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Topic: I'm getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

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  1. #1

    I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    I just discovered these Northernsounds forums earlier this week while searching for reviews of Garritan Personal Orchestra. I’m amazed by the great amount information posted here and how knowledgeable and musical many of the users are (I’ve noticed a definite leaning towards orchestral composition). I’ve followed links from here to product demos, contest winning pieces and several composers personal websites where I’ve heard wonderful sounding orchestrations created with sampled instruments. I’ve been blown away by the many of compositions created by people on this forum which (to me at least) sound totally believable, as if played by a live orchestra.

    I plan to get GPO within the next month and I would love to get some suggestions (or a link to some suggestions) on how I can start learning the art of writing orchestral music. I’ve spent many years doing electronica, dance music, pop and even some jazz but other than playing clarinet in the youth orchestra 20 years ago and a few unsatisfactory attempts using Sonic Synth I don’t know much about orchestral writing. Would buying some scores and programming them with GPO be a good starting place? Which ones? I know it will probably take many years to get good at this, but I’d like to start learning.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  2. #2

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    Hi Brian, coming from a non-orchestral background myself, I found Samuel Adlers; The Study of Orchestration, really good.

    It can be bought on Amazon. Try and also buy the accompanying CD\'s as they contain videos displaying the various playing techniques. Before you know it, you\'ll know your Col Legno\'s from your Spiccatto\'s [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    The Study of Orchestration by Samuel Adlers is really good , but don´t forget Rimsky-Korsakov and Piston... These is the 3 most useful books of orquestration... Also , haveing some scores to study is essential. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  4. #4

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    Also, listen, listen, listen. I\'ve been tuning my car radio to the local classical station full time lately. It\'s fun to play guess-the-composer and guess-the-time-period. Since classical radio isn\'t compressed like pop, I had assumed that it wasn\'t good for car audio. I just wasn\'t turning it up loud enough :-)

    If you listen closely you can hear the tricks that composers from different periods use. Things like Mozart\'s use of the repeated note, how many threads are weaved simultaneously, how the layers are added to build to a great crescendo, how the instruments trade focus with one another. Bear in mind that modern film music generally uses different techniques than, say, Bach, so listen closely to film music as well.

    Listening is especially important if you come from a modern/pop background. It will help open up the possibilities. The last thing you want to do is write a catalogue of pieces with repetitive bass, rhythm and lead parts that happen to user an orchestra.

    The books are great too. I\'ve got Forsythe\'s Orchestration book. It\'s a bit dated and spends too much time on the technical description of instruments and their historical development, but it\'s still useful. I also have a pocket orchestration handbook. It\'s great to keep next to the computer for a quick reference of ranges and articulations. It doesn\'t replace the bigger books, but it\'s handy.

    Best of luck. Enjoy the trip.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    And I guess it\'s up to me to state the obvious...find a great music school close by, and see if you can get into a theory/comp program. Even if it\'s not to pursue a degree, there\'s great value in immersing yourself and having some project/homework/deadline pressure to keep your nose to the grindstone. Not to mention, you\'ll immediately steal all the skirt right out from under the band geeks.

  6. #6
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    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    I second the recommendation on S. Adler. Not cheap but very useful!

    Best
    Holger

  7. #7

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    I see a theme with Bruce.


    I second his advice about school. It\'s also good to get your composition into a public forum. In a class, with a whole body of students all asking teachers different things, you get more feedback, often times agreeing with questions you might not have thought to ask. You end up with a more fundamental understanding of the topics.

    I\'ve studied Korsikov\'s book. It\'s very good at explaining how to balance an orchestra so that your parts are represented appropriately, but it doesn\'t really touch on the \"art\" of orchestrating. Why did this composer use bells for this part? Why do the parts in this piece sound so unified while my attempt at it sounds so crowded? As far as I kow, this is a matter of experimenting with what works and what doesn\'t. But if someone knew of a book that touched on these issues, that\'s the book for me, and probably a lot of people that have ventured into orchestral writing from more commercial roots.

  8. #8

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    Looper - Go to as many live symphony concerts as you can. Listen to the colors that bring the compositions to life. This is a VERY interactive experience because you can immediately see which instruments are used to create the almost infinite textures of a real orchestra.

    I learn a new \"sound\" at every live performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (I wonder if I could write-off the cost of a season ticket! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    Originally posted by Tarkio Road:
    I learn a new \"sound\" at every live performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (I wonder if I could write-off the cost of a season ticket! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">As a matter of fact, yes you can. Every movie ticket and rental as well. Research, baby.

  10. #10

    Re: I\'m getting GPO, how do I learn orchestral writing?

    Bruce, and all...

    I purchased the text only version of that book some time ago. Has anyone any ideas where i can buy the cd\'s as i dont really want to purchase the book again.

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