Orchestration Tip – Horn Bumping

Orchestration Tip – Horn Bumping

EVERYTHING YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW (BUT MAYBE SHOULD) ABOUT HORN BUMPERS If you were to ask the average seasoned horn player if there’s anything a composer needs to know about bumping, they’ll almost invariably tell you “No. That’s not your concern in any way. Leave that decision to us.” And yet with all respect…
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Orchestration Tip – Hobbits in the Horn Section

Orchestration Tip – Hobbits in the Horn Section

Recently in the middle of the current ongoing massive run of 165 evaluations for the 2021 Orchestration Challenge, it occurred to me just how much the horn section resembled the four hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. This happened in the middle of an evaluation, explaining the traditional roles of each horn player;…
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Orchestration Tip: Clarinet Textural & Melodic Blending

Orchestration Tip: Clarinet Textural & Melodic Blending

The clarinet is an excellent resource for supporting and colouring harmonic and melodic texture. (Tip no. 18 from 100 Orchestration Tips, 2nd Edition) The unique resonance of the clarinet’s registers are sometimes misconstrued as too individual to blend harmonically or melodically with other instruments. But a little score-reading will immediately reveal the clarinet as the perfect mixer at a…
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Film Score Access

Film Score Access

This post is an index of legitimate sources of film scores for study, as recommended by the Orchestration Online community and researched by me. If you know of an additional source I haven’t mentioned yet, please leave a comment; either below, or in the original

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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Percussion: the Right Instrument for the Right Job

Percussion: the Right Instrument for the Right Job

(Tip no. 57 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released March 2020) Percussion instruments of similar timbre and attack can be quite different from one another in performance. The orchestrator should factor in range, intensity, and colour in choosing the correct instrument for a specific role. It sometimes takes a while before composers get…
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Orchestration Tip: Harmonic Spectrum of Muted Strings

Orchestration Tip: Harmonic Spectrum of Muted Strings

(Tip no. 95 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released March 2020) Compared to a unmuted tone, a muted string tone suppresses the root and dampens the sheen of the tone; but still has a fairly strong body. NOTE: 100 MORE Orchestration Tips features several chapters which diagram the differences between muted and unmuted…
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