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Topic: When and how to use different instruments

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  1. #1

    Question When and how to use different instruments

    Hello,

    I'm a new member, I live in the Netherlands and I'm working, experimenting with GPO about one year now, I'm using it with Cubase in combination with more different digital instruments to play quiet christian music.
    I study orchestration by myself for a while and was wondering if there's special rules for using the different instruments of an orchestra on special moments in a composition or does it go by feeling (inspiration).
    I'd like to know more about orchestration and that's why I like this course very much.
    I'm looking forward for the things that are coming in the followonmg lessons.
    I also would like to thank and give Garry a big compliment of the way he's presenting and using his special gifts.

    Johannes

  2. #2

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Hi Eagle, welcome to the community.

    There are no special rules for using particular instruments - certainly not as *rules*. But certain instruments have some moods or meanings attached through custom, though this should never bind you to that use. Here's a list off the top of my head:

    Flute: pastoral scenes, lightness, agility if played fast.
    Oboe: similar, often plaintive.
    Clarinet: sophistication (???) Spookiness if played low (esp. Bass clarinet)
    Bassoon: solemnity if slow, buffoonery if fast and staccato.
    Horn: Hunting!
    Trumpet: military matters,
    Trombones: originally funereal, now anything solemn or important.
    Tuba: heavy-footedness, represent any large or heavy creature.
    Timpani: nothing particular, but rolls suggest foreboding, or something important. Loud drums will help emphasise a climax.
    Bass drum: Use sparingly. Pinpoints moments of startling character. A soft BD roll is even more foreboding than timpani. Don't have a loud BD roll, it will drown the orchestra.
    Cymbals: Military again, or just any moment of climax.
    Side drum: Military, or perhaps dance music.
    Glockenspiel or triangle: lightens the atmosphere.
    Celesta: Celestial suggestion, or fairylike. Also used for spooky effect.
    Strings have so many uses it is impossible to specify.

    Really I have gone too far already! It is more important to use dynamics, rhythms, range, harmonies, etc. to convey meanings.
    Why not do what every learning orchestrator should do, and study existing scores?

    Terry Dwyer

  3. #3
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    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Johannes,

    Welcome to the forum.

    When and how to use different instruments is what this course will teach you. Knowing how the various instruments combine is something we will explore in depth. Once you get into it you will be abe to orchestrate in a new and different way.

    Thanks for participating.

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2005
    Location
    Edinburgh, Scotland
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    190

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    I'd just like to echo the appreciation of many to Gary for putting this online and I'm already enjoying dipping into it. There is one irony I can't help pointing out and that is that with the advent of ever better and more affordable libraries (with GPO the trailblazer in first bringing a credible orchestra within reach of the masses), it is now possible to judge your own orchestration almost entirely by ear and to try out and experiment with combinations in real time while composing which would have been completely impossible in Rimsky's time so guidelines were much more important then.

    That is not to say, naturally, that the methods are mutually exclusive!

  5. #5

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Eagle,

    Een naamloos iemand heeft geschreven...


    Tuba: heavy-footedness, represent any large or heavy creature.


    Noble. Jovial. Serious. An agile giant. Romantic. Dramatic. Threatening. Comforting. Basso Buffo. Basso serio. Anything but (allesbehalve) "heavy-footed." THEM DAYZ IZ OVER!!!!!

    Geen tubist met "zware voeten" in mijn orkest!!!

    Jim
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  6. #6

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    The challenge of orchestrating a piano piece can help one delve into your inner ear as you choose which instruments and which techniques will help achieve the effect written in the piano work. Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures At An Exhibition" is a great source for orchestral techniques. Here's a few examples from the limitless palette contained in those scores:
    In piano music the effect of attack and decay can be accomplished by having one instrument, say a woodwind playing a sustained note while the same note is executed on pizzicato strings. In piano music a staccato passage with sustain pedal depressed would contain both these characteristics. RK's Princ. Of Orch. gives some ery useful ideas on combination of similar characteristics:
    the natural staccato of a xylophone, with staccato woodwind and pizz. stgs.

    In "Pictures' i came across a few passages where Ravel added grace notes to emphasize the written pianistic effect in the original work. The piano part had an octave being approached by 3 grace notes (chromatically) while the orchestration had the approach from 9 grace notes in the agile woodwind.

    Terry Dwyer has given a very useful insight into how to approach choosing instrumentation for a given passage. Think about the desired effect, mood, range etc and choose your instruments based on which gives the best effect. Avoid worry about how long you are leaving someone ie the strings sitting without playing if you genuinely want a passage played on say oboe over sustained French Horns. Thinking in terms of colors that can be used alone or blended can help. Constantly challenge your inner ear to imagine how a passage would sound on different instruments, listen to a wide range of orchestral music and try to get a feel for what instruments are being used. these will combine to help you choose the right instruments for YOUR own sound.

    This online course will help you open up to different combinations.
    David.

  7. #7

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by snorlax
    Eagle,

    Een naamloos iemand heeft geschreven...


    Tuba: heavy-footedness, represent any large or heavy creature.


    Noble. Jovial. Serious. An agile giant. Romantic. Dramatic. Threatening. Comforting. Basso Buffo. Basso serio. Anything but (allesbehalve) "heavy-footed." THEM DAYZ IZ OVER!!!!!

    Geen tubist met "zware voeten" in mijn orkest!!!

    Jim
    Sorry, Jim! Forgetful of your fairy-light touch with the blowpipes, I was thinking of such pieces as Peasant with Bear in Petrushka, and Bydlo in the Ravel Pictures. But I'd really not imagine Flight of the Bumble-Bee on the tuba....

    Terry

  8. #8

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman
    Sorry, Jim! Forgetful of your fairy-light touch with the blowpipes, I was thinking of such pieces as Peasant with Bear in Petrushka, and Bydlo in the Ravel Pictures. But I'd really not imagine Flight of the Bumble-Bee on the tuba....

    Terry
    Hello, Terry!

    Go here, please:

    http://www.fromthetop.org/Programs/P...s.cfm?pid=1677
    (click on the R-K inkk at the bottom)

    This is a 20-year-old woman who just won the position of solo tuba in the PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA. If you slow it down, you will hear just how cleanly it is played. Unfortunately, you'll have to put up with the presenter talking over it.

    One of her showpieces is the Khachaturian violin sonata. Dig it here:

    http://inquirer.philly.com/rss/featu...achaturian.wma

    Again--slow it down & marvel at the clarity.

    Check it out.

    Friends, we are in the golden age of tuba playing.
    If you haven't experienced the emotional range of solo tuba playing on record and in live performance today, you are shortchanging yourself!!!

    One of the UK's tuba stars is steve Sykes at http://www.stevesykes.co.uk/

    The doyen of british tuba playing was the late John Fletcher.
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  9. #9

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Jim:-

    The second link didn't work for me, but I heard the Bumble-bee on the tuba. I wish I hadn't. Such things don't work! OK, it proves how clever the player is, and how possible it is to play fast on the instrument, but you'll never get away from the tuba's innate nature, which is, er..... large. Bumble-bees are small. The next step in the logic would be to play Saint-Saens' "Elephant" on the piccolo, perhaps?

    I know you don't agree, but in this forum we should be dealing with what the tuba is best at, when we are advising beginners at orchestration. For me, that is to support the brass, with the occasional solo.

    Terry

  10. #10

    Re: When and how to use different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman
    Jim:-

    The second link didn't work for me, but I heard the Bumble-bee on the tuba. I wish I hadn't. Such things don't work! OK, it proves how clever the player is, and how possible it is to play fast on the instrument, but you'll never get away from the tuba's innate nature, which is, er..... large. Bumble-bees are small. The next step in the logic would be to play Saint-Saens' "Elephant" on the piccolo, perhaps?

    I know you don't agree, but in this forum we should be dealing with what the tuba is best at, when we are advising beginners at orchestration. For me, that is to support the brass, with the occasional solo.

    Terry
    Yes, Terry, I shall lovingly and respectfully disagree, but not as much as you might think. We both know that the role of the tuba in the orchestra should basically be as you have described, but we make little progress unless we push the envelope of performance standards ever so gently, even within the confines of the orchestra.

    The real (re)naissance in tuba playing is at the solo level and in chamber music, and that is where this generation of great tubists is making its mark. Today's truly amazing soloists will make the listener forget just how large the tuba really is. This was the concept my musical mentor Harvey Phillips had in mind from the start of his career--he was just 50 years ahead of his time and opened the doors through which today's virtuosi walk so readily. To borrow a phrase I like, Harvey "transformed the aesthetic" of tuba playing, and all american tubists owe him a debt of gratitude.

    Maestro Pololanik, are you here? What are your feelings on these matters?
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

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