Tuba – Powers of Projection

Tuba – Powers of Projection

Never underestimate the tuba’s enormous powers of projection. Tuba is one of those instruments that gets overlooked quite often by beginning orchestrators, or added to a score as an afterthought – a little bit of extra weight here or there for the heavy brass. Actually, it’s quite a fascinating instrument, with great potential for interest…
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Video Tip of the Week: Tchaikovsky’s Interlocking Phrasing

Video Tip of the Week: Tchaikovsky’s Interlocking Phrasing

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, January 28: Shaping Orchestral Phrasing Tuesday, January 29: Defining Themes by…
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Orchestration – Technique and Execution

Orchestration – Technique and Execution

The parameters of technique and execution must be considered in scoring a phrase to an instrument or section. Here’s one last tip about orchestral phrasing before tomorrow’s video about Tchaikovsky. The easiest way to say this is: “one size does not fit all.” But this goes past character, timbre, inflection, and other factors I’ve written…
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Orchestration – Inflection

Orchestration – Inflection

Inflection is often key to matching a thematic phrase intuitively to an orchestral instrument or section. Once again, we have a parallel between language and music. In speech, inflection is defined by a certain shaping of vocal tone to reinforce the meaning of a sentence. The most obvious of these is a rising voice for…
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Orchestration – Deriving Texture from Instrument-Driven Development

Orchestration – Deriving Texture from Instrument-Driven Development

Thematic development which is driven by the character of the instruments should determine the nature of the accompanying orchestral texture. For the past three days, I’ve examined the role of instrumental color in determining the shape of phrasing and the development of themes, empowered by obeying the basic rules of linguistic communication. Today, I’m going…
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Orchestration – Instrumental Color Dictating Thematic Development

Orchestration – Instrumental Color Dictating Thematic Development

The qualities of instrumental color should dictate the development of thematic material in a orchestral score. This, I feel, is one of the hardest things for a beginning orchestrator to grasp. Very often, I’m seeing beginning scores where thematic development is very pianistic, and of course that’s natural as most composers nowadays are pianists or…
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Orchestration – Communicating a Theme

Orchestration – Communicating a Theme

A great orchestral theme should use certain precepts of communication for maximum emotional impact. Yesterday I spoke about the importance of shaping a phrase orchestrally to fit the appropriate instrument. Today’s topic takes this further – not merely shaping a phrase or musical sentence, but an entire theme that’s more like a paragraph – composed…
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Orchestration – Shaping a Phrase

Orchestration – Shaping a Phrase

The ability to shape a phrase orchestrally should be one of the primary concerns of a developing orchestrator, not just thinking vertically. Something I’ve observed in many early orchestrational efforts is the concept that orchestration is mostly about combinations of sound and color. Developing orchestrators tend to think about the big picture a lot, and…
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Video Tip of the Week: Reading Natural Brass

Video Tip of the Week: Reading Natural Brass

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. Score-read the following works, transposing horn and trumpet parts: Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Movt. II Haydn Symphony No. 100,…
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Horns – No Key Signatures, Please!

Horns – No Key Signatures, Please!

Despite what several modern orchestration texts may claim, horn and trumpet players prefer not to have key signatures. I picked up the Alfredo Casella orchestration text in an English translation a while back. Some of the presentation of principles is truly original, and I can recommend it as a supplement to a more thorough book…
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