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Topic: Rules of Orchestration

  1. #1

    Rules of Orchestration

    I have worked through the online orchestration lessons. I also have a hard copy of the Rimsky-Korsakov book. I review it on a regular basis. I am just wondering if any one can offer any tips on organizing any memorizing the "rules" laid out in the book. I see how they are organized by the author and it does make sense. But sometimes when I actually set about to the task of doing a GPO 4 orchestration I become aware that I may not remember all of the combinations that are described in the book. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Hi Richard,
    I would not worry about trying to memorize all "the rules"

    Just make music as you hear it in your head. Don't worry about whether or not you have stayed within the boundaries of someone else' rules.

    You can always post it here for the forum members to chime in with their two cents about what you did right and wrong. I don't intend to sound arrogant, but music is made for so many reasons. If you want to make music for yourself,... for you to listen to and to get gratification from, that's perfectly fine. If you are commissioned or paid to make music to be played by real musicians, then it needs to be accurately notated and arranged.

    Stravinsky started The Rite of Spring with a bassoon playing so high nobody in the audience could even tell what it was.
    He broke the rule with that one I suppose. That piece ended up to be so beautiful.... but then again... beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

    Like most "rule books", they are intended as guidelines.

  3. #3

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I guess I do not have enough confidence in myself as an orchestrator to make judgments that are not sanctioned by an authority on the subject. But I think you are right that by posting here I can get a great deal of valuable feedback on my efforts. I just wish I could offer more in the way of feedback so that I can give as well as receive.

  4. #4

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    have fun making music Richard!

    It is a wonderful gift to Make Music!

  5. #5

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music
    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music

  6. #6

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael A. Wiktor View Post
    If you compose purely from RK's book you may lean away from your own unique compositional voice.
    At least what RK himself was used to do with everyone else music.
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  7. #7

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael A. Wiktor View Post
    If you compose purely from RK's book you may lean away from your own unique compositional voice.

    If you have a good natural sense about crafting a work for orchestra, this instinct will nudge you to the appropriate time to use the RK resource.

    MOST EXCELLENT advise!

  8. #8

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Get RK in your blood and forget about him. Do something original. Maybe that will be the next standard of orchestration. Any doubt? Look at and analyze the pieces of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Janacek, Honegger, and establish for your own sake how much RK is in them...... You will see quite a lot, but -and here comes the craftsmanship of those mentioned-, they all used there own ears and ideas to make it sound like e.g. Prokofiev. So make your own sound.


  9. #9

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    I think all the advice so far is fair, but to balance it out the other way I'm a firm believer that one should study what and how composers did things in the past to discover best what works and what doesn't. Yes ultimately you should use your imagination and ears to guide you, but if you know what people did in the past to get a particular sound your ear is guiding you towards, it's alot quicker to get there yourself or discover something different based on what someone else did. Make sense?

    Also I would use caution when it comes to samples in realizing what a live performance might sound like. I think you have to use a bit of imagination in some cases to know how a live vs. sampled performance will differ.

    Anyway I think the RK resources here are outstanding but there are other orchestration books and resources. AND of course nothing substitutes for studying scores and listening to recordings!!
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  10. #10

    Re: Rules of Orchestration

    Thanks for all of the responses and encouragement. I do think I would be well advised to actively listen to more scores and recordings. I have much to learn. Thanks.

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