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Topic: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

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  1. #1

    How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Greetings, everyone. I don't have any formal training in orchestration or arranging, and the more I listen to the work of my peers, the more I wish I could go back in time and get that training. I've heard it said that it isn't necessary to have formal training to succeed, and while I believe that, I also know the limits of my abilities and education, and recognize that if I want to improve I must continue to learn.

    Obviously there are as many different ways of learning as there are teachers, but time is a factor, given that I also have to 'work' as I learn. With that in mind, I have a few ideas:

    1)Practice practice practice
    2)Get scores, analyze/read them while listening to the works.
    3)Get some books on orchestration
    4)Take some lessons from someone with more experience

    I can't go back in time, so I'm looking for advice on the above methods or other methods I might be missing from any of you out there...

  2. #2

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Get on amazon and check out the Kent Kennan/Donald Grantham book (there's a workbook that's suppose to go with it too, but I don't see it on amazon at the moment), the sam adler series and the classic rimsky-korsakov book. Most orchestration classes are taught directly from these.

  3. #3

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Thanks for the reminder, Brian. I had forgotten about Kennan's books. Looks like I can get the text and workbook from Powells for about $100 or so.

    Any other thoughts or suggestions?

  4. #4

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    There is "The Study of Orchestration" by Samuel Adler, optionally with Audio CDs. But I'm not sure whether it is a workbook.

  5. #5

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Alexander Publishing has a "Writing for Strings" course which is excellent...It improved my string and orchestra writing pretty fast..



    www.bmusikaudio.com
    Brian Moody
    "A work of art that attempts to transcend the boundaries of it's medium will likely alienate those looking for the same old" Ethan Einhorn

  6. #6

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Brian - Thanks for that tip! This actually looks like it is an EXCELLENT reference and I might start here!

    http://www.alexanderpublishing.com/music/stringwriting/

    I've also found a good online resource for scores and will likely pick up a few of those for study, as well as the Kennan books.

    Thanks everyone!

  7. #7

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Quote Originally Posted by BMusik
    Alexander Publishing has a "Writing for Strings" course which is excellent...It improved my string and orchestra writing pretty fast..



    www.bmusikaudio.com
    Brian Moody
    Hi - can you elaborate on the merits of the book?

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Orchestrating is basically presenting a musical idea (although since the advent of the 20th century it became a thing unto itself and orchestral effects became the root idea: i.e. not representing a root musical idea.) Therefore, well constructed music on both the vertical (Harmony) and horizontal (Melody or linear) planes is what will orchestrate best. So basic four part writing is key. The reason Kennan uses a Bach chorale to demonstrate different ways of orchestration is because the writing is so solid it lends itself to countless ways of being presented - great book btw. I would study composition primarily and orchestration along side since you will be orchestrating what you write.

  9. #9

    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    Just make sure the voice leading is in order... when novices hit orchestration roadblocks, it's often the result of faulty voice leading rather than a bad arrangement. Bone up on four, three, two, and one part textures. Mastering voice leading is much more difficult than mastering orchestration, the sooner a person starts, the better!

    Good luck! I personally think orchestration is fun, a nice stress relief from the actual working out of parts.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve orchestration and arranging skills?

    See the one below.

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