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Topic: Concert Band Orchestration

  1. #1

    Concert Band Orchestration

    Anyone know of any good books on Orchestrating for a Concert Band? If not, some helpful hints would be very appreciated (in fact, hints would be preferred, since they're free). I'm planning on attempting to transcribe Venus, the Bringer of Peace for Concert Band.

  2. #2

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    So, in terms of not tiring the listener as well as the player, would a fairly constant change of foreground and background be wise? In the orchestra, one would simply fall back on the strings because they can be nearly impossible to tire of.

  3. #3

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    And another thing, what are the timbrel properties of a saxophone in a concert band (such as, can one sometimes substitute for a Horn part you don't have enough Horns to play?)? I'm using JABB for the saxophones cause I don't have Garritan Concert Band yet, and the saxophones in JABB are just way too...jazzy...for Venus, the Bringer of Peace. There's six Horn parts in Venus btw.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    South of the Ohio River

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    In answer to your first question - variety is the spice of life . . . and of music. Keep that in mind as you plan your writing.

    Secondly, saxes can double horn parts occasionally but if you lack horns in your setup I would suggest using either a trombone or a trumpet in it's lower range. Those would more closely approximate the brass sound of the horn . . . but . . . they will not sound completely like horns. If you don't have COMB yet but do have it on the way I would wait for it to arrive. Otherwise, maybe look for some horn sounds available in other libraries.

    BTW, you will like COMB but it does take some learning to get the most out of it. I've had it for 9 months and I'm still in the infancy stage of learning how to tame the beast. You can do some marvelous things with it.
    Dayton, Kentucky
    Personally, I'm waiting for caller IQ.

  5. #5

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    Actually...I'm thinking of giving the trombones and bassoons the parts, and distribute the current bassoon part among the other low woodwinds, or just ignore it, it's really just doubling the low strings, which I gave to the Euphonium, Tuba, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax, and Contrabassoon (I'm not sure if most Concert Bands have a Contrabassoon though, if not, the Tuba will have to suffice). I gave the beautiful Solo Violin part to a Solo Trumpet, and it worked out particularly well. I suppose the hardest part about it is working out how to redistribute the harmonies, as the original has four Flutes, three Oboes, English Horn, three Bb Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, two Bassoons, and Contrabassoon. The only two of these I'm not hurting on is the Clarinets and Bassoons, and I have the saxophones, which is a trick trying to get those to blend (they are jazz saxophones though...). I'll put the score on my northernsounds.net site once it's done. It's about a quarter of the way done though.

  6. #6

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    The problem isn't that of the players, but that of uncertainty. I'm not sure what the precise instrumentation of the band will be, as I'm not writing it for any particular band (and I'm not in one, I only play piano, guitar, and a tad bit of recorder). I do, however, think it's an important skill to master, since I'm heading into a musical career, probably in teaching, but I'd like to write for orchestra and possibly for concert band. So really I'm trying to make a transcription that nearly any concert band could perform. I think the biggest problem is that there are two harps in the original (and I'd like to at least have the string sound). So what I did was I turned it into one harp and one piano with arpeggiated chords, and I offered a guitar transcription for the harp one octave below (which doesn't really do anything to the sound surprisingly). I know they don't use piano and guitar a whole lot in concert band material, but at least both instruments are more available than two harps, and in most bands, someone will know how to play one of those instruments. It's a little harder to find someone who can play harp in the everyday band... Oh and I'm writing this for high school level.

  7. #7

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    For anyone interested in some tips on what would work better than what I'm saying I did, here's the score: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usim...5434-Venus.pdf

  8. #8

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    I heard this played by a school band once, but unfortunately the arrangement was not very good. Hopefully you can produce something better .

    Pianos are usually avaliable in concert bands (NOT marching bands), but seldom guitars. It should not be a problem to transcirbe both harp parts and the celesta to just one piano though. Note that full orchestras often use two or more harps simply to get access to more notes, because of the limitation of hand reach and the harp tuning system. In this case, the harp parts 10 bars before VII could be exactly reproduced by adding the bass note of part II two to the 16th rest of part I, and playing everything with the pedal down.

    The biggest problem I can see seem to be the ending (VII and onwards). It is in strings and harps, very high, pp and morendo. Most winds and notably flutes will get very loud in their highest register, so this section will require a lot of care too sound good. Probably the best go is to use oboes and clarinets for the upper parts, maybe revoicing the chords slightly.

    edit: typo

  9. #9

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by pgfan92 View Post
    Anyone know of any good books on Orchestrating for a Concert Band? If not, some helpful hints would be very appreciated (in fact, hints would be preferred, since they're free). I'm planning on attempting to transcribe Venus, the Bringer of Peace for Concert Band.
    An excellent ( possibly out of print, but could be searched through Amazon ) book on the principles of scoring for Concert Band is a book by Joseph Wagner titled BAND SCORING ( McGraw & Hill )

    Check it out.

    -- atonal

  10. #10

    Re: Concert Band Orchestration

    On thing about the harp part is that in most of this piece there are other instruments playing the same part but you should include a harp and/or piano part for those band with them or include a vibraphone piece using smaller chords. Changing the foreground is a good idea but watch out on what instruments you give it to. The clarinet section can hold notes for a long time if you need a break for the rest of the band; or try alternating from the flute section to the clarinets to the trumpets not only will this allow the other band members time to rest but also provides a change in tone.

    Hope this helped

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