A Practical Approach to Orchestration

Serendipity was at work yesterday. I was minding my own business when an email popped into my inbox entitled ‘A Practical Approach to Orchestration’. Needless to say, my curiosity piqued and I opened it. Within lay a link to a blog post.  This couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

As I opened the blog post, I quickly realised that what I was reading was not only EXACTLY what I needed to read right now, but also confirmed that it was exactly what I was DOING! Wicked! (and slightly ‘phew’!)

The piece was written by acclaimed composer Anze Rozman and he talks about using the MeHaRyTe method to achieve a rich and balanced sounding orchestral piece, essentially bringing 4 layers together:

1) Melody
2) Harmony
3) Rhythm
4) Texture

So to look at in more detail, we start with:
1) Melody
We learn when starting out with orchestration to make the melody voicing stand out from the rest of the instrumentation. We want to hear it at all times and it needs to be clear. Often, there will be a counter-melody which will add to the texture.

2) Harmony
A great melody line needs an equally fantastic harmony, too. A poor harmony can make the melody sound weak & wrong.

3) Rhythm
In order for any melody and harmony to sound like it has movement, we need to ensure there is enough rhythmic interest. Often to be found in the harmonic support, but the melody can also have an interesting rhythm which can drive forward the music.

4) Texture
Often in the background, the texture is the subtle but nonetheless superior supporting act to the rest of the musical aspects above. Everything blends together to form the texture; the melodic and harmonic lines, the rhythmic aspects. It all comes together to form a lush, rich colour of sound.

From here, the rest of the blog post gives examples of taking a solo piano piece and building it up to an orchestral piece, which is fascinating:

http://evenant.com/articles/a-practical-approach-to-orchestration

I really found this blog post very useful. In particular the advice around placing rhythm in the accompaniment lines, such as the second violins or violas. I need to remember to do this more in my strings sections

Reference:
Rozman, A. (2016). A Practical Approach to Orchestration. Available: http://evenant.com/articles/a-practical-approach-to-orchestration. Last accessed 25 July 2016

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