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Topic: Lesson 5 Discussion

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  1. #11

    Re: low 6ths doubling

    Quote Originally Posted by marnen
    A possibility: by virtue of being larger intervals, parallel 6ths are more likely to require lower notes than parallel 3rds, all other things being equal. Maybe what R-K is trying to say is that when doubled in octaves with violas and cellos, 6ths are more likely to go too low and sound too heavy than are 3rds.
    No, this is wrong. Thirds go LOWER, (think C-E, starting from the bottom notes of cello and viola), and are in fact heavier.

    Quote Originally Posted by marnen

    >>Brahms has plenty of low passages in small intervals, and, played carefully, they sound just fine.

    >Right. In small intervals. Sixths are not small intervals in this case, I think.
    Brahms uses plenty of sixths, as well as other intervals.
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  2. #12

    Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    Well...tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhlaHbej je [I speak Klingon also], and I'd have to say Russian is easier to translate from, at least in some respects.
    Marnen E. Laibow-Koser
    Composer / Web developer
    http://www.marnen.org

  3. #13
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    Smile Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by JPGIII
    I have a question for any experienced composers. When discussing the Melody in Thirds and Sixes the text reads:

    "The same arrangement [ , writing thirds doubled in octaves, the first and second violins should be used , ] may obtain in the viola and 'cello groups, but it is useless in the case of melody in sixths."

    Could someone explain why it is considered usless to use viola/cello doubled in octaves for melodies in sixths "useless." Did I read something wrong? I would think if there was a melody line in sixths played by the Violas then cellos doubling an octave lower would only add to the fullness of the sound. Maybe I'm just not getting it (... ok well duh, I'm not getting it ). If there's anyone who could explain it (possibly with an example) I'd be very grateful.

    JPGIII, this was somewhat puzzling to me as well. I understand that as a rule while it is quite common and effective (depending, of course, on the effect you are after) to double a melody line in octaves in the upper strings (e.g. Vns I and Vns II in octaves) or lower strings (e.g. Cellos and Double Basses in octaves), it is generally a good idea not to double a melody in octaves in the middle strings of the orchestra (e.g. Violas and Cellos in octaves)...unless, say, the entire string section is playing tutti in octaves (usually forte) or you are wanting to create a particular effect. The reason for this is while a melody played in octaves in either the upper or lower registers of the orchestra tends to strengthen and produce a "full" type sound, melodies played in octaves in the violas and cellos have a tendency to do just the opposite, and can often create an empty or dark feeling rather than one of fullness. If a composer wanted to strengthen a melody line in, say, the Cello's tenor register by utilizing the Violas, it is generally best to either lower the Violas so that they are in unison with the Cellos or consider transposing the Cellos up an octave to the alto register so that the Cellos and Violas are playing the melody in unison in the higher octave. If this is not possible due to the nature of the melody or the nature of the piece itself, it would probably be better to give the Violas something else to do or either simply give them rests.

    I wonder if this is perhaps why RK considers it "useless" to double a melody line in octaves in the Violas and Cellos--even if the melody is in 6th's in both octaves. Although there would be harmony in the melody in each octave (in 6th's), it is possible that the harmony would be too "open" (or have too many "spaces" between the notes) to create a nice full sound in this mid-register...or it could be that even though some harmony is present, the ear would still detect "perfect octaves" in the violas and cellos and the sound would be interpreted as "hollow" or "dark" rather than "full." The only other thing I can think of that RK may be referring to here perhaps has something to do with the difffering timbres of the Viola and Cello instruments themselves and how this difference in timbre might possibly somehow have an adverse effect on the orchestration scenario he is citing--?? I have not yet had the chance to experiment with this particular scenario of orchestrating a melody in 6th's and then placing it in octaves in the Violas and Cellos and so I cannot personally say at this point what psychological/emotional effects (if any) such an arrangement has on the listener. However, I intend to play around with it to find out for myself as now my curiosity has been peaked! In any event, I hope some of this helps.

    P.S. I just went back over RK's comments on octaves in the Violas and Cellos and he apparently does not share the same views as Forsyth (whose remarks I was undoubtedly recalling from my younger days)...so now I am at a complete loss as to what he is referring to!
    "The above remarks must not be taken as pointing backwards to the bad old days when viola players were selected merely because they were too wicked or too senile to play the violin. Those days are happily gone forever." [-Cecil Forsyth on "The Viola," Orchestration]

  4. #14

    Re: low 6ths doubling

    Quote Originally Posted by belkina
    No, this is wrong. Thirds go LOWER, (think C-E, starting from the bottom notes of cello and viola), and are in fact heavier.
    I think we're talking at cross-purposes here. When I said "all other things being equal", I was referring to the upper voice of the parallels being in roughly the same register. In that case, obviously, doubling at the lower 6th will go lower than doubling at the lower 3rd, and will thus create a heavier sound in some cases, particularly when further doubled at the octave.

    Yes, it's possible to take 3rds down to a lower range than 6ths, but it's not likely to happen in most orchestration (unless a special effect is desired).

    Brahms uses plenty of sixths, as well as other intervals.
    Doubled in octaves between viola and cello? Interesting. Where?
    Marnen E. Laibow-Koser
    Composer / Web developer
    http://www.marnen.org

  5. #15

    Re: low 6ths doubling

    I agree that in most of the standard repertoire, consistent parallels in ANY interval other than the octave (and in some styles the fifth) are quite rare in the lowest octave of the cello. I doubt there is much difference in frequency between 6ths and thirds.

    As to Brahms, he has a habit of filling up his low register quite thickly, not always with exact parallels, but often with various small intervalls in somewhat contrapuntal textures. That is one of the things which gives his orchestration its characteristic sound. Examples are all over the place; have a look at (just a quick sampling, as I open the scores):

    Sym. #2, first mvt., m. 44 etc. (violas and celli in close arpeggios)
    Sym. #2, last mvt., m. 66 etc. (here it's bns over celli)
    Sym. #3, first mvt., m. 124 etc, (celli and violas again, with basses ARCO underneath!)

    I realise that these are not melodic examples of thirds or sixths consistently DOUBLED at the octave between viola and cello - that is rarer - but the SOUND involved is exactly the one we are talking about: close intervals in the low register. It's hard to imagine RK doing this, however, given his own preference for more brilliant sound, unless he wanted to portray an elephant! With Brahms it is NORMAL. Also in his piano writing, by the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by marnen
    I think we're talking at cross-purposes here. When I said "all other things being equal", I was referring to the upper voice of the parallels being in roughly the same register. In that case, obviously, doubling at the lower 6th will go lower than doubling at the lower 3rd, and will thus create a heavier sound in some cases, particularly when further doubled at the octave.

    Yes, it's possible to take 3rds down to a lower range than 6ths, but it's not likely to happen in most orchestration (unless a special effect is desired).



    Doubled in octaves between viola and cello? Interesting. Where?
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  6. #16

    Re: low 6ths doubling

    Quote Originally Posted by belkina
    As to Brahms, he has a habit of filling up his low register quite thickly, not always with exact parallels, but often with various small intervalls in somewhat contrapuntal textures. That is one of the things which gives his orchestration its characteristic sound.
    I'm actually not completely surprised. Brahms certainly liked dark, complex textures.

    Examples are all over the place
    I'll check those spots out. Brahms clearly thought about the orchestra in a very different way than I do (Mozart has been a bigger influence on my orchestration), so I suspect I'll learn some interesting things from those examples.

    It's hard to imagine RK doing this, however, given his own preference for more brilliant sound, unless he wanted to portray an elephant! With Brahms it is NORMAL.
    Interesting, and it certainly makes sense. And come to think of it, aren't there a few Brahms orchestral pieces where the writing is so bass-heavy it either has to be handled with kid gloves or carefully thinned? I'm recalling this very dimly, and could be way off base.

    Also in his piano writing, by the way.
    Hmmm. The same texture often sounds less heavy on piano than in the orchestra. Perhaps this is an example of Brahms trying to write pianistically for the orchestra...
    Marnen E. Laibow-Koser
    Composer / Web developer
    http://www.marnen.org

  7. #17

    Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman
    Rimsky's writing is a little obscure here: I myself find it a bit puzzling. I think what he is trying to say is:

    Melody in 3rds doubled in octaves is OK between 1st and 2nd violins, or between violas and cellos.

    But melody in 6ths doubled in octaves doesn't work anywhere.
    I agree, this is probably what he meant. And as for why a melody in 6ths can't be doubled in octaves, remember that he's talking about doubling *both halves* of a split melody. Let's call the top I, and the bottom II. When the 6th interval is doubled an octave below, the I from the lower octave and the II from the upper octave will form a 3rd -- a much closer interval, which would probably nullify the effect of the 6ths and make it sound like a melody in 3rds, inverted. Like so:

    A
    C
    A - too close to the note above it
    C

    It might work if the doubling came from instruments from a different texture, but not with all strings.

    - George

  8. #18

    Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    Don't you mean Koechlin's own Traite de l'Orchestration here? Which is NOT a revision of RK, but an independant and very exhaustive treatise.

    Quote Originally Posted by peter269
    .

    Charles Koechlin, in his 1927 4-volume 1200 page 9 pt. type on a 9x12 page all in classical French revision of the Rimsky book as published by Max Eschig in Paris, called this, "the balance of the sonorities."
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  9. #19

    Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by belkina
    Don't you mean Koechlin's own Traite de l'Orchestration here? Which is NOT a revision of RK, but an independant and very exhaustive treatise.
    I have all four volumes. It IS a massive revision and masterful expansion of the Rimsky book. It uses Rimksy's outline and you can see that by comparing the subheads. Prior to the work going into the Public Domain in the US, Eschig copyrighted the book in the US around 1957. It goes into the Public Domain here in roughly 2032.
    Peter L. Alexander
    www.professionalorchestration.com
    www.alexanderpublishing.com
    Learn it right the first time.

  10. #20

    Re: Lesson 5 Discussion

    I beg to disagree. I also have all four volumes of the Koechlin, have taught from it, and used it for more than 25 years, and it is only related to Rimsky in that it (inevitably) covers many of the same subjects. Koechlin's volume 2, for example is an exhaustive discussion of all kinds of orchestral combinations, in a style which has nothing to do with Rimsky. Volume 3 discusses orchestral textures and issues like part-writing in orchestration in unbelievably more detail than RK.

    There *are* of course historical precedents for Koechlin's work: not just RK, but also, and very importantly, Gevaert, whose first book on orchestration was published (in French) in 1863. These works *all* have in common that they don't just deal with orchestration as the study of instruments, but also as the study of sound combinations.

    None of this is to take away from RK's importance; it's just that calling Koechlin's gigantic and generous work a "revision" of RK is misleading. A revision implies starting from another person's work, maintaining some of it as is, adding comments, etc. - rather like what is happenng HERE. Richard Strauss' revision of the Berlioz treatise, for example, IS a revision and is named as such. Koechlin also wrote huge works on harmony, counterpoint, and various other musical subjects. While they also treat some of the same subjects as other books, they are clearly Koechlin's own work, not "revisions" of someone else's.


    Quote Originally Posted by peter269
    I have all four volumes. It IS a massive revision and masterful expansion of the Rimsky book. It uses Rimksy's outline and you can see that by comparing the subheads. Prior to the work going into the Public Domain in the US, Eschig copyrighted the book in the US around 1957. It goes into the Public Domain here in roughly 2032.
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

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