PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION
by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov
CONCLUSION OF THE COURSE
Comments from Gary Garritan:
The Interactive Principles of Orchestration course is complete. This has been a great learning adventure for all of us.
To my knowledge nothing like this has been done before. Putting together 275 interactive scores in 26 lessons and offering them in an online community learning environment with online professors has been an achievement. This could not have been done without the talent, time and dedication of so many people.
It was quite a process getting all these talents together over the past several years to make this course. And the course evolved over time with the combined input from many people - including the participants. It was a community effort, shaped by the learners and reflecting what the participants wanted. What made this course a success was the responsiveness of the participants and the desire to learn.
And what a success this course has been! Colleges and universities have adopted this course in their curriculums and are using the course now to teach orchestration. There have been over 100,000 views of this course since it first began last spring.
This course will be ongoing. Anyone who wants to learn is more than welcome to join in and learn at their own pace. The professors will still be here to answer questions.and the material will continue to be updated. We are working on making a hard-copy edition of this course at the request of many educational institutions.
In the weeks and months ahead we have more courses planned. We are putting the finishing touches on them and will announce them soon.
Thanks you all for participating and making this pioneering interactive course a model for interactive learning. I hope this course inspires and encourages people toward the further study of music.
Concluding words from Professor Alan Belkin:If you have followed the whole online course, congratulations! Rimsky provides a very solid basis for a beginning orchestrator. Although we will be offering other opportunities to learn orchestration, I have a few comments here.
- Once you have learned what is reasonably easy to play, it is not hard to orchestrate tolerably. Because of the history of instrumental design, most of what can be played without much difficulty will sound at least acceptable. However, GOOD orchestration is another matter altogether. Because something does not sound like a catastrophe does not mean it is well orchestrated!
- Debussy said that Ravel had the most sensitive hearing of anyone he had ever encountered. Good orchestration is not only about what is obvious at first hearing. In particular, it is worth paying attention to what is going on in the background. An orchestration which merits repeated listening will show more interesting and subtle detail as you get to know it, and most of that detail will be in the background planes of tone. Learn to distinguish what makes really good orchestration REFINED.
- Real orchestras cost money, LOTS of it. Unlike GPO, when a non-virtual orchestra uses a tuba player for only 4 notes, they have to pay him for being there the whole time! Make sure you make reasonable use of the instruments you demand, proportional, of course to their role (the tuba player will rarely play as much as the concert-master).
- Many of the most important things in Rimsky are mentioned only ONCE in his book. Keep in mind that a real teacher would hammer away at these things again and again. Go over the material again and make note of the main PRINCIPLES.
Professor Alan Belkin
Concluding words from Professor Andy Brick:
Concluding words from Professor Terry Dwyer:Without a doubt, Rimsky Korsakov was one of the great Russian orchestrators during the Romantic period. His text, and this on-line representation of it are invaluable to anyone studying orchestration. Indeed, not only does his Principles of Orchestration explicitly demonstrate sound orchestral devises but, if one looks beyond the words, it shows us exactly how and why such devises worked. It is this demonstration, the lessons that are contained within the music beyond his own words that I believe is the key to understanding the true genius of Rimsky Korsakov.
Some may be critical of presenting sample based realizations of the musical examples within this course. Such criticism is not
unwarranted. However, just as one live performance may present dramatic differences from another resulting in a significantly different impression of any given example, so too will a sample based rendering. Absent a collection of live recordings of consistent quality for every example within the text, one is left in silence. This surely is not advantageous to a student of orchestration. And so, it is with great appreciation and admiration that I applaud Gary for presenting to the world this wonderful, if not groud-breaking, new edition of The Principles of Orchestration.
Although I have followed the course closely and use this edition in the university classroom, I have deferred comment within this on-line edition to my colleague Professor/Composer Alan Belkin. His words throughout this course should serve as a bellwether of wisdom.
Professor Andy Brick
I offer the following final hints to all orchestrators:1) The orchestrator’s finest tool is the bar’s rest. Use plenty of them.
2) Don’t write for instruments; write for people. Computer instruments never need breathing spaces; human players do. (So do listeners.) Computers can always hit extremely high notes; humans can sometimes.
3) If a prominent melody is not too difficult, sometimes give it to the second player of each pair (Flute 2, Trumpet 2, Violin 2, etc.) This renews their interest in the piece and they will play all the better.
4) Octave doubling is usually better than unison doubling. No doubling at all is even better, if the result works.
5) Never write a crescendo or diminuendo without an indication of what dynamic level it starts and finishes at. And always indicate dynamics after a rest of several bars, even if unchanged.
Professor Terry Dwyer
Concluding words from Professor Jim Williams:
I would like to add a few words as the course comes to an end...Concluding words from Professor Jeannot Welter:
My first word is THANKS to all of you who made public and private posts to me about the low brass instruments, how they work, and how best to write for them. Your questions were insightful. Stay tuned; there's more to come on low brass!! I promise...ALSO: PLEASE DON'T STOP DEVELOPING!! Just because the course is "over" doesn't mean that you stop working--KEEP GOING!!
My second word is THANKS, as relayed to me by many low brass players, who saw what I wrote about the instruments, saw what some of YOU wrote for them, and beamed with enthusiasm...today's low brass players are better than ever and await your further efforts!
My third word is THANKS to all of you who participated, in public or in private. Many of you have bravely subjected your work to public scrutiny--the comments were both kind and developmental--it couldn't have been done any better.
My fourth and fifth words are THANKS to Gary for putting this course online. He has stated so many times that his goal is to make music more available to people, and he has scored a big Peyton Manning Touchdown success(sorry--a Colts fan!) with this course. I'd also like to express my appreciation for Gary's allowing me to play a small role in this by copying some of the excerpts and advising on the low brass.
Finally, but certainly not least, THANKS to Alan Belkin for his pivotal role in helping us to develop our skills. He is both a powerful composer and a wonderful educator.
Again, as an educator myself, my parting words to my students every semester are that LEARNING NEVER STOPS, even when class is "over."
Professor Jim Williams
With the study of Rimsky everybody should have a solid fundamental knowledge of orchestration. To further develop orchestration techniques I recommend the study of scores by Debussy and Ravel, especially the scores that exist in both piano and orchestral versions.Concluding words from Professor Jonathon Cox:
Another interesting study is Ravel's orchestration of Moussorgsky's "pictures".
Prokofiev and Bartok are two other favorites of mine, sometimes they go against mainstream principals and are highly successful...
Maestro Jeannot Welter
Wow, I can hardly believe that we've covered the entire RK book. It seems kind of surreal. I remember Gary telling me that he'd like to do this project. At that time, I remember thinking how big of a task that would be, but if anyone could do it, Gary Garritan could.
Although I didn't comment very often, I did follow the courses progress from the beginning. I tried to field as many questions as time allowed and help in any way that i could. I hope that I managed to help.
Orchestration, in my opinion, is just as important to a composition as the melody and harmony. A properly orchestrated piece can be inspiratational. An improperly orchestrated one can be disasterous. It is a dying art that I truely hope becomes revitalized.
The course was very professionally layed out and implemented. I can forsee new classes in Colleges and Universities all over the globe using the newly updated and interactive RK Orchestration book.
I offer Mr. Garritan my deepest congratulations on this amazing achievement. It's just as revoltuionary to education as GPO was to Modern Music Synthesis.
I believe that the Orchestration course will be offered as a stand alone interactive course for schools to use. Hopefully, this will also be offered to everyone who is interested in the subject.
Once again, congratulations to those who created and to those who traveled.
Professor Jonny Lost
Concluding words from Maestro Petr Pololanik
The Garritan interactive orchestration course is not only a valuable contribution to his online community, but - I dare to say - a visionary way of education for 21 century.
Despite of aged Korsakov book, the principles of orchestration did not lose anything of its importance and topicality over the years. On the contrary: today, in time of sophisticated sound devices, they enable even users without elementary musical knowledge produce own compositions, the need of orchestration masters seems even more appealing. It is a time consuming and difficult way, but the only one worth pursuing if you're serious iabout orchestral music.
I would follow simple, but the more consice comments by Terry Dwyers. It is not a mastery to write a score so-called "experimental". It is not a mastery to write an instrumental part so difficult that unplayable. These are common "techniques" masking composer's inabilitiy to orchestrate in appropriate way. It is not a shame to consult the score with players and re-do it as many times, as necessary. In fact, this was the way the biggest composers were grown.
If you are serious in orchestration, there are some hints from conductor's experiences:
- orchestrate in your mind, at first; try to imagine the sound of every instrument in your mind before you hit a key
- use only *realistic-sounding* libraries (like GPO) to verify the score; don't play much with sample rendering - a good score will sound well even untweaked
- check with the players the playability and sound possibilities
- if necessary, re-do the score in accordance with (after) the orchestra performance
Enjoy the wonderful world of orchestration!
This online course would not have been possible without the help of many very talented and dedicate people. First and foremost thanks to Robert Davis for the Herculean task of realizing and sequencing all the scores with GPO. A big thank you to Alan Belkin for being the lead professor in this course and guilding and giving instruction throughout the course. Thanks to Sean Hannifin for doing all of the Flash work so that the music follows the score. Thanks to Alan Belkin, Terry Dwyer, Andy Brick, Jeannot Welter, Jim Williams, Petr Pololanik and Jonathon Cox for serving as the professors/moderators for the course. Thanks to those who made the various scores in Finale and Sibelius; namely: especially Bob De Celle and Lukasz Stasinski; and also Jamie Kowalski, Tim Cohen, Edward J. Fiebke Jr., Dave Budde, Jim Williams, Steve Martin, David Mauney, David O'Rourke, Jonathan Orwig and Tom Prince. Thanks to David Sosnowski for technical guidance and his support. Thanks to Dan Kury for the video editing and realization and Michael Sandberg for illustrations. And thanks to Mark Simon and Dave Burnett for hosting this course on Northern Sounds