestrated.
I've had great fun orchestrating other songs, either trascribing it from an audio file, from a score or sheet music, or starting with a midi file.
Great job. I agree about the length of the notes, and the tympani stuck out.
I think orchestrating other works is great. It gives you lots of practice finding out which combinations of intruments work, and you can also pick up interesting techniques used by other composers.