Clarinet Octave Melodies

Clarinet Octave Melodies

Use extreme caution when scoring octave melodies for clarinets, and be aware that the overtones reinforce each other with great potency. (Tip no. 17 from 100 Orchestration Tips) Octave melodies for wind instruments of the same model are generally problematic. Rimsky-Korsakov gently advises against their use, though he opens the door for doubling by auxiliaries at…
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Strings: Slurring/Rearticulating Glissandos

Strings: Slurring/Rearticulating Glissandos

When to add a slur over a glissando mark – and when not to. (Tip no. 91 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020.) One of the most common bugaboos of the developing orchestrator is the unintentional ambiguity of their string glissando scoring. I see this all the time: a composer has scored a…
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Orchestration Tip: Harmonic Spectra of Xylophone vs. Marimba

Orchestration Tip: Harmonic Spectra of Xylophone vs. Marimba

(Tip no. 68 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips) The reasons why xylophone can hold its own in an orchestral tutti and a marimba can’t are literally carved right into the instruments. Similar to some previous tips, here’s some information about mallet percussion that didn’t make it into 100 Orchestration Tips. Sometimes, really understanding an acoustic phenomenon helps a…
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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 Extended Fingering Range

Cello Extended Fingering Range

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. (Tip no. 90 from 100 Orchestration Tips) About a week ago, I uploaded a video that talked about the reasonable upper limit on sul tasto, pointing…
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