2014 May Orchestration Challenge

2014 May Orchestration Challenge

Our first challenge will be an excerpt from Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, orchestrating the first half of the first Etude-Variation. For an orchestra, we will limit ourselves to the orchestra of Schumann’s own Fourth Symphony: 2222 winds, 4230 brass, timpani, and strings. Brass may be chromatic rather than natural, but timpani shall be limited to 3 kettles. Any approach may be taken of any stylistic period, and the source material arranged in any way, but the original idea of the music must be clearly expressed.

Please refer to the description and guidelines below for information on how to enter your work. I have supplied a jpeg screen cap from the original Clara Schumann edition of this excerpt, along with a Sibelius file and a MusicXML file. Happy Scoring!


For best results, Mac users should option/click on thumbnails to download.

Orchestration Challenge Description and Guidelines

Orchestration Challenge LogoDescription:
An opportunity to develop and test your orchestration chops along with other orchestrators at every level of achievement. At the start of each month (excepting January), an 8-16-bar excerpt of piano or chamber music will be posted on this page of the Orchestration Online official website. Entrants to the challenge will be given a specific orchestral ensemble for which to score this excerpt, with limitations on some instruments. Entries may be posted on the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback from other members and entrants (I recommend NOT looking at someone else’s entry until you’re finished with your own entry).

At the start of each month, entries from the previous month will be given an overview in a special YouTube video. General strategies will be examined, along with reasons why they may or may work. Unusually innovative ideas in orchestration will be featured, along with my own arrangement (which will actually be orchestrated before the announcement of each excerpt, to be completely fair to other entrants). In the same video, the next challenge will be announced.

Announcements will be made on the 5th of each month by video, along with results as described above. Score samples will be uploaded to this page on that day in PDF or Jpeg, Sibelius 6, and MusicXML format. All entries must be submitted by the 25th of each month.

Entries should be delivered in PDF format, and may be posted to the Orchestration Online Facebook group along with a hashtag, like #2014MayOrchestrationChallenge. I prefer this way, because it encourages dialog between orchestrators, and helps development. If you want to keep things off of Facebook, entries may be e-mailed directly to me at contact@orchestrationonline.com. Though the content of each entry will be considered the intellectual property of its orchestrator, participation shall be considered agreement for said works to be used as content in Orchestration Online videos and teaching materials.

Only one entry per orchestrator will be accepted – no endless revisions, please! Make your entry as good as you can, and then let it go. All feedback on these entries must remain constructive as well. This is not a competition – this is a challenge to test your own skills, and compare your approach to those of others. It is not only likely that you’ll make some errors, but it’s necessary that you do so. I shall probably make a few doozies myself.

No prize will be given, except your own growth and sense of accomplishment.