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Topic: question on orchestration/arranging

  1. #1

    question on orchestration/arranging

    how do you guys go about it? do you take the traditional route and write everything out on paper before you hack it into your DAW? or do play with certain ideas and sounds and go from there? something in between?

    i'm referring to orchestral stylings, just to make sure. i'm working on an epic/romantic theme right now, and for the first time i'm writing stuff on paper before recording it. and while i do have a decent background in theory/harmony etc, it's quite the task to get everything i hear in my head on paper first, and THEN into the sequencer. i used to go the other route (getting inspired by bits and pieces i reorded and then take it from there), but that seemed to produce less realistic results, or should i say, less diverse in terms of dynamics, orchestrational ideas etc pp. (me originally being a guitarist with not exactly the greatest piano-playing abilities doesn't help much, either)

    so... i'm curious how the big guys do it :-) and... if you care to share any tips, i'm as always more than glad to learn from the pros

    greetings etc...

  2. #2

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    Hi bluepowder,
    I usually start on paper and then perform into the sequencer. Sometimes, if it's more beat-oriented and less sophisticated orchestrally, I'll just go directly into the sequencer. I'm a pianist, so I like performing the parts, in an attempt to simulate a rather realistic type of finished product musically.
    Also, by writing out on paper (as opposed to a software notation program like Sibelius even, which I personally find to get in the way of the speed and fluidity of creative realizations), I feel that I get a better hands-on experience to create the details and intricacies that orchestration will usually require at its climactic and/or counterpunctal moments.
    All in all, it just feels good to write on paper.
    So that's me.
    All the best with your work!


  3. #3

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    I typically sketch out either in the sequencer, notation software, or paper (depending on whether the final product is being played by an orchestra or is sampled), the primary aspects of the piece. The thematic material, the motifs, the form. Then I plan out what kind of orchestration I will be needing, and then usually fill in the rest with the sequencers and playing it in on the keys as well. (I'm a classical pianist too. !

    What I said might seem rather mechanical, but it helps organizationally to stay on cue, to have everything written out. Heck, even post it notes with what the pieces need to do on them. Most pieces have to satisfy certain points. Even if it is ambient, it has to allude to something, so knowing what I should be directing the listeners attention to, helps me create a more solid track.

  4. #4

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    ok, thank you guys for sharing your thoughts on the matter. much appreciated. anybody else?

  5. #5

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    Hi there,

    When I want to arrange a piece, I usually just start adding (playing/recording) all the orchestral instruments I want in the piece. If it's a melodic piece I usually put a melodic instrument first, i.e. Flute, oboe, clarinet, etc then I move on to the ensembles.

    I've found that the best way for me to get started is starting to play the main melody on the midi controller browsing through patches, then sometimes a certain instrument does it for me. There's no real science to it... If the lead instrument catches the mood, I go with it.

    Then for the ensembles, strings, brasses, especially french horns and then all the percussive instruments. It really helps to listen to other game music ALL the time which is the only thing I listen to anyway...

    I'm also only a guitar player, my keyboard skills suck big time. But I was fortunate enough to gather enough orchestral instruments here and learn to play them all so that I know how they feel, especially with the violin and french horn.

    I guess this didn't help much, but I only wanted to put my feedback in as I never write notation because I'm not good enough with it, I prefer the natural playing route


    Eric E. Hache

  6. #6

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    I mostly write notation direct into the computer with audio feedback (Overture). One note leads me to the next, and I imagine it before I write it. The feedback is mostly for control.

    I think composing can go two basic ways. First is hearing it with the inner ear and then manifesting it to reality. Second is to have something or somebody (hands on the piano or guitar, pre-factured ambiences, loops etc.) make more or less random suggestions and pick what fits best. Both have their pros and cons and may blur into each other.

    (Note that I did not say that entering the notes by keyboard into a sequencer means random).

    I mostly try to follow my inner ear and aural imagination as good as I can and fiddle around with what I wrote until it is what I imagined. Writing in notation can help very much developing this ability ... but improvising into the keyboard may be another another option.

    I think it is always good to change the method now and then. Always thinking in "first I write the melody, then I will find the chords" is not bad but the results can be predictable on the long hand. It can be nice tunes to writing some chords first and then the melody. Or by not writing any "chords" at all but thinking in voice lines. And so on.


  7. #7

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    A method that I have taught myself in the past 3 months is one that I was not used to. (I traditionally am used to writing in the fashion that Hannes described.)

    Separate the elements. It is hard to auralize/conceptualize, notate, realize, and orchestrate a piece all at the same time. What I do is hear the piece in my head, and then lay out the primary elements of the piece. When the piece is all laid out, I conceptualize the orchestration, writing down that at measure x, introduce elements 1,2,3. In this manner, I find that I am still allowing the creative parts of my music to work, but not at the same time in a conflicting manner.

    This is just a way that I have taught myself that works for me. I know people that prefer to do everything at once.
    Sean Beeson
    Composer for videogames, film and television

  8. #8

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging

    I will stop spamming this thread, but I do want to add that having a template set up for different kinds of music also helps.

    For example I have an action music template, along with an adventure music/platformer template. (In terms of a K2 mutli.) It isn't an end all, but certainly helps to be orgaznied

    Wil leave this alone now hehe

    Sean Beeson
    Composer for videogames, film and television

  9. #9

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging


    please keep on. Its very valuable.

    You mean you sketch the development of the piece in words, in a list or by drawing?


  10. #10

    Re: question on orchestration/arranging


    no spamming of this thread on your part has been detected by the almighty spamfinder's eye (TM), so if you stay around and share some more of your insights, that would be much appreciated :-)

    as to you your concept... that sounds a bit similar to what i was thinking about trying, but since it seemed too far away from the "traditional way" for me i haven't pursued this method yet. but seeing other's have similar ideas about organizing their workflow and being successful with it, i guess i will give this a thorough inspection and might go about things like this in the future.

    and about those templates... i'm not so impudent to ask you to share them with us , but may i ask how you went about creating them, what kinds of elements they contain etc etc? i'm not familiar with the concept of using templates for composing music, and that sounds like something which could speed up my compositional proces considerably, so, if you don't mind, i (and maybe others as well) would be deeply grateful if you'd give me (or us) a tiny little peek on how to go about that :-)

    and, finally, as usual, i'd like to add that all the input an opinions i'm getting here is so ever helpful and that it's so nice to be around here in the company of real gentlemen.. much unlike other places on the net where i discuss stuff from time to time... love you all



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