GARRITAN INTERACTIVE
PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION
by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov



Chapter II
MELODY

Part 1 - Stringed Instruments


Lesson Notes:
This lesson begins the journey into the craft of orchestrating melodies. A melody is often what is remembered most about a piece of music. The way a melody is orchestrated can make it memorable or easily forgotten. Using orchestral color to restate the melody in a new and unique ways is what makes for a good orchestrator. Different instrument combinations can drastically affect the mood the orchestrator is trying to convey.

In this lesson we will focus on melody in the stringed instruments, namely violin, viola, cello and double bass.




Whether it be long or short, a simple theme or a melodic phrase, melody should always stand out in relief from the accompaniment. This may be done by artificial or natural means; artificially, when the question of tone quality does not come into consideration, and the melody is detached by means of strongly accentuated dynamic shades; naturally, by selection and contrast of timbres, strengthening of resonance by doubling, tripling, etc., or crossing of parts (violoncellos above the violas and violins, clarinets or oboes above the flutes, bassoons above the clarinets etc.).

Professor Belkin Comments: In a more general sense, this brings up, for the first time here, the issue of planes of tone: foreground, background, etc.. Obviously a melodic line is an example of a musical foreground. As a general principle of orchestration, it is generally best to decide the timbre(s) of the foreground first, and THEN choose how to set the less prominent elements in the texture, since accompaniment parts MUST, by definition, attract less attention than primary lines.

Melody planned in the upper parts stands out from the very fact of position alone, and likewise, to a less degree when it is situated in the low register. In the middle of the orchestral range it is not so prominent and the methods referred to above come into operation. They may also be employed for two part melody (in thirds and sixths) and for polyphonic writing.

Professor Belkin Comments: Another element which determines orchestral prominence is MOVEMENT. All other things being equal, the ear tends to follow CHANGE. So, for example, a moving line in the violas, surrounded by the outer strings holding long notes, will stand out adequately - provided of course that the other strings are not holding notes in the exact same register as the violas!




Melody in stringed instruments.



Instances of the melodic use of stringed instruments are in-numerable. The reader will find many examples in the present treatise. With the exception of the double basses, dull in tone and of little flexibility, chiefly employed in unison or in octaves with the violoncellos, � each of the other stringed instruments, taken independently, is qualified to assume full responsibility for the melodic line.

a) Violins.
Melody in the soprano-alto register and an extra-high compass usually falls to the lot of the 1st Violins, sometimes to the 2nd Violins or to both in unison, a process which produces fuller resonance without impairing quality of tone.


Professor Belkin Comments: A common procedure, when the music is suitable (i.e. breaks up naturally into shorter segments) is to create a dialogue between first and second violins playing the melody, rather than relying entirely on the 1st violins.

Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:




No. I. Sheherazade 2nd movement, Section B
; Violins in melody, piano and graceful in character.


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No. 2. The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitesh, Section 283; Violins in melody.


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

GPO Exercise - Violins in melody - Example No. 2

This is a brief example from Rimsky's work where you can practice using Garritan Personal Orchestra, gaining balance, deciding on articulations, and inputing with your keyboard. The 1st Violins are omitted (it is the topic at hand) as you will input them via keyboard or notation( either in your sequencer or importing the midi into a notation program).
  1. Load the Example #2 - Legend of Kitesh MIDI into your sequencer (tutorials for loading GPO and importing midi files for various sequencers can be found at theTutorials Page on the www.garritan.com website).
  2. Load two instances of GPO either as a plugin in your sequencer or into your supported notation program
  3. Determine from the score what instruments you will require for articulations or doubling (i.e. two wind instruments in unison would require two separate instrument patches).
  4. Load instruments into GPO instance 1 and 2 that correspond to the score (i.e. Flute player 1starting in GPO instance 1 channel 1, 1st Violins 1 Sust + Short in GPO instance 2 channel 1)
  5. In one of the empty slots go ahead and load percussion toys as it will be used as your temporary metronome.
  6. Refer to the score (for the score click here) and once you have loadedGPO instruments, go ahead and move such things as pizz to a different track by either copying the current track and deleting the sustained parts that should be pizz, or you can use the keyswitch patches (however be forwarned that in doing so this will use much more memory. It's recommended to separate the tracks of Sust/pizz as those are the only two articulations you will need and it will save on memory).
  7. Once you have all the various tracks set up and have determined your instrument setup, you can now start recording. It is at this point where you should set your tempo to a comfortable level (you can always increase it later). Now its only a matter of track selection, mod wheel data (CC1), legato (sust pedal CC64) and balancing after giving a few tries and becoming satisfied with the 1st Violins part (unless you inputed with notation).
  8. Use the simple controls of GPO (mod wheel for dynamic expression, sustain pedal for legato (phrasing), and velocity for attack. Familarize yourself with this performance control system. Once you're satisfied (don't take too much time with this) go ahead and set the tempo to where it should be or close to. Do not worry about a perfect "mix" as this is just a simple excersise to get used to GPO and at the same time work with an example from the book.

No. 3. Spanish Capriccio, Section J; Violins I in the upper register doubling the high register of the wood-wind. Choice resonance.


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score
Other References:
• The Tsar's Bride, Section 84. Pianissimo melody (Violins 1) of a troubled dramatic character. Harmonic accompaniment (Vns II and Violas tremolando � middle parts; the Violincellos forming the bass).
• Antar, before Section 70 . �Descending melodic phrase, Violins I con sordini piano.
• Antar, Section 12. Light graceful melody, oriental in style; a dance measure (Violin I con sordino), the mutes producing a dull ethereal quality of tone
:

b) Violas.
Melody in the alto-tenor register and a still higher compass is assigned to the violas. Cantabile melodies however are not so frequently written for violas as for violins and 'cellos, partly because the viola tone is slightly nasal in quality and better fitted for short characteristic phrases, partly because the number of viola players in an orchestra is smaller. Melodies confided to the violas are generally doubled by other strings or by the wood-wind.



Professor Belkin Comments: … although a melody in the violas alone is quite satisfactory. There is no absolute NEED to double violas by winds or other strings, unless it be for reasons of tonal balance.
Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:

No. 4. Pan Voyevoda, duet in Act II, Section 145; Violas long cantabile melody, dolce, in unison with the mezzo-soprano voice.

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

No. 5. The Golden Cockerel, Section 193; Flowing cantabile violas.

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No. 6. Sadko. Symphonic tableau, Section 12; Muted violas. A short dance theme, piano in Db major. (The same theme in Eng. horn in the 61' scene of the opera Sadko is slightly more penetrating in tone).


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



c) Violoncellos.
Violoncellos representing the tenor-bass range and an extra-high compass are more often entrusted with tense passionate cantabile melody than with distinctive figures or rapid phrases. Such melodies are usually laid out for the top string (A) which possesses a wonderfully rich "chest" quality.


Professor Dwyer Comments: The spelling in the original text of "violoncello" is correct. Italian has several ways of denoting a diminutive word, or an enlargement. "Piccolo" actually means "small" and the complete phrase "Flauto Piccolo", meaning "Small flute" has got shortened to just "Piccolo". In the same way "cello" also means small, and the word "violoncello" means "Small Violon(e)", - obviously not "Violincello" = "small violin"! So what is a Violone? It is the old equivalent of the Double Bass, and the word Violone derives from "Viola", plus the suffix "-one" which means "large". So the word Violoncello actually means "Little large viola"!!


Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No. 7. Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, 2nd Movement; A broad melody dolce espressivo, afterwards doubled by the first violins an octave higher. (replaces original example, cf. also Pan Voyevoda, Section134, nocturne, "Moonlight").


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No.8. Snegourotchka, Section 231; At the fifth bar, Cellos melody on the A string cantabile ed espressivo, imitating the first clarinet. (Note: Also not mentioned as a CF #8 Snegourotchka in the back:Violins 1+2, Violas, 2 flutes, 2 horns.


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No. 9. Snegourotchka, Section 274; Cellos, Melodic phrase with embellishments.

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score


Other References:
• Antar,
Section 56, Cantabile on the A string.
• Antar,
Section 63, The same melody in Db major on the D string (doubled by the bassoons).
d) Double basses.

Owing to its register - basso profondo + a still lower compass, - and its muffled resonance, the double bass is little capable of broad cantabile phrases and only in unison or in octaves with the 'cellos. In my own compositions there is no phrase of any importance given to the double bass without the support of 'cellos or bassoons.


Professor Belkin Comments: This is no longer quite as true. Good bass players can produce quite beautiful tone. But as a NORM, RK’s principle remains valid.


Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:


No. 10. Legend of Kitesh, Section 306; Double bass solo, doubled first by the double bassoon, later by the bassoon. This example affords an instance of the rare use of the alto clef (in the last few notes).

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score


GPO Exercise - Example No. 10

This is a brief example from Rimsky's work where you can practice using GPO, working with balance, deciding on articulations, and inputing with your keyboard or notation program.

1. Load the Example #10 - Legend of Kitesh MIDI file into your sequencer (tutorials for loading GPO and importing midi files for various sequencers can be found at the Tutorials Page on the www.garritan.com website).
2. Load two instances of GPO either as a plugin in your sequencer or into your supported notation program
3. Determine from the score what instruments you will require for articulations or doubling (i.e. two wind instruments in unison would require two separate plr patches). For the score click here.
4. Load instruments into GPO instance 1 and 2 (preferable to break up the winds down to individuals, but not required as there are no unisons to contend with).
5. Load up what is needed depending on how much work you want to do (individual control or counting one as pairs, ect.). This example should not take more then a few minutes to set up and get playing as the tracks are labelled for recommended setup.
6. Record at a comfortable level. Keep an eye on the phrasing and markings (nothing really complex here, just a slight crescendo near the end).

Tip: With the tremolo in the Violins and Violas there is an accent indication at the beginning. One way to do this is to use velocity (hit the keys hard, well not enough to break them!) and have the mod wheel just a bit above the dynamic marking and immediately back off.

This example is very short (not many bars) and serves to familiarizes one in using GPO as a tool to practice these orchestrations.


No. 11. The Golden Cockerel, Section 120 - Double basses in melody doubled with the Double bassoons.
Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

GPO Exercise - Melody in Strings Instruments: Double Basses Exercise


In this exercise you will experiment with adding a double bass melody to a background track of winds and strings.

1. Click and refer to the background score here
2. Load the backgound track MP3 in your MP3 player or sequencer. For MP3 click here.
3. Load the Basses in Melody MIDI file and it's respective instruments.
For MIDI file click here.
4. Load the solo or section double bass instrument into GPO.
5. Play your own melody along with the background MP3 ir MIDI file.

Try doing your own melodies with the double bass instruments.

Professor Dwyer Comments: Writing for Double Basses:
a. Double basses on their own (arco) seldom, if ever, sound good, and should not be given an independent part of a melodious character. In strings only, if two low parts are required it is better to divide the cellos and let the double basses double the 2nd cellos. Or double the basses with a wind instrument. They sound acceptable if given sustained notes on their own however. And pizzicato basses always sound very good and can be given an independent part if necessary. It follows that the main uses of arco basses are as follows:
b. Resting. The extra foundational sound provided by octave doubling should only be used when this solid depth is important, as for example in a tutti. Unremitting double bass sound can fatigue the ear of the listener, especially in the lowest register. In many a passage the bass part can be left to the cellos alone, or to cellos and bassoons. There is nothing much wrong with page after page of rests for the double basses: when they are used they will be all the more effective.
c. Doubling the cellos an octave lower will be the main function when they do play. So when in doubt, that's the thing to do.
d. Doubling cellos at the unison. The higher strings of the double basses are far more effective than the lower ones, so when the bottom line is low, it is often better to double the cellos at the unison (i.e. octave higher on paper). In any case the cellos are a touch weaker on their bottom string so this could help, particularly if the melody is important.
e. Playing short notes on the accents (followed by rests). This is common in dance music of all kinds, in fact J. Strauss sometimes gives the bass part to the double basses alone, in short notes.
f. Rapidly repeated notes, in fact very rapid passages of any kind make too much attack noise unless slurred, (also the long strings take a little longer to "speak") and doubled parts which would be easy for cellos are often simplified into longer notes for the basses.




Next Lesson: Melody in the Strings (continued) -
unisons, octaves, thirds and sixths.


Copyright 2006 Garritan