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Topic: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

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  1. #1

    FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    The article alleges that top-notch orchestrators can earn $40,000 to $80,000 for re-orchestrating a classic musical to use fewer musicians. And it discusses the general trend for new musicals to have significantly fewer musical parts than those of earlier eras.
    Off the Stage, What’s Behind the Music

    The New York Times
    by Susan Elliot
    Published August 13, 2008

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/theater/17elli.html

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    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  2. #2

    Exclamation Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Wait, wait, wait... so the "composer" just let someone else orchestrate? Whatta fugue is up with that? Anyone can humm a melody. It's in the orchestration the real piece of art take form.

    yieks..
    Regards Danial Zainali
    ___
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  3. #3

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Quote Originally Posted by Felixissimo View Post
    Wait, wait, wait... so the "composer" just let someone else orchestrate?
    I know your tongue is in your cheek here. It's been going on since at least Irving Berlin, arguably the most successful and prolific songwriter and Broadway composer of all time, who could not notate music and who could only play block chords on piano in the key of F# (just the black keys). He worked side-by-side for decades with an arranger who wrote down the melodies and composed chordal accompaniments that Berlin approved of. Then it went down the food chain to orchestrators if it was going into a musical or motion picture.

    And the guy who first hummed the melody (and his publishing company) gets all the royalties, while the arrangers and orchestrators get paid flat fees for work-for-hire. At least in capitalist economies.
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  4. #4

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Such hypocrazy, a shame really...
    Regards Danial Zainali
    ___
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  5. #5

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    In 1985, famous country music songwriter and singer Roger Miller, who won 11 Grammys, wrote a Broadway musical called "Big River" based on Mark Twain's stories. Big River won numerous Tony awards and launched a small movement. I've read that his "composing" consisted of singing melodies over the telephone to the arrangers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_River_(musical)

    In 2001, the New York Times reported:
    "Roger didn't actually write music," said Michael David, another of the producers of "Big River." "He'd call up and sing the songs over the phone, and someone else would transcribe them. I still don't believe he ever read the book `Huckleberry Finn' before he died."
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  6. #6

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Hey, Felix, I'm taking this thread away from my own topic. I wanted to post this to discuss opportunities for orchestrators in musicals today, not to talk about how musicals have historically gotten written.
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  7. #7

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Shame? I don't think so. Maybe a shame that orchestrators don't get more credit. But I'd much rather hear the orchestrations of a master orchestrator. And, if I had composed music for a show, I'd be much more comfortable letting a pro reorchestrate it for a given amount of instruments than wasting my time messing it up myself. (Same with a film score for that matter... if I got to compose some film music, I would definitely want some good orchestrators helping me out. I'd probably waste time and money otherwise trying to do things that wouldn't work.)

    Melody may seem the easier task, especially when a good orchestrator makes it shine. But, in my humblest of opinions, not just anyone can create a good melody. But perhaps as composers we tend to enjoy our own melodies best of all since they are built upon the aspects of melody we enjoy the most, and is therefore the personally easier task, whereas orchestration can be much harder to get out of your head...

    Very interesting article!

    I know this is again off-topic, but if you can get someone to arrange your songs over the phone, more power to you! If you can afford it (or can luck into it), I don't think there's any shame to it. Just more evidence that we composers aren't really more musically "special" than others, just more dedicated to the task of getting the music in our heads out.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  8. #8

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin View Post
    Just more evidence that we composers aren't really more musically "special" than others, just more dedicated to the task of getting the music in our heads out.
    True that.
    Regards Danial Zainali
    ___
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  9. #9

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    I bought several books from Amazon about writing Broadway shows in preparation for writing my show. I was surprised to learn that the composers for musicals very rarely writes his/her own orchestrations. I just never knew that. I am doing all of my own - I guess because I did not know any better!

    Well, really it is a budget issue and I agreed to do it up front. I would LOVE to have someone else more talented to do my orchestrations for me. I will do the best that I can to put on paper what I hear in my head for the pit orchestra and for the demo CD.

    Charles
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

  10. #10

    Re: FW: New York Times on modern Broadway orchestrations

    The practice of having someone else orchestrate your score goes way back. For instance, George M. Cohan's musical "Running for Office," which opened in 1903, was orchestrated by one Charles J. Gebest. I doubt that Cohan was capable of orchestrating any of his shows. He supposedly did play the violin, but never beyond first position.

    More "serious" composers, on the other hand, have on occasion orchestrated their own shows. "Naughty Marietta," which opened in 1911 was not only composed but orchestrated by Victor Herbert. Leroy Anderson did both chores for "Goldilocks" (1958). Leonard Bernstein invariably did much of the orchestration on his shows (particularly the symphonic dances), but usually had one or two others helping him. George Gershwin didn't orchestrate any of his own shows (except for the opera "Porgy and Bess), even after he had started orchestrating his symphonic works. Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Frederick Loewe, Jule Styne--none of these very capable composers ever did their own orchestrations.

    One of the determining factors, even if the composer is capable of doing his own orchestrations, is time. As a show goes into rehearsal, new songs are constantly being added, even after it opens out of town. The dance music is not arranged until rehearsals begin and so it must be orchestrated during the final weeks. (Dance arrangements are typically done by the rehearsal pianist. The choreographer will say something like, "I want 16 bars of a fast waltz." The pianist will improvise 16 bars of the song being staged in a fast waltz and if it works, write it down. Then it goes to the orchestrator.)

    The composer usually gets to choose an orchestrator he trusts, but not always. I was talking once with Phil Lang (IMHO one of the all-time great Broadway orchestrators.) I asked him what was the first show he did. He told me that right after he got out of the service in 1946, Irving Berlin called him and asked him to orchestrate "Annie Get Your Gun." This puzzled me because I knew that Robert Russell Bennett was credited with the orchestrations on that show. But I didn't press him on the subject. Years later I was reading Richard Rodgers' autobiography, "Musical Stages." He and Oscar Hammerstein had been the producers of "Annie Get Your Gun." Although he didn't mention the name of the original orchestrator, he said that one day he decided that the orchestrations "weren't right." So he fired the orchestrator and brought in his own guy, Robert Russell Bennett. Ironically, ten years later, Bennett and Lang worked together orchestrating "My Fair Lady" because Bennett didn't have time to do the whole project. It was found that their work meshed together so well (they would each orchestrate different sections of the same song and then put them together) that they teamed again for "Camelot."

    So now, there is more information than you ever wanted to know about Broadway orchestrators. But if you do want more, I can go on indefinitely on the subject.

    (BTW, I always orchestrate my own music, none of which has ever been produced in New York. You see, I have more time than I do money, so I have the luxury of doing my own.)

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