Strings: Slurring/Rearticulating Glissandos

Strings: Slurring/Rearticulating Glissandos

When to add a slur over a glissando mark – and when not to. (Tip no. 91 from 100 MORE Orchestration Tips, to be released in 2020.) One of the most common bugaboos of the developing orchestrator is the unintentional ambiguity of their string glissando scoring. I see this all the time: a composer has scored a…
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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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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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Composers on Camera: The Music Lovers

Composers on Camera: The Music Lovers

By early 1970, director Ken Russell had everything going for him. His third commercial feature film, “Women In Love,” was nominated for 6 Oscars, including a nod to him as Best Director, and scored Glenda Jackson her first Oscar for Best Actress. Meanwhile, “Song of Summer,” his biopic of the last years of composer Frederick…
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Composers on Camera: Testimony

Composers on Camera: Testimony

It’s all about perspective. The true telling of a life story is always from the outside looking in, even for an autobiography. The person telling his life story is the prime source for memories of what was once a different human being, seeing things through a telescope smudged with age and out-of-focus through distance. In…
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Composers on Camera: Song of Summer

Composers on Camera: Song of Summer

Recently I reviewed Ken Russell’s Elgar and The Debussy Film, which represent his first directorial efforts for BBC arts programming slots Monitor and Omnibus. Russell’s interests weren’t exclusive to composer biography. He followed up these early films with noteworthy retellings of the lives of artists in other disciplines, such as modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan…
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Composers on Camera: Mozart’s Sister

Composers on Camera: Mozart’s Sister

This film is like a very very expensive home movie: directed by actor-turned director René Féret, and inhabited by his many children, including his daughter Marie in the title role. The focus is not on the prodigy of Wolfgang Mozart, whose music and personality appears as a mere side issue to the thrust of the…
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Lili Boulanger in Her Own Right

Lili Boulanger in Her Own Right

Author’s note: this article is based on a Composer of the Week programme I scripted and presented for New Zealand National Radio’s Concert-FM. Embedded are links to various works of Lili Boulanger posted on YouTube for the reader’s listening and enjoyment. Saturday, July the fifth, 1913. In the great meeting hall of the Institut de…
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25 Little Signs That You May Have Become a Professional Musician

25 Little Signs That You May Have Become a Professional Musician

For most musicians, the road to a viable career is gradual, not instantaneous. You get there by baby steps, by continued presence in your scene, and by the accumulation of experience and perspective. Eventually you realize that you’re earning most or all of your money because of your music. That essentially makes you a professional…
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