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Topic: HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p

  1. #1

    HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p

    I'm writing a series of variations on themes from Harry Potter. Naturally I want my sound to have continuity with Williams' own orchestration techniques. I'm using the same size orchestra (triple WW, 4-3-3-1 brass). The RK course has already been a great help!

    The piece starts with a celesta quoting the main theme verbatim followed by a short cadenza. Then other instruments join in. Here's a midi sketch starting from that point, unorchestrated as yet:


    And a small snapshot:


    Principles I want to communicate in this passage:

    1. The IV (instead of iv) in m. 5 is a deliberate change from the usual statement of this theme, so that should be highlighted.

    2. The solo celesta should transition into a "light/airy" orchestration in m. 3-10, then a "powerful/foreboding" orchestration in m. 10-16.

    3. It should generally sound like a Williams score.

    And here are my Preliminary ideas on how to orchestrate this passage, after reading the Orchestration guide and listening to the HP soundtracks. I refer to the staff names not the actual order of the staves:

    Celesta RH for Staff 5, doubled 8ve lower by Vln I from m. 3 onwards (this line continues to the ending shown - the 5 blank measures will be filled).

    Celesta LH for Staff 3.

    Cello pizz. for Staff 2, switching to arco and 8ved below by Double Bass at m. 11.

    Horn / Flute for Melody upper and lower lines.

    Muted Tpt. + Oboe for Staff 7.

    3 Trombones + Tuba for Staff 6.

    My concerns with this possible arrangement:

    1. I feel like the IV "surprise" does not come through clearly enough with just the triplet counterpoint and the cello pizz. Should I add something here? Perhaps vla. pizz together with cellos but on different notes of the chords?

    2. There seems to be a dischord in m.6 but I'm not sure how to fix that F vs. E.

    3. Assuming the violin line stays within the established range (remember, 8ve lower than shown), will the passage from m. 10-16 sound coherent? Do I need to add instruments to fill any gaps? I'm wary of making this section sound too loud, as it's only about 30-40 sec. into the piece.

    4. I'm open to suggestions about re-orchestrating the two melody lines (Staff "Melody" and Staff 7). Initially I wanted Ob+Fl on Melody but it seems too low for both instruments. I also feel like Hn. would be a more appropiate choice than Tpt for staff 7 but I want to create contrast between these two sections. Suggestions?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2

    Re: HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p


    just wanted to let you know that I can not read all of your text on my internet PC with 1068x768 pixels.

    Which is a fault of the forum software that obviously accepted your big screenshot but did not add a horizontal scrollbar.
    All your strings belong to me!

  3. #3

    Re: HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p

    Quote Originally Posted by WhitmanComposer
    2. There seems to be a dischord in m.6 but I'm not sure how to fix that F vs. E.
    As #2 is more of a harmony than an orchestration question, I think I can jump in here..

    Though I do not have the music for this, it looks like you have changed what I recall was a continuing pizz E pedal in Williams' original to an A in m.5. That is screwing up your m.6 note because it is no longer an E pedal but an E appogiatura.

    If you restore the pizz E in m.5 you should find the dissonance in m.6 is just fine as the pizz E is just a pedal point. Or, as another option, you could change the pizz note to a B in m.6 (implying V and making a consonant 5th with the F# in the melody rather than a dissonant second) and leave m.5 alone, however it may sound less "restrained" than Williams' original does in that part due to the pedal being removed.

  4. #4

    Re: HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p


    Hannes: I fixed the screenshot, it's now a link.

    Dalek: I tried both ways and like the E-pedal better than the A-B motion. Thanks! For some reason I couldn't figure that one out... mostly I'm just working on the orchestration now, for this and similar passages.

  5. #5

    Re: HWWO? (How Would Williams Orchestrate?) :p

    For making the A major chord stand out, you could put an A major harmony in 3 horns and have them play a light mf > p decrescendo on the triad, perhaps muted (just like in Mahler's 6th.) Another option is to put some counterpoint in measure 5, for example, a solo horn echoing the melody down low, but in A major. I wouldn't start on A (going A C# B A) but instead start on C# (going C# E D# C#)

    The C7 chord in measure 10 sounds a bit off. Maybe Bb7/Ab or Bb7/F would work better, or no change at all.

    If you're ever worried a section is too light, chances are it is. The violins can handle the melody, so maybe what you need is the violas to play some light tremolo, or some soft harp arpeggios using the plucked basses as a starting point.

    The melody doesn't look too bad for flute and oboe in the upper register, but down the octave you might want to use bassoon, clarinet, bassoon, or even bass clarinet.

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