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Topic: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

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  1. #1

    What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    If music is what feelings sound like, what instruments conveys which emotions? Thought it would be interesting to hear what fellow composers will have to say.

    What I am actually asking, is if you were planning on, for example, writing a sad, happy, action, mysterious, etc, etc, cue, what instruments would you always use ? What instruments are always used in a specific emotion.

    If there was a template for a sad piece, or action piece, or thriller cue... what instruments would be in that template ?

    Interesting to hear what you guys say :-)
    "‘The heights by men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight,
    but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night
    .’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow."



  2. #2

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Quote Originally Posted by moviemaestro View Post
    Hi,

    Your question is very interesting

    I'm not sure that there really is an answer to the question. There are instruments (example: Oboe, English horn etc.) that can be haunting and forlorn in sound, but they can also be jovial. I think that applies to all instruments...it's not the instrument, it's how it's used. Just my opinion on the matter.

    Take Care,
    Steph
    Ok, I guess I'll try to elaborate

    I think that a solo cello paired with a bassoon, can be one of the saddest sounds there is.

    For intense action, lots of Trombones and Trumpets, playing brightly.

    Mysterious? Low winds with strings

    Romantic? Piano, flute, strings...

    Honestly, I am not a believer in templates. Every piece is different, every situation is different and calls for it's own voice.

    Take Care,
    Steph

  3. #3

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Quote Originally Posted by moviemaestro View Post
    Ok, I guess I'll try to elaborate

    I think that a solo cello paired with a bassoon, can be one of the saddest sounds there is.

    For intense action, lots of Trombones and Trumpets, playing brightly.

    Mysterious? Low winds with strings

    Romantic? Piano, flute, strings...

    Honestly, I am not a believer in templates. Every piece is different, every situation is different and calls for it's own voice.

    Take Care,
    Steph

    Hi Moviemaestro,

    I agree with you about the template. What I meant by asking this question was to see if those with formal film score or classical composition training are taught what instruments always should be used to convey a certain mood.

    I am by no means asking, how to compose a certain piece and what instruments I should use. I am merely wanting to hear if those with formal classical training can pin point instruments that always should be used to convey a certain mood.

    But I agree with you. It depends on how you use the instruments.

    Lets see what others say :-)

    "‘The heights by men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight,
    but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night
    .’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow."



  4. #4

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Ah! I see...

    well, I guess I'm in no way qualified to answer the question...

    I'm sure others here will be able to give you the answers that you're looking for.

    Take Care,
    Steph

  5. #5
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Well, that question does not have a specific answer. I think that it depends very much on the composition and the performer. For instance, a trumpet can be made to sound bright and happy, but also sad or romantic. And violins can express about any emotion you want. There are, of course, some stereotypes, such as a bassoon as comic, but the bassoon has a much wider range of expression. Even a pipe organ can cover the range from majestic drama to light and fluffy, and comic. So, in good hands, all instrument can express much more than is commonly supposed. (Well, bag pipes might be an exception!)

    Richard
    Last edited by rwayland; 06-29-2008 at 06:50 PM. Reason: stupid error

  6. #6

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    The same piece interpreted by different people will hardly sound the same. Just think of it (and it's true both for a single instrument and for the entire orchestra), irrespective of the key and the mode of your piece, your emotions translate into a certain tempo, articulation, dynamics, phrasing, embellishments and sometimes even rhythm, that even the saddest piece from the point of view of melody and harmony can become quite cheerful in one's interpretation.

    I, for instance, still can't get used to the way Glenn Gould plays the Well Tempered Clavier, since what I think of as dignified and grave he may play as something lively and sometimes even mocking. That's what the art of the performer is about - interpretation.

    If I may suggest, just listen to your favorite symphonic works led by different conductors and be surprised

    Another thing you could do is try to concentrate on which combination of orchestral instruments is chosen for a part you're listening to and which feeling it conveys. Find your favorite sets of instruments for communicating different moods.

  7. #7

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empneo View Post
    Hi Moviemaestro,

    I agree with you about the template. What I meant by asking this question was to see if those with formal film score or classical composition training are taught what instruments always should be used to convey a certain mood.

    I am by no means asking, how to compose a certain piece and what instruments I should use. I am merely wanting to hear if those with formal classical training can pin point instruments that always should be used to convey a certain mood.

    But I agree with you. It depends on how you use the instruments.

    Lets see what others say :-)

    As one with that "classical composition training" I can assure you that one of the FIRST things we learn when studying instrumentation/orchestration is that while SOME composers used specific instruments to render specific "moods", there is no absolute clear cut rule regarding this.

    One composer's funny, lumbering bassoon is another's plaintive sad bassoon.

    One composer's melancholic oboe is another's sprightly happy oboe.

    The whole question is basically a non-issue, since, as you yourself acknowledge,
    It depends on how you use the instruments.

  8. #8

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    I would like to add that most performers will tell you that they can play any mood on their instrument as well. That is the fun (and skill) of orchestration. Trying to break the mold is sometimes the best option. Some of my favorite film scores don't do any of the cliches we often hear.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  9. #9

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    Quote Originally Posted by rwayland View Post
    Well, that question does not have a specific answer. I think that it depends very much on the composition and the performer. For instance, a trumpet can be made to sound bright and happy, but also sad or romantic. And violins can express about any emotion you want. There are, of course, some stereotypes, such as a bassoon as comic, but the bassoon has a much wider range of expression. Even a pipe organ can cover the range from majestic drama to light and fluffy, and comic. So, in good hands, all instrument can express much more than is commonly supposed. (Well, bag pipes might be and exception!)

    Richard
    Richard, you are right! I agree 100%

    Gunther
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  10. #10

    Re: What orchestra instruments conveys which emotion ?

    The Rimsky-Korsakov book on this forum has at least 1 chapter covering this subject. And, although they are only guidelines, they do give a known starting point which works well.
    It's a Viking thing.

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