Diary of an Orchestrator, April 3: Back in L.A.

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 3: Back in L.A.

It’s close to midnight at the end of my first full day in Southern California. I’m about to shut up shop mentally, but have to write a few words about coming back to my birthplace. It’s strange, but I’m feeling a lot circles closing with this performance – returning to places where ideas and thoughts…
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Diary of an Orchestrator, April 2

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 2

8:38 p.m. I’m sitting in the rehearsal room, typing this as unobtrusively as possible as the LA Doctor’s Symphony Orchestra works out on the Elgar Enigma Variations. The rehearsal for my piece is well finished by now, but I’m just waiting for the break so that a few players can talk to me about bits…
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Diary of an Orchestrator, April 1 (April 2 NZ calendar)

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 1 (April 2 NZ calendar)

6:30 A.M. The lights of Wellington glitter jewel-like in the velvety blackness outside, making a circle around the harbor. I’ve been up since ten past 6:00, which is average for me. As my career has gotten ever more focused on orchestration, I’ve found myself getting up earlier and earlier in the morning, sometimes as early…
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Cello – Unison With Double Basses

Cello – Unison With Double Basses

Cellos need not always play octaves with the basses. A very powerful sound can be achieved by doubling the instruments in unison. In most classical scores, double basses in cellos get a single line, and are expected to play that line as written – which means that the basses will be playing an octave below…
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Cello – Registers as Defined by Clefs

Cello – Registers as Defined by Clefs

The three different clefs used by the cello serve as natural boundaries to its three essential registers. The cello has three main registers, which correspond quite well to both vocal ranges and their respective clef signs: bass, tenor, and soprano (actually treble clef). A wise orchestrator recognizes that these clefs do more than just setting…
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Cello – Sul Tasto

Cello – Sul Tasto

Sul tasto has less limits on cello than it does on viola and violin, and may also be used quite effectively on its two lower strings in combination with tremolo. About a week ago, I uploaded a video that talked about the reasonable upper limit on sul tasto, pointing out problems of fingering too close…
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Video Tip of the Week: Stratospheric Oboe Solos

Video Tip of the Week: Stratospheric Oboe Solos

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at @OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice. Tips of the Day for this week: Monday, February 18: Oboe Vibrato Speed Tuesday, February 19: Oboe Articulation Wednesday,…
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Oboe – Optimum Range

Oboe – Optimum Range

The best, most characteristic sound of the oboe comes from its middle octave-and-a-half: from F at the bottom of the staff up to B-flat above. This week’s tips on the oboe have covered phrasing and breath issues, along with extremes of range (the upper limits of which we’ll explore in tomorrow’s video tip). But it’s…
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Oboe – Slurring Up vs. Down

Oboe – Slurring Up vs. Down

Slurring up on the oboe is always simpler than slurring down. The above is a very simple statement for a complex situation. Slurring up implies a certain tightening of the embouchure, while slurring down is the opposite. But as we’ve seen with the horn, it’s much simpler to increase pressure smoothly than it is to…
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Oboe – Phrasing

Oboe – Phrasing

Use the oboe’s seemingly endless ability to phrase to its best effect in constructing powerfully phrased episodes, but never take it for granted. As I mentioned earlier this week, the oboe is a remarkably small device driven by the overpowered engine of the player’s breath and embouchure. In some ways, it’s the opposite of the…
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