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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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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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: 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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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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