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Topic: Orchestrate vowels?

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  1. #1

    Orchestrate vowels?

    Hi there
    I've listened to a few orchestrated piece where this effect occurs as if the sound becomes a life like human voice quality for but a brief moment, but it isn't. More so in movie score than classical music. Unfortunately I don't have a musical example on my hand.


    Can anyone give me a hint or two how to achieve this?
    Of course I could do the math, get each pitch and sonic structure of each harmonic in a vocal vowel.
    But thats too much work.


    There must be a certain way of layering various instrument at certain pitches to achieve that effect. As each human vowel got a certain general pitch. O is always lower than E, E is always lower than I, U is even lower than them all.
    The secret is layering the various instruments at specific harmonic order.

    Perhaps: Bass at the root, bassoon about a third higher and trombone (or any brass) even higher but very quietly, just to give it some character. But thats just a raw example guess.
    Another characteristic got to be a sonic shift that creates the actual "perciption as vocal". A change in the sound, where it comes from where it goes to. If you blend out the brass and add a very deep mute trombone it would trick your mind and make you think of the human mouth. I.e. the vocal sound of "AAAEEEEEE"



    Thats a very interesting subject.
    Isn't the secret goal of every performance composer to make the sound as lifelike / human as possible?


    So is this all just a perceived phenomena happening accidentally, or can one indeed simulate basic human voice vowels with orchestra instruments ?

  2. #2

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Hmmm, I've never noticed an orchestral sound I would characterize as being vowel like-- You mean a real orchestra, not electronic production tricks, right?

    Randy

  3. #3

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaMaster View Post
    I've listened to a few orchestrated piece where this effect occurs as if the sound becomes a life like human voice quality for but a brief moment, but it isn't. More so in movie score than classical music. Unfortunately I don't have a musical example on my hand.
    There is a brief passage about 2 1/2 minutes into the 5th movement of Mahler's 2nd symphony that, to me, sounds like women's voices. It's a passage of descending tremolo strings over very soft woodwinds (I think - I don't have a score). I've heard this effect in multiple recordings, but not all recordings, and never at a live performance. I've always assumed it was an artifact of the recording or playback process.

    I have enough of a hearing loss now that I can no longer trust what I hear, but I first noticed this in my late teens or early twenties - back when I had ears that actually worked - and looked at a score to confirm there were no singers at that point.

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaMaster View Post
    Isn't the secret goal of every performance composer to make the sound as lifelike / human as possible?
    Sounding "lifelike" and sounding vocal are two very different things. I doubt that very many composers of instrumental music have a secret desire to make their music sound vocal. Why would they? Nothing's wrong with instrumental music and nothing is automatically good about vocal music.

    Pat

  4. #4

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    There is a brief passage about 2 1/2 minutes into the 5th movement of Mahler's 2nd symphony that, to me, sounds like women's voices. It's a passage of descending tremolo strings over very soft woodwinds (I think - I don't have a score). I've heard this effect in multiple recordings, but not all recordings, and never at a live performance. I've always assumed it was an artifact of the recording or playback process.

    I have enough of a hearing loss now that I can no longer trust what I hear, but I first noticed this in my late teens or early twenties - back when I had ears that actually worked - and looked at a score to confirm there were no singers at that point.
    Pat
    I believe the particular passage you are referring to is 1st and 2nd violins, divided into 3 parts each, playing trills... chords, trilled, especially in the high strings, has a VERY peculiar sound, and yes, it almost sounds like a ghostly womens chorus blended in there.

  5. #5

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy View Post
    I believe the particular passage you are referring to is 1st and 2nd violins, divided into 3 parts each, playing trills... chords, trilled, especially in the high strings, has a VERY peculiar sound, and yes, it almost sounds like a ghostly womens chorus blended in there.
    That sounds like the passage all right. Thank you for using the term "ghostly"; that describes it very well.

    Pat

  6. #6

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Yes thats true, at 2:47 into the 5th movement of Mahler's second
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWP9byshDH4

    sounds like female voices.
    Allthough there IS a choir somewhere in this performance I believe the effect is solely achieved by instrumental sounds.

    Strings playing a descending order of trilled notes, there is a alto- or bass-flute on the right side.
    I think there is also an oboe on the left side blending in and out for each bar playing unison or a harmony of the strings.
    This is probably a reason creating the human like quality.

    Can anyone specify more to that part?
    What kind of chords or harmonic progression?

  7. #7

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    page 141 (in the PDF, it's actually the 8th page)

    http://imslp.eu/linkhandler.php?path...ch._score_.pdf

    Flute, clarinet, bassoon, 2 harps,

    no oboe, no alto flute.

    just the 1st and 2nd violins, as I said, each divisi in 3, con sord.

  8. #8

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Way off topic, but ...

    Oh man! I discovered IMSLP just a few months ago and had no idea until now that they have full orchestral scores. I haven't had (or didn't know I had) access to symphonic scores since I was in college 45 years ago. Sheesh.

    Pat

  9. #9

    Re: Orchestrate vowels?

    Thanks a bunch for the score, I appreciate.

    But I didn't exactly ask for that ghost like vocal effect.

    Any other suggestions of human voice like effects?


    I can only say: I've listened to several classical pieces (yes classical or at least instrumental only, mostly symphonies)
    over the past years. Whenever such effect happens it jolts a chill down my spine.
    That won't just happen like that.

    I've also once heard a piano performance done so well, it sounded like a flute for a splint second. Again, can't remember where *duck*

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