Orchestration Tip: Bisbigliando is Vewy Vewy Quiet!

Orchestration Tip: Bisbigliando is Vewy Vewy Quiet!

(Tip no. 75 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released March 2020) No matter how much a composer might wish otherwise, harpists simply cannot play bisbigliando loudly. Most of the tips in this book and in the original 100 Orchestration Tips are about things you won’t find in orchestration manuals; or about things that…
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Bassoon A Extension Do’s & Dont’s

Bassoon A Extension Do’s & Dont’s

(Tip no. 30 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips) The use of an A extension may give you an extra half-step lower in a bassoon part, but it’s not without consequence. The lower limits of any orchestral instrument are constantly being challenged. Double basses have had their low E strings turned into extensions down to low…
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Woodwind Octaves, Part 2: Relationships Within Families.

Woodwind Octaves, Part 2: Relationships Within Families.

(Tip no. 4 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in March 2020) Exposed woodwind octaves using members of the same families of instruments can be very effective, so long as the registers are balanced in dynamics and timbre. In my lecture at Azusa University earlier this year, I shared a tip regarding exposed…
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Orchestration Tip: Divisi vs. Double Stops

Orchestration Tip: Divisi vs. Double Stops

(Tip no. 81 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020) Don’t assume that you always need to score double-stops instead of divisi in order to balance strings against other sections. A common challenge for developing orchestrators is deciding when to score divisi and when to score double stops (“non divisi”). It’s not…
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Orchestration Tip: Second Wind Player’s Roles

Orchestration Tip: Second Wind Player’s Roles

(Tip no. 2 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020) Give the solo part to the first player in most cases, whether high or low; and think of the second players’ roles as being supportive in the best way, rather than ignominious. “To what degree should second wind players should be given…
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Orchestration Tip: Saxophone Tonal Similarities and Blending, Part 2

Orchestration Tip: Saxophone Tonal Similarities and Blending, Part 2

(Tip no. 24 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020.) Similarities of timbre mentioned in the previous tip can provide a guide to the saxophone’s use in soloing, substitution, and textural blending. Despite similarities between saxophones and concert instrument counterparts, it’s important to underline that resemblances are not replications! No matter what…
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Saxophone Tonal Similarities and Blending, Part 1

Saxophone Tonal Similarities and Blending, Part 1

The similarities of timbre between saxophone models and orchestral winds and brass should be well-known to the orchestrator. When saxophones made their initial orchestral appearances in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, it was for their uniqueness of timbre, introducing what would have been an exotic sound into the standard ranks of the wind section. Despite…
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Orchestration Tip: The Case of the Disappearing Flute

Orchestration Tip: The Case of the Disappearing Flute

(Tip no. 06 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020.) The resonance of violins tends to absorb the sound of a flute an octave higher. This effect can be used to enhance the timbre of the violins. Once upon a time there was a young orchestrator who scored an exposed first flute line…
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Orchestration Tip: Viola use of treble clef

Orchestration Tip: Viola use of treble clef

(Tip no. 94 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2019) The pro concert violist’s capacity to read ledger lines is usually greater than a developing orchestrator supposes. Frequently changing to treble staff because of a few ledger lines isn’t helpful to the player. Another frequently-asked question is at what point should a…
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Horn Section Teamwork

Horn Section Teamwork

(Tip no. 39 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2018) Default to horns 1 and 2 as much as possible when only a pair is needed. In Tip 35 of 100 Orchestration Tips, “Horn Part Scoring Order,” (also available here on the website) I’ve touched on all the reasons why scoring horns…
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