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Topic: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

  1. #1

    The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Orchestration Challenge #20

    In a recent General Discussion thread I asked for ideas about what we could do with the next round of Sean's Orchestration Challenge. I'm glad I posted the question, because everyone came up with really good ideas.

    The hope is that more people of all experience levels get involved this time, and that more of us pause to listen to the results later on when the entries are posted.

    The basic concept for the Challenge series as created by Sean hasn't been changed, and now via email, he and I have agreed on the following parameters for this round, utilizing some of the ideas that were posted on the thread mentioned above.

    To make the Challenge something that people of less experience can feel confident about joining in on was the most important suggestion from the discussion thread. I hope I've cooked up a Challenge that fulfills that request.


    --Entries need to be between 1 and 2 minutes long. Short and sweet.

    --Entries need to use no more than six instruments, and of course those instruments should be either exclusively or primarily from the Garritan Libraries.

    EDIT MARCH 9: The term "Instrument" may apply to a group voice, so that a section of Violins, for instance, may be thought of as one instrument.

    --Entries must use the raw material posted below to convey the theme of "HOPE." So, for instance, to change the material into a minor key probably wouldn't be a good choice. What I'm offering as a starting point is Diatonic, and it's likely that to have it remain Diatonic will be most appropriate for supporting the theme of HOPE.

    --Entries are to based on the following Motif.

    There are SIX VERSIONS of this Motif. You may use as few or as many as you'd like, up to all six.

    I have the Motif in the key of C, but you are free to move into any key signature you choose.

    Also feel free to use the Motif in any way you choose, as long as it is prominently recognizable throughout your arrangement.

    The Motif may be developed into a Theme, or left as a fragment, ala the opening of Beethoven's 5th.

    TIP - If you develop the Motif into a Theme, add measures which logically develop the Motif into a melody. The Motif phrase could be answered in a way you see fit, and then resolved also according to your sensibilities.

    Besides the 5 time signatures of the various Motif versions (there are two versions of the 3/4 Motif) I have embedded different Tempi in the MIDI file, and they are indicated in the file's markers. Feel free to change the Tempi to whatever you want.

    Here are the 6 different versions of the Motif, and remember that you may use just one or as many as you want. They are listed in the same order you'll find them on the MIDI file.

    1) In 2/4

    2) In 4/4

    3) In 3/4

    4) In 3/4, alternative rhythm

    5) In 5/4

    6) In 6/8



    The MIDI file has all 6 versions in the one file. There are blank measures between each version. When you open the MIDI file in your application, you will clearly see where each version begins and ends.

    ANOTHER TIP - The rhythm of the phrase is part of the Motif. All of the versions begin with a rest, and that is an integral part of the Motif. The rhythm of the Motif in any of the various key signatures can be used by itself, for instance through percussion alone, and that would be a valid, recognizable use of the same Motif.

    I hope this presents a enjoyable little Challenge which you can find to work on. Have fun!

    EDIT: And - send your entries to Sean at seanthebest@gmail.com
    Considering the time and instrumentation limitation of this round, I'm hoping we can have the deadline be on March 16th, which is 3 weeks from now. It'd be great to not drag this on and on for months like the last round, do you agree?

    Randy B.

  2. #2

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    I don't want to be difficult, but are you going to mark this. Will there be points for including more motives, and instruments. Currently its based on the views of the listeners. Will someone listen to ensure that there are only 6 instruments, or will you take us on trust ?
    Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever
    NOW WITH Cubase 5, JABB,GPO, Fender Strat, Ibanez RG, Yamaha Fretless Bass, Framus Archtop, The Trumpet and Mr T Sax, together with GREEN SEALING WAX

  3. #3

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Hi, Buckshead - Thanks for taking a look.

    EDIT: I completely misunderstood your post, Buckshead. I'm leaving this response below, but am adding another one on a new reply so you can get the auto-alert email to see you've been answered again.

    Taking a cue from several pieces of feedback on the discussion thread about this, what I decided to do as the Challenge setter for this round, was to post only a fragment, this short Motif. It is indeed completely wide open to everyone to develop the Motif into a theme if they want, or to use just the Motif itself in whatever structure they want.

    Am I going to mark it, suggest other Motifs, suggest instruments - Well, no, because the whole idea is to compose and orchestrate a short piece on the theme of Hope using these notes as a starting point.

    It hadn't occurred to me to not take people's word about how many instruments they actually use. I can't imagine someone disregarding the request to use up to six.

    Here's an exception I thought of though - If someone was using a Brass instrument which has an Overlay patch available for it, the Horns, Trumpets and Trombones -to layer in that sound with the instrument would still count as one instrument, since the Overlay is an effect and not a bonafide instrument on its own.

    It sounds like you would like more structure, more restrictions and parameters, but my thought was that giving the very basic material for a piece to start from would get more people interested in joining in.

    Hope you work on this, Buckshead!

    Randy B.

  4. #4

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Hello again, Buckshead - hope you see my new reply!

    I misinterpreted what you were asking - I thought you were asking if I was going to be putting more information, more Motifs, "marking" out a score for you to fill in - I thought you wanted more structure.

    Oh man--I'm glad I happened to read your response again, because now I plainly see you're asking if the entries are going to be graded on some specific points--extra points for using each additional theme, points for each instrument developed - SORRRy I didn't get you earlier.

    Simple answer - No. It has to still get down to how the listeners feel about the work. Whatever grabs them in a piece for whatever reason - that decides their vote for them. And I think that's as it should always be with this Challenge event. The results of the voting are just like people reacting to music out there in Real Life. They tune in and "vote" for what they like, they tune out and don't vote for what they don't care for as much.

    If this was a music class, then I imagine specific criteria would be checked on, and students would get points for having fulfilled each thing, regardless of the musicality of their results. But this isn't so strict an academic exercise.

    Ok--NOw I think I've properly answered you!

    Randy B.

  5. #5

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Deadline for this should be up for a group decision, but I just now added to the original post that considering how much simpler this Challenge is, I think it'd be great if we had the deadline in 3 weeks, ending March 16th.

    Send your entries to Sean who will then post them for us:


    Randy B.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    I feel better now, Randy. You really cleared that up.

    Hust remember how to spell K I S S.


  7. #7

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    These challenges always sound fun. I'm going to make an effort to enter this time. Randy, how do you feel about chromatic alterations?

  8. #8

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post


    --Entries need to use no more than six instruments, and of course those instruments should be either exclusively or primarily from the Garritan Libraries.
    Maybe you should change the name too, no more an Orchestration Challenge

  9. #9

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Okay, I've gotten started, and have two questions.

    Do inversions of the motif count as using the motif? (I'm going to use them anyway... so just curious.)

    As another poster commented, orchestration implies multi-instruments. I am well on the way to completing what I thought was going to be a duo or trio, but it's sounding quite good as a solo. So, does a one-instrument composition qualify?

  10. #10

    Re: The New Orchestration Challenge #20 unveiled!

    Hello, everyone on this thread!

    After Challenge 19 finally ended, I had the thought that something a bit different could be done with Challenge 20 since there was so little participation in #19. The event used to attract a lot more people, but interest has seemed to wane. I also feel it was a problem that #19 lingered on and on for so many months.

    I wanted to get input from the Forum about what we could try for #20, and so started this thread:


    A lot of ideas came up there. I processed the input and then came up Challenge 20.

    The points on the discussion thread that struck me the most were that the idea of using a Motif, a short fragment, instead of a fully developed melody was an appealing idea. And the other thing I felt was especially important on that thread was that the contest should be appealing to people with less experience as well as to those with more. That's why I took the input exactly as given, to limit the length of these pieces to no more than 2 minutes, and to keep the number of instruments down to no more than 6.

    Answering questions that have come up:

    Henry Buck asks about chromatic alterations. As long as the Motif as posted is recognizably the cornerstone for your version, then any kind of development, including chromatic alterations, should be things you're free to utilize.

    Developing and mutating the theme through retrograde, inversion, harmonic development - all the devices possible can be freely used. I would suggest that no matter how you develop the Motif, that you need to keep the stated theme in mind - Hope. That word, Hope, can be interpreted in different ways - so musically stating your interpretation of the word is part of the challenge.

    Hong Kong, I've just answered your question about inversions - Certainly! Devices like that are tools of our trade. And you asked about using just a solo instrument, and if that would make your piece not qualify as an "orchestration." Even though the terms can be mean at least slightly different things, perhaps we should think in terms of "arrangement." Music for a soloist is "arranged"---and that certainly falls under the broad guidelines for what the Challenge series is supposed to be about. So, Yes!--certainly if you like your version as a solo, no reason to not keep it at that.

    Coriolano, your reply brings up something that has been an on-going discussion in regards to the Orchestration Challenge.

    It's often been noted that the themes posted are often developed so much that the results could be called Compositions. Some people have insisted on calling all the entries as Compositions. I've always considered my entries as "Orchestrations," even though I've always included a lot of material which was "composed" by me - however those new sections have always been inspired by, have been take-offs from the originally stated Motif or Theme. Like in my version of Challenge 19, my middle section seems only vaguely related to the original material - it was my improvisational development which sprung from working with what was posted.

    The winner of this current Challenge will be free to think the whole event over yet again. Maybe he/she will be inclined to post an entire melody which implies a specific chord progression. Maybe they'll want to post a handful of notes and instruct us to put them in any order we want - Whatever they want to do will be acceptable as long as it involves musical notes. I think we agree that we can't have a Challenge which only has a word as a starting point - for instance in this current Challenge, it wouldn't have fit the series if I had only posted the word "Hope."

    So, I don't mean to change the nature of Sean's Challenge event. I agree, Coriolano, that I'm asking for more Composition than is sometimes asked for. But as I said, many people have thought before that this should be called a Composition challenge--to me it doesn't matter. We're talking about using a stated group of notes as the starting moment for a piece by us - call it whatever you'd like.

    My hope is that even though there are a lot of Words here to explain what this Challenge is all about, that the basic Challenge is really fairly straight-forward and simpler than the series has sometimes been.

    Randy B.

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