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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2018 Orchestration Challenge: Bartók (Closed)

2018 Orchestration Challenge: Bartók (Closed)

This event has now been closed. This Orchestration Challenge ran from 15 July through to 19 August, 2018. The entries of the following participants have been archived in the playlist embedded above: Website Subscriber Entrants: A – Arne Bremer, Erio Daja, George Owen, Jeremy Cullen, & Jerry Engelbach B – Jorge Isaac Merla Hernandez, Juan…
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Suspended Cymbal vs. Hand Cymbals

Suspended Cymbal vs. Hand Cymbals

(Tip no. 63 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2018) Sometimes composers treat the choice between suspended cymbal and hand cymbals as an arbitrary one, as if either might be used in the same situation. Or even more confusingly, the technique assigned to one actually would be better on the other. But…
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Duration of Double Bass Pizzicato Notation

Duration of Double Bass Pizzicato Notation

(Tip no. 85 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2018) Recently, I’ve seen a great deal of concern being focused on the scoring of pizzicato in double bass parts by composers in the Orchestration Online community. Of special focus are the precise nuances of duration. The following example was recently posted asking…
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Timpani Range Qualities

Timpani Range Qualities

(Tip no. 60 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2018) The range of timpani pitches has an emotional arc. In Tip 53 of my previous book 100 Orchestration Tips, titled “Timpani Tuning Shortcuts,” I provided a quick and easy way to check the range of possible pitches using the standard four timpani…
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Saxophone Score Placement

Saxophone Score Placement

(Tip no. 21 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2018) Score placement is a tricky and evolving thing for visitors to the concert orchestra – especially when that visitor isn’t a soloist, but a general contributor to orchestral texture and function. The saxophone can be particularly puzzling, and not just to developing…
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2017 Orchestration Channel: Ravel (Closed)

2017 Orchestration Channel: Ravel (Closed)

The Challenge: to orchestrate the piano piece À la manière de Borodine by Maurice Ravel The Platform: Facebook for general feedback, Patreon for video score analysis. After the deadline, professional orchestrator Thomas Goss will release a public video featuring in-depth analysis of his own version of the Ravel piece, also illustrating other noteworthy approaches by…
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Diary of an Orchestrator: The View from My Hospital Bed

Diary of an Orchestrator: The View from My Hospital Bed

I was hospitalised this year, but I quickly recovered. Around that time, I read lots of comments and posts about the externalisation of music: using DAW’s, whether a piano should be used in composing, and so on. Here is my commentary on the topic – how a trained inner ear can be used to compose,…
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