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Topic: Colouring Book

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    UK - London - Ealing

    Colouring Book

    I was wondering as a newbie, as I have all these orchestral tunes in my head I just do not know where to start to achieve the colour or effects.

    I probs can get the notes down, but I can never reproduce how I want it to sound from my head to score.

    I listen to a lot of Classical Music and sit and think - what instruments where used to create that colour - even down to a set of brass chords.

    I was wondering of clipping the bar from scores and posting on my website to see if other users could recipe how the tonal effect was produced.

    Now, I am not sure if this is a barking mad idea, or if it has been done before or do I really need to study music for years?

    I sure a Colouring Book would be ideal - for example - War is always timpani, cymbals, Double Bass, Horns Cello and some string (not sure if Violins or Violas)

    I have so far I think the important dimensions of music as being

    1 - Tune - Harmony
    2 - Colour - Each instrument can have take on a character or role
    3 - Dynamics
    4 - Ambience
    5 - Rhythm

    Am I going in the right direction or have I missed something and is the idea of a 'cook book' unrealistic?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    NW Illinois

    Re: Colouring Book

    I you haven't already, I'd suggest that you work through the Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration lessons. It sound like just what you're looking for.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Colouring Book

    You know Mik, Jeff is absolutely right! And, not to take away from your post, since I am going to have a ton of time on my hands soon I will finally have the chance to take advantage of the lessons! I would support Jeff's suggestion Mik to go through the lessons. It's free and can only benefit!

  4. #4

    Re: Colouring Book

    After several years of composing with GPO, I still can't achieve the orchestration I hear in my head. I think it's a skill that takes a heck of a lot of practice and experience (and maybe being really picky with an orchestra ).

    One thing that I have found fun is to take a score by a famous composer, say Tchaikovsky, and copy his orchestration almost instrument for instrument, but then change the melody and harmony, and then change the tempo, and then change the orchestration too, and slowly morph it into something else. You can kind of see how that composer achieves some of his effects, while experimenting. (Though usually the harmony is what gets me confused. )

    I'm not sure there are any "cook books" that would definitely pair something like "war is always timpani, cymbals, Double Bass, Horns Cello, etc." ... that's so much more a composer's choice, and I'm not sure composers are always thinking in terms of real-world imagery anyway. If you bake chocolate chip cookies, there may be some variations in the recipes, but the ingredients are often quite similar... you need butter or margarine, you need salt, you need chocolate chips... but with music you're much more free with your orchestration choices. Lower pitch instruments that can be loud might sound like "war" many times, but I'm not sure any specific orchestrations like that have been so traditionalized that a music book writer would mention them.

    The Rimsky-Korsakov lessons are definitely worth a look, they might be just what you're looking for. There's a lot of great material there!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #5
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Suburban NYC

    Re: Colouring Book

    Hi gang,

    Another thing I have found is that sometimes I have exactly the correct instrumentation and voicing, but the current mix prevents it from happening. I'm always amazed when I may then boost the 3rd trumpet and lower the bass clarinet ... voilà! ... I finally get the sound I'm striving for without changing a single note.

    I always mix as I go while developing an arrangement, but sometimes you forget and go a bit farther than you think you have without re-balancing and you can deprive yourself of hearing an otherwise good voicing.

    God knows there's a thousand things that can affect your piece, but thought I would pass-on this tid-bit from experience.



  6. #6

    Re: Colouring Book

    I'll also recommend that you get ahold of as many orchestral scores as you can, then study them obsessively, following along with recordings if possible.

    A humungous number of free scores are available here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page
    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

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