Strings – Melodic and Rhythmic Bowing

Strings – Melodic and Rhythmic Bowing

Learn to recognize the the standard approach of bowing as applied to typical rhythmic and melodic gestures. One thing that orchestrators come to understand is that bowing is a lot like breathing, or like waves on the beach. The bow goes up and down – what a simple way of explaining the process – and…
Read more…

Strings – Skips of Position

Strings – Skips of Position

Use caution in wide skips of position, especially where a slur is involved. This is another common error for a beginning composer, related to the past two tips. Let’s review quickly: a set of finger positions dictate the pitches to be played; and bowing must be worked out for each passage, if not each note.…
Read more…

Strings – Finger Positions

Strings – Finger Positions

A working knowledge of finger positions for string instruments is essential to a working orchestrator. I could spend a whole week talking about finger positions. But the point I want to make today is that this is another big hole in the perception of many beginning orchestrators. It’s that section at the beginning of the…
Read more…

Strings – Bowing Styles and Markings

Strings – Bowing Styles and Markings

The orchestrator should learn to automatically envision what type of bowing is to be used in every orchestral passage, and mark those passages as needed. This is one of those steps on the road to mastery for a professional orchestrator – learning all the different types of bowing, and indicating the appropriate style in the…
Read more…

Video Tip of the Week: The Tenor Tuba from Mars!

Video Tip of the Week: The Tenor Tuba from Mars!

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at @OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice. Tips of the Day for this week: Monday, February 04: The Tuba’s Powers of Projection Tuesday, February 05: The…
Read more…

Tuba – Soloing

Tuba – Soloing

Use the tuba’s innate strengths of range and phrasing to craft an ideal orchestral solo. Solo tuba is a bit rare in the standard repertoire. The scarcity is due to several factors, like lack of opportunity for low-register soloing in the plan of a score; unfamiliarity with the tuba’s technique and solo tone; and the…
Read more…

Tuba – Tone

Tuba – Tone

The tuba’s unique tone should be considered carefully when scoring brass chorales. In older scores, tuba is often placed on the same staff as the bass trombone. But don’t be fooled – these two instruments are nothing like each other. The fundamental wave-form of trombone or trumpet is saw-tooth, whereas tuba is more of a…
Read more…

Tuba – Breathing

Tuba – Breathing

Orchestrators must be mindful of the amount of breath required to sustain a note or phrase on the tuba. Tuba can be a surprisingly agile, even delicate instrument, capable of great subtlety and range of expression. It’s in some ways the opposite of the bass trombone in the same lower registers. Some composers have used…
Read more…

Tuba – Blending

Tuba – Blending

Despite the hugeness of the tuba, it still has the ability to blend with great subtlety, if properly scored. This relates somewhat to the role of the tuba in most scoring. While it’s a powerful bottom end in a brass chorale, and an overwhelming color in a low brass unison, the average role of the…
Read more…