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Topic: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

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  1. #1

    OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Hi all,

    Midphase\'s thread has been terrific (Sampled Orchestra tricks). I thought I would start another thread that us \'newbies\' and possibly some of our pros would benefit from.

    Please share with everyone a short description of what instrumentation, devices,etc. that are used to support a particular \'emotional\' element that you are scoring to. For example (these are fairly obvious but I think you will catch my drift),

    1. Harp or vibes playing whole tone scale (dream cue)

    2. Sliding trombone (comedy)

    3. Major sixth interval (on most instruments) - (achievement)

    4. Celeste (Child-like)

    5. Wind chimes (magical)

    6. Hi string harmonics (cold - physically or emotionally).

    I know what some of you are thinking - \'there should be no conventions - just do what sounds right\' - that may be true, but we have to start somewhere and \'then\' make it our own. I just think a running list of these different types of devices we be an excellent learning oppty.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Rob

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Sometimes I think of instruments and what they play as colors. Low strings in a minor key sound black, Flutes and celeste sound blue, some brass sounds orange, violas playing low long drawn out notes without vibrato sounds red. It sounds weird, but that\'s just the way I use instruments. If I see a certain picture in my mind, or even on screen, I match up the colors with the matching instruments/playing styles.

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Sometimes I think of instruments and what they play as colors. Low strings in a minor key sound black, Flutes and celeste sound blue, some brass sounds orange, violas playing low long drawn out notes without vibrato sounds red. It sounds weird, but that\'s just the way I use instruments. If I see a certain picture in my mind, or even on screen, I match up the colors with the matching instruments/playing styles.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hehe, thats funny, I have always seen woodwinds as a kind of green, very natural types of instruments. I don\'t know why, I have just always felt this way. Brass for me has been more of a bright orange/yellow colour. Snares are white, bass and timps are black.

    There is no particular relevance to my post here, I just thought it funny that someone else thinks along very similiar lines. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Originally posted by greatzed:
    Sometimes I think of instruments and what they play as colors. [...] I match up the colors with the matching instruments/playing styles.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Sounds like you have synesthesia. Not a good or a bad thing... just a thing.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0003014B-9D06-1E8F-8EA5809EC5880000

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Interesting perspective - colors. We often hear of various instruments (and sections) as our available \'palette\' from which we paint our musical landscape - I just hadn\'t really thought of it so literally in the past. Thanks for kicking this off (this is just why I wanted to start this thread - get us all thinking in new a different ways.)

    Rob

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    \"Sounds like you have synesthesia. Not a good or a bad thing... just a thing.\"

    How cool, it has a name! I didn\'t know that ... Sounds cool, too! And blue. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    I definitely get the \"colours\" thing too! It\'s really quite vivid and complex, with many shades and textures.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Well, I\'m a \'newbie\' too, but I think any instrument can sound in any way. Of course there are conventions, or codes: Glockenspiel = childhood, Oboe = melodie espressivo. But a trumpet can sound sad, aggressive, joyful, abstract, and not only give us the military fanfare. Anyway, talking about colors there are also a lot of codes in harmonie or melodie or rhythm. Simpel example is minor=sad, major=joy. But not to forget the dynamics, because, piano can be sad too, or not, or piano can be just calm. Ok, where\'s my point? [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img] Hm, personnally I don\'t like to use these codes, but I think we have to be aware of them to use them in a conscient way, or to avoid them voluntarily. It\'s true as well that the codes might come in handy when you don\'t have the time (for exemple in film), you need to use the code to give the audience specifique informations in a direct way. Especially when the information is not seen on the screen.
    Hm, well I guess I have to much free time right now...I\'ll do some work [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Originally posted by Markus S:
    but I think we have to be aware of them to use them in a conscient way, or to avoid them voluntarily. It\'s true as well that the codes might come in handy when you don\'t have the time (for exemple in film), you need to use the code to give the audience specifique informations in a direct way. Especially when the information is not seen on the screen.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Very good points Markus. And just to further muddy the waters... There is a cue on \"Anna and the King\" where Anna is shown agonizing in solitude while her friends heads are being lopped off. The cue playing is some gorgeous melodic theme (very cool use of contrast).

    There are so many rules (to keep and break). I guess this is the essence of art. I would just like to make more consious decisions to do so (less by fumbling around.)

    Rob

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Orchestral Arranging Devices

    Another thing that is used is for the instruments to imitate the real world sounds. Fluttery flutes & clarinets to imitate birds singing and flying around for example. Timpani and percussion can represent large beasts walking or military marching to battle. In fact, Timpani are current versions of India war drums that were straddled accross an elephant. They were usually tuned in 4ths and played with brass instruments to signal battle calls. (much like bagpipes used to be used for) So, timpani and brass in major 4ths and percussion playing has stereotypically represented military adventures. Accentuated combat music can accompany a sword fight real well and the rythms are similar to the sword hits and swipes. Then if something or someone falls, the instruments tend to flutter and fall with them. Things like that.

    Here is an interesting anecdote about the Star Wars music that you may or may not realize. The main theme that we all know and love was written to be like a western theme. George Lucas and Williams decided the film was sort of a space western so the main theme is litterally a large Western Cowboy adventure theme. Just listen to it or hum it in your head you will see what I mean.
    Later
    Dave

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