6 Orchestration Tips | Music Composition | Ben Newhouse
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6 Orchestration Tips | Music Composition | Ben Newhouse

October 12, 2019

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, everyone. Let’s talk about six
orchestration tips for composers. Tip number one, move material
around the orchestra. This is one of the greatest
strengths of an orchestra. It has many different instruments. Even an instrument like
the violin, we can use it as a violin solo– that’s one
player– or a violin section, which might be 12, 14, 15 players. This means we can move
the melody around. We can have the melody start
in oboe, then it goes to flute, then it goes to cello, then it goes
to violin and cello in octaves. What this does is it creates
variation in the tone color of the music, which
makes it more interesting and gives it form,
momentum, and direction. Tip number two, vary the
overall instrumentation. Again, this is one of the greatest
strengths of the orchestra. There may be 80 players in an orchestra. We can have them all
playing at once, which will be a very loud, large statement. By contrast, we could have
just one player playing. It could be a low-register flute solo. And then, we have a very soft dynamic. The point is that one of the
greatest strengths of the orchestra is its dynamic variability. It can be really loud. It can be really soft. And as composers and
orchestrators, we want to utilize that to add interest and
forward momentum into the music. Tip number three, study scores. There have been a lot of composers
over the last couple of centuries who have written some really,
really good music for orchestra. We can learn a lot by looking at their
scores and listening to the recordings. The great composers– Brahms,
Tchaikovsky, and so on– most of their scores are
public domain at this point, so you can go online and
simply download the PDFs. Get some recordings and listen to them
while you’re looking at the scores. Studying scores is a great way to learn
a lot about writing for orchestra. Tip number four, create
multiple orchestrations of a single musical passage. So let’s say you have a phrase. You’ve got melody, and you’ve
got harmonic accompaniment. There is more than one way to
orchestrate that successfully. So a great exercise is to
create multiple orchestrations of a single musical idea or a phrase. One possibility is to try to create
one version, which is small, intimate, and soft, probably
small instrumentation, then create another version that
is as big as you can make it. Large instrumentation, full orchestra. And then, go ahead and
create a third version that’s in between, a sort of medium
instrumentation and medium dynamic. Creating multiple orchestrations
of a single musical idea is a great way to learn a
lot about orchestration. Tip number five, go to
an orchestra concert. We can learn a lot by sitting
in the same room as the ensemble and watching them play, listening
to how they produce sound. As one example, we can get a
sense for the relative projection of each instrument. How loud is a trumpet in comparison
to a clarinet, and so on. It’s harder to get a sense for
that when sitting in the studio and working with the software. If we are in the same room
and space as the ensemble, it’s much clearer what the
relative balance of the instruments and the sections are. Tip number six, ask musicians
about their instruments. Most musicians get really excited
to talk about their instruments. If you want to learn something
about the violin, find a violinist and ask them how it works. How does it produce sound? How do they play a harmonic? How do they play pizzicato? How do they play with the bow? We can learn a lot about orchestration
by simply asking musicians about the instruments. Thank you for watching these six
orchestration tips for composers. I hope they’re helpful in your pursuit
of writing great orchestral music.

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  1. Great teacher. Best online teacher. I learned a great deal from him. Best of luck in you future. Mr Ben.

  2. Great tips on approaches for studying orchestration., asking an instrumentalist about their instrument can be a very informative way of learning from an expert. A creative way to gain practical experience is to orchestrate the same musical passage 3 different ways, – – with a small ensemble arrange, a full orchestral version and an arrangement for a mid sized band. This is an excellent way to compare instrumentation techniques and sounds.

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