Music - Composition & Orchestration

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  Artistic Orchestration by Alan Belkin © Alan Belkin, 2001  2 This is the third volume in my series of online books on musical technique. The otherscover: Form , Counterpoint, and (forthcoming) Fugue, and Harmony. This series is dedicated to the memory of my teacher and friend Marvin Duchow,one of the rare true scholars, a musician of immense depth and sensitivity, and aman of unsurpassed kindness and generosity.  N.B. This material is © Alan Belkin, 2001. Legal proof of copyright exists. The material may be used free of charge provided that the author's name is included.email: alan.belkin@umontreal.ca Table of contents Introduction: Why This Book?Preliminary Considerations Remarks on InstrumentsWhat is Poor Orchestration? Basic Notions, Part 1 Orchestration and FormChanges of soundRate of Orchestral ChangeDegree of Continuity/ContrastInterpreting the PhrasingOrchestration and DynamicsRegisterColorSustained vs. Dry SoundFat vs. Thin sound; Unison DoublingBalance: Simultaneous and Successive  3 Basic Notions, Part 2 Musical Lines vs. Instrumental PartsPlanes of ToneContrapuntal OrchestrationThe Tutti Summary: What is good orchestration?Orchestral AccompanimentAppendix: Some Pedagogical Ideas Examples from a Character GlossaryOutline Sketches as a Teaching ToolLearning Orchestration from the RepertoireOrchestral Simulation Conclusion and Acknowledgements  4 Introduction: why this book? Several fine books on orchestration already exist: Rimsky-Korsakov’s aptly named Principles of Orchestration remains as valuable today as when it was published. Theexcellent texts by Piston ( Orchestration ) and Adler ( The Study of Orchestration )combine thorough information about instruments with useful advice about theircombination.Koechlin’s monumental work ( Traité de l'Orchestration ) is in a class apart: In its fourhuge volumes, the author generously shares a lifetime’s experience as a masterorchestrator and explores many subjects nowhere else to be found. Our work here ismuch indebted to Koechlin.The main subject the preceding books do not cover systematically is how orchestrationcan express and enhance musical form. This, combined with our focus (throughout thisseries) on explaining musical techniques in terms of how people hear, will lead us tosome useful principles.Rimsky-Korsakov tells us that to orchestrate is to create, and this is something whichcannot be taught . Experience proves him right. Once the basic information aboutinstruments is assimilated, it is difficult to teach the finer points of the art outside of actual composition. Transcription of piano or chamber music, often used as a teachingmethod, presents useful challenges, but these challenges are mainly problems of translation, not of composition. We will not deal with transcription here, as the subject iswell covered in other books (see, for example, Joseph Wagner, Orchestration ).What is orchestration? For our purposes, orchestration follows instrumentation, where thestudent will have learnt how instruments work, and what is reasonably playable by agood professional. The common conception of orchestration as simply assigning timbresto lines is very inadequate. Timbre is a potent aspect of musical character. Using iteffectively requires a much knowledge about texture - the ways in which musical strandscan be combined - and how changes of timbre affect our perception of musical form.There is in fact no area of music that is not dependant on timbre: It impinges even on themost elementary harmony exercise. The tension of an appogiatura will change drasticallydepending on whether it is for voices, strings, or piano. Our definition of orchestrationwill therefore be: Composing with timbres. Most of our discussion here will focus onhow orchestration can be used to enhance various musical situations.
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