Scores – Shedding Blank Staves

Scores – Shedding Blank Staves

Following on from yesterday’s advice about leaving in blank staves leading up to, or between instruments being used. Here is the other side of that equation – always reduce systems where instruments are dormant for long stretches. Shedding the blank staves helps the conductor’s eye to define the relationships between instruments and groups. It’s a…
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Scores – Blank Staves

Scores – Blank Staves

Sometimes, when a page of score can’t be reduced into divided systems, it’s good to leave some blank staves alerting the conductor to instruments about to make an entrance. Also, leave blank staves on a page if the instruments are going in and out of being used every 2 to 3 pages. This way, the…
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Clarinet – Octave Melodies – Caution!

Clarinet – Octave Melodies – Caution!

Use extreme caution when scoring octave melodies for clarinets. Be aware that the overtones reinforce each other with great potency. If you need an octave melody in winds but want to avoid such a pungent sound, try them with the clarinet as the top instrument over a bassoon or english horn, or the old Mozart…
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Marimba – Mallet Choices

Marimba – Mallet Choices

When scoring for marimba, be especially precise about the type of mallets and articulation you want, as different types favor different overtones. Watch the end of the Evelyn Glennie video I’ve linked below. There are intriguing possibilities with softer mallets, tremolo, and contrasting registers.

Strings – Mute Changes

Strings – Mute Changes

Always make sure that that your string players have plenty of time to put on and take off their mutes. Yes, this is a standard caution of orchestration manuals, but there’s more to it: you also have to provide some cover for the minuscule bustle as the players go about the process. Most players have…
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Orchestration – Horns and Winds Overlapping

Orchestration – Horns and Winds Overlapping

When overlapping a wind chord into a horn chord, try dropping some of the horn notes by an octave, especially if the wind chord had clarinets on top. The overtones from the horns will blend seamlessly into the timbre of the clarinets – but you have to balance the dynamics carefully!