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Topic: Examples of poor orchestration

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  1. #1

    Examples of poor orchestration

    I would also be interested in seeing and hearing some of the pitfalls in the application of this material....common faux paus, misconceptions, etc.

    Just a thought.
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  2. #2

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    You might want to take a look at Samuel Adler's Principles of Orchestration (3rd edition with CDs). He investigates various orchestration decisions and has them performed to explain why some orchestrations work better than others. For example, poor voicing and various instrument combinations are demonstrated and compared in Schubert's 8th Symphony.

    Karim

  3. #3

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    It's one of the oddities of orchestration that it is almost as hard to orchestrate really horribly as really ll, ***provide you write stuff that is easily playable and use some basic common sense.***

    That is because the orchestra has evolved over time into a fairly euphonious, blended ensemble.

    Poor orchestration generally only becomes easily audible when you can a/b it with good versions. Or, over the course of a longer stretch of listening, when you start noticing how grey it sounds, how nothing stands out, how your ear gets fatigued.

    However once you do start really hearing orchestral planes of tone, the way orchestration and form work together, the subtleness and the whole sound, you will never be the same. There is a fair bit of "ear training" involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by wes37
    I would also be interested in seeing and hearing some of the pitfalls in the application of this material....common faux paus, misconceptions, etc.

    Just a thought.
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  4. #4

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    Wanna check out my back catalogue??


    BB

  5. #5

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by wes37
    I would also be interested in seeing and hearing some of the pitfalls in the application of this material....common faux paus, misconceptions, etc.

    Just a thought.
    This is really a good question. See, the famous Czech Composer, Bohuslav Martinu was a typical example of wrong orchestration. But his style got so specific, that you will recognize his music in very few notes - and people love it. Also, another famous Czech Composer, Leos Janacek, was considered a poor orchestrator by his fellows. His compositions were considered unlistenable and conductors, they had to perform some of his works made several changes in his scores every performance. Now, 80+ years after his dead, his compositions are considered great sounding, and currently, there is a great phenomena of Janacek's operas in such Americans' Opera Houses like in Metropolitan, NY.

    Conclusion? In general, I would say, it depends on the genre and composing style. If you will repeat the same orchestration mistakes, it might become your style. Anyway, composers with very specific composing styles did never live to see their success. So, it depends on your priorities....

  6. #6

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    This is not quite right. It's only true of you think of orchestration as having "rules" based on style, e.g. "never double violins with oboes". Well, that *is* silly. But if you think of orchestration in terms of PRINCIPLES, bad orchestration can't make a style.

    Example. Principle: foreground must stand out over background. Well, if you try to accompany a delicate melody in the low flute with 4 legato horns, there is NO style in which it will work. The horns will ALWAYS stand out more. THIS is the kind of thing you should aim to learn in orchestration, the basic principles and the reasons things are done in certain ways.

    (Btw, it's the same in harmony, counterpoint, etc.. This issue of principles versus rules is what my online books and teaching in general are all about!)

    Quote Originally Posted by capellen
    This is really a good question. See, the famous Czech Composer, Bohuslav Martinu was a typical example of wrong orchestration. But his style got so specific, that you will recognize his music in very few notes - and people love it. Also, another famous Czech Composer, Leos Janacek, was considered a poor orchestrator by his fellows. His compositions were considered unlistenable and conductors, they had to perform some of his works made several changes in his scores every performance. Now, 80+ years after his dead, his compositions are considered great sounding, and currently, there is a great phenomena of Janacek's operas in such Americans' Opera Houses like in Metropolitan, NY.

    Conclusion? In general, I would say, it depends on the genre and composing style. If you will repeat the same orchestration mistakes, it might become your style. Anyway, composers with very specific composing styles did never live to see their success. So, it depends on your priorities....
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  7. #7

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    Just out of curiosity, how exactly would one accompany a low flute solo in an effective manner?

  8. #8
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    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    I would venture to guess that there have been countless examples of poor orchestration---even by great composers---that we will never hear because they were corrected and re-orchestrated before the pieces reached the final forms in which we know them. I remember learning in Music History that when Stravinsky had an essentially full-time orchestra at his disposal while working with Diaghalev, he used to run around the orchestra like a madman during rehearsals making changes to the parts.

  9. #9

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by savanttrigger
    Just out of curiosity, how exactly would one accompany a low flute solo in an effective manner?
    Besides the above suggestions, pizzicato strings, or harp alone.

  10. #10

    Re: Examples of poor orchestration

    In the Preface to RK, he says there are 3 kinds of orchestration:

    - that which sounds OK at first try
    - that which sounds OK after much rehearsal
    - that which never works

    If you want to attain the FIRST category - a VERY good goal for a beginner - write things which "just work". Getting 2 horns to play quietly enough to accompany a low solo flute, by writing seperate dynamics, is between category 2 and 3. Using divided strings, without too much movement, or harp, is category 1.

    This is an important distinction, especially for beginners. Do NOT depend on writing seperate dynamics to make your orchestrations work; choose instruments, registers and idioms, so that they will work "automatically".

    Quote Originally Posted by dissolva
    Well the principle to observe is: the supporting ensemble usually needs to be 2 dynamic levels below the flute part.

    2 ppp horns could be used to support a low register mf flute part.

    if you're supporting with strings, you need to leave out the basses, so ppp strings with no bass could be used to support a p low flute.
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

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