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Topic: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

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  1. #1

    A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    I\'ve always dreamed of the day when a game developer (or anyone for that matter) tells me they want a completely orchestral score and that they are willing to put up the money to record a real orchestra.

    Only problem is, no composer that I know (myself included) has ever had the privilege of working with a real orchestra. And my musical theory is scant at best

    So i guess I\'m curious, how would you go about turning your midi sketches into a full blown piece of music, ready to be performed by a real orchestra?

    I imagine you would need an orchestrator and a copyist but I\'m sure there also a whole heap of other things Im missing out.

    I would love to hear everyone\'s thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Assuming you\'ll be doing a sample-based mockup, you would essentially be the orchestrator. But you\'d need to work with someone who understands the mechanics of \"real\" orchestration to make sure what you\'ve programmed is playable by live musicians. You\'d need to coordinate with a copyist with MIDI knowledge to properly consolidate your sequences into printable scores (this could be the same person). And, of course, you\'ll need a conductor. There\'s no shortage of qualified help. But it\'s a good idea to form your associations and technical plans before composing commences.

  3. #3

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    You should read the article that Gary Garritan wrote for the Octover 2000 issue of Electronic Musician Magazine --

    \" The Real Thing\"

    It covers some of the points of dialog between composer and conductor, and the input that others have while readying a score for production.

    \"THE REAL THING\"

    \"Hiring a real symphony orchestra for your recording project is more practical than you think. Thanks to the internet, you can work with an excellent Eastern European orchestra for a very reasonable price.\"

    \"Many musicians dream of having their music performed by and recorded with a symphony orchestra. The vibrant cascading strings, majestic horns, and rising crescendos are enough to give any composer goose bumps. But these aural fantasies typically remain unfulfilled; unless, of course, you have a major record label behind you. Having a large orchestra at your disposal has always seemed beyond reach for most of us - until recently.

    While working on my latest album, I needed a lush sound....Hiring a symphony orchestra seemed like the perfect solution, so I contacted about a dozen orchestras in North America. As you might expect, I was hit with quite a sticker shock. The cost of hiring a first-rate orchestra for a day ranged from about $45,000 to more than $80,000. It was not exactly in my budget; in fact, it wasn\'t even close!

    After the collapse of the Iron Curtain, many symphony orchestras were no longer funded by their governments and were, therefore, offering their services on the open market. These orchestras needed hard currency and could be hired at a fraction of the cost of a comparable Western orchestra.... 50 players would cost less than $4,500, and that price might involve up to nine hours of rehearsal time leading up to the final recording. (In some cases, extra charges may be expected for engineering, hall rental, and the conductor.)\"
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">You can also find the reference to the link at http://www.garritan.com/reviews.html

  4. #4

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Thanks Guys - Sean, a conductor, there\'s a minor oversight on my part. [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

    Houston - thanks, I actually did read that article of Gary\'s a couple of years ago, probably time to read it again though.

  5. #5

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Scott,

    My answer to your question is a bit of a different take on what has been presented so far......and it really will not answer your question if you get that gig tomorrow...BUT, I don\'t know of any better reason to spend the time you have now and start learning and studying the things you are not comfortable with in preparing your music for live musicians. All it will do is make you a better composer.

    You mentioned theory was not a strong area for you. Go buy some theory books. Maybe take/audit some classes at a school/university. Learn how to write for different instruments. Ex... I think any composer who ever wants to write for a woodwind or brass instrument should either learn (roughly) how to play one or spend a lot of time with wind players. There are so many \"keyboard composers\" out there who don\'t know the concept that wind players have to BREATHE and that long passages of notes without breaks for breath and to allow the blood flow back into the lips...just doesn\'t work.

    Someone mentioned communicating with a conductor. Maybe it is just my USC Film scoring \"old fashioned\" way of doing things....but I believe every composer who records with a live group should know how to conduct their own music with that group. As a composer.....I believe it completes the process of creating the music by leading and interpreting the musical performance as a conductor. And there really is not better feeling than stading in front of a 100 piece orchestra after they have just played something you wrote. Maybe use some spare time now to take some conducting lessions. Who knows....you may get into the condcuting crowd and make connections where it will be easier to get your own stuff recorded by live musicians in the future.

    Buy Dover scores and study them AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Learn what the masters of yesteryear did to get their sound. Midi orchestration and orchestrating for live instruments are completely different (as you have mentioned). Some people can do one or the other.....but it is rare to find one that can do both very well. (James Newton Howard comes to mind as a rare individual who can do both to near perfection). By studying classical scores (spend a lot of time in the romantic era)....you will learn a lot of techniques on how to notate your music for live musicians.

    As far as creating scores......for myself...it is almost easier and faster to start over in Finale or Sibelius and notate the score from a blank page rather than try to adopt some midi files into a readable part for musicians. I know that LA orchestrator Scott Smalley even charges more money to orchesatrate scores from midi files than he does to write them out by hand based on hand written sketches due to the increased amount of work needed to make midi scores readable to hollywood musicians.

    Just remember that all of these things...while a lot of work.....will ultimately make you even better at what you do.....then when you get the gig for a live orchestra....you will either;

    1) do more jobs yourself and pocket more of the music budget instead of having to hire a team of people to do them

    OR

    2) if you do have to hire a team of people to help (especially due to time constraints) you will be better equipped to communicate what you want from your composition to your assistants cause you will be able to speak the \"real world\" language a little better. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  6. #6

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Originally posted by Brian W. Ralston:
    Someone mentioned communicating with a conductor. Maybe it is just my USC Film scoring \"old fashioned\" way of doing things....but I believe every composer who records with a live group should know how to conduct their own music with that group. As a composer.....I believe it completes the process of creating the music by leading and interpreting the musical performance as a conductor.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hey Brian - I\'m the one who mentioned working with a conductor (an implying the same for orchestrator, contractor, etc), and couldn\'t agree more with your contrary assertion from a personal standpoint. I consider someone else doing my orchestration or synth sound design to be blasphemy. As you well know, the realities of timelines in Hollywood may make it untenable to produce a great deal of material by yourself on a big project, so finding people that are \"like minded\" to work with is not trivial business.

    My comments were in the context of two things, 1) that in the article Gary talked about the process of working with experienced musicians that rendered his scores remotely, and offered insight in the preperation and production process, and 2) how that experience can be leveraged in order to get someone from Scott\'s position \"over the hump\" while he takes the longer path of learning how to do that part of the heavy lifting.

    I find score study to be incredibly enlightening. I just went through some Stravinsky and still trying to find time to do a MIDI mock-up of Respighi\'s \"Pines of Rome\". That process in and of itself can help you \"break down\" some barriers in terms of understanding what happens visually on the page and how that translates to what you hear. I\'ve just started working with Cubase\'s score editor to dial in some figures that I cannot play at tempo, just to hear how they sound - and it has led me in totally new directions that guide me away from what \"falls under my fingers\" at the keyboard.

    I guess the most important thing in time - you need time to develop and explore. If you\'re always in a mad dash to \"produce\" something a lot of nuance can get left behind.

    Anyway, I got an email from one of my professors at school who mentioned a friend of his that hired a European orchestra to play live cues for his game score, and the session cost less than the big library he used for the mock-up. I find that ironic and telling.

  7. #7

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    If God Wants my First \"Suite\" (Tales From Middle Earth) will be played in \"Live\" next November..in Band-Syinfonic transcription..,
    I´ve been trying that 1 year an a half...,with diferent guys..helping me.. in diferent aspects..
    My conclusions are:
    For people as me without any Theoric training should be a key \"listen\".. listen as many music as you can, \"By real stuff\" of course, you should know the \"texitura\" of each instrument, Don´t try to make jumping Extrem notes.
    Write for a Real Orquestra., by samplers a sigle Oboe-line should work, but in the Real world when you think are you listening an Oboe., thre are 2 Oboes 1 Corno 2 clarinets..etc...very low but they are there and they NEED to be there.
    Loking your Transcriptor it Was the Hardest work. but i found him,
    then Give him as much material as you can, Full Audio trak, section audio traks, single audio traks of each line.

    Finaly Learn Music and you could do it All alone.
    In my opinion i prefear use my time Writing.. and writing...cose well ... i have my reasons.

    Hope helps.

    D.M

  8. #8

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Thanks guys, a lot of valuable information in there.

    I am trying to better my musical knowledge, I bought the book \"The Study of Orchestration\" by Alder and have been trying to find a teacher close enough to teach me the Oboe. (of all things Ernstinen! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )

    I have also been enquiring about about Orchestration classes but there isnt too much on offer in Sydney unfortunately. I will perservere and certainly buy some scores to study.

    Thanks again everyone,

    Scott.

  9. #9

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    Be sure and check out Peter\'s educational stuff at http://www.alexanderpublishing.com/index.shtml
    He has some good courses and lots of good study scores. He is a good teacher.
    Dave

  10. #10

    Re: A poll of my own: A real orchestra, how would you do it?

    I\'ll add a couple of tidbits here.

    What you learn from studying scores can and should translate into how you approach your midi mockups. Proper chord voicings, voice leading and all the theory stuff will make your midi stuff sound even better. Try to play stuff into the sequencer the way someone might really play it. Use controllers, (especially volume) to achieve dynamic phrasing. With regard to instrumentalist\'s need to breathe, try doing some \"air french horn\" (or whatever instrument) along with your track. See if it feels natural (or even possible), if not, re-think it.

    Don\'t put too many notes (chord tones) in the strings! As an orchestrator, one of the most difficult things to do is: get a midi file from a composer that has 18 notes for the strings to play in a forte tutti passage, and then have to distill down those 18 notes to 5 (give or take) for the live guys. If you divide the strings too much they\'ll disappear, particularly if the brass is playing. There is strength in numbers. Strings have a herd mentality, they play best when they\'re all playing the same notes (in each section, that is).

    If you consider all this stuff as you\'re sequencing your midi \"sketch\" will translate to orchestra much more easily. Your midi stuff will be clearer and sound better, too.

    Someone mentioned the \"Rite of Spring\" as a study piece. Of course, this is one of the greatest pieces of music and greatest example of creative orchestration ever. But remember: an orchestra will spend a week rehearsing something like that with musicians that have probably played it 15 times before. Chances are, when you do get your shot at recording your music with an orchestra you\'ll have far less time than you need. Simplicity rules. Write the simplest stuff you can to achieve the dramatic result you need.

    Happy writing!

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