GARRITAN INTERACTIVE
PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION
by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov



Chapter IV
COMPOSITION


Lesson Notes:
This lesson discusses the limits of orchestral range, transference of passages and phrases and chords of different tone quality.





Limits of orchestral range.

It is seldom that the entire orchestral conception is centered in the upper register of the orchestra (the 5th and 6th octaves), still more rarely is it focused wholly in the lowest range (octaves 1 and -1) where the proximity of harmonic intervals creates a bad effect. In the first case the flutes and piccolo should be used along with the upper notes of the violins, soli or divisi; in the second case the double bassoon and the low notes of the bassoons, bass clarinet, horns, trombones and tuba are brought into play. The first method gives brilliant color, the second combination is dark and gloomy. The contrary would be fundamentally impossible.

Professor Belkin Comments: The middle range of the orchestra corresponds more or less to the normal range of human hearing. Extremes are effective only for relatively short passages. Constant use of the very high and/or very low registers is tiring to the ear. However, used judiciously, as contrasts, or to fill out a climax, they add a great deal to the overall effect. It should be noted that the widest range often goes with the loudest dynamics.



Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:




No. 232. The Golden Cockerel, Section 220cf. also Section 218 & 219 - Low Register


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score


Other References (Low Register):

Pan Voyevoda Section 122, Section 137
Servilia Section 168, 8th bar. (cf.Ex.62)

No. 233. The Golden Cockerel, Section 113 & 117High Register


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score




No. 234. Sheherazade, 2nd Movement, pp. 59-62High Register

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

Other References (High Register):
Snegourotchka, before Section 25
Legend of Kitesh before 34
The upper and lower parts of a passage can seldom be widely separated without the intermediate octaves being filled in, for this is contrary to the first principles of proper distribution of chords. Nevertheless the unusual resonance thus produced serves for strange and grotesque effects. In the first of the following examples the piccolo figure doubled by the harp and the sparkling notes of the glockenspiel is set about four octaves apart from the bass, which is assigned to a single Double bass and Tuba. But in the 3rd octave, the augmented fourths and diminished fifths in the two flutes help to fill up the intermediate space and lessen the distance between the two extreme parts, thus forming some sort of link between them. The general effect is fanciful.

Professor Belkin Comments: This kind of gap only works in SOFT dynamics. The louder the music, the more it will sound like the orchestra is “straining” to do its job.


Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:




No. 235. Snegourotchka, Section 255


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No. 236. Snegourotchka, Section 315, 5thand 6th bars.


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score
Other References :
Snegourotchka, Section 274 (cf. Ex. 9)

Transference of passages and phrases.

A phrase or a figure is often transferred from one instrument to another. In order to connect the phrases on each instrument in the best possible way, the last note of each part is made to coincide with the first note of the following one. This method is used for passages the range of which is too wide to be performed on any one instrument, or when it is desired to divide a phrase into two different timbres.


Professor Belkin Comments: This kind of “dovetailing” makes for smooth transitions, NOT effects of dialogue. In really fast tempi, the instruments may overlap by more than one note.
Examples:
Snegourotchka Section 137 - The melody is transferred from the violins to the flute and clarinet (cf. Ex. 28).
Snegourotchka before Section 191 - Solo violin - Solo 'cello.
Pan Voyevoda Section 57 - Trombones - Trumpets; Horn - Ob. + Cl.
A similar, operation is used in scoring passages covering the entire orchestral scale, or a great portion of it. When one instru~ment is on the point of completing its allotted part, another instru~ment takes up the passage, starting on one or two notes common to both parts, and so on. This division must be carried out to ensure the balance of the whole passage.
Examples:
Snegourotchka Section 36, Section 38, Section 131 - Strings. The Tsar's Bride Section 190 - Wood-wind.
Sadko Section 72 - Strings (cf. Ex. 112).
Sadko Section 223 - Strings.
The Christmas Night, before Section 180 - Strings, wind and chorus (cf. Ex. 132).
Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:




No. 237. The Christmas Night, before Section 181 - string figure.

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

Other References :
Servilia Section 111 - Strings (cf. Ex. 88)
Servilia Section 29, 5th bar - Ob. - Fl; Cl. - Bass cl., Fag.
No. 238. The Golden Cockerel, before Section 9 - Wood-wind.

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score
Other References :
The Golden Cockerel, Section 5 - Fag. - Eng. horn (+ 'Cellos pizz.).
Chords of different tone quality used alternately.

1. The most usual practice is to employ chords on different groups of instruments alternately. In dealing with chords in different registers care should be taken that the progression of parts, though broken in passing from one group to another, remains as regular as if there were no leap from octave to octave; this applies specially to chromatic passages in order to avoid false relation.

Professor Belkin Comments: There are really 2 situations here: sometimes one wants EQUAL balance between the 2 groups – dialogue/antiphony. At other times one wants echo effects. In the first case the groups must be more or less equal in loudness and volume (=THICKNESS of timbre). In the second case, the echo group must be CLEARLY weaker, not just marked down in dynamics. As usual: ORCHESTRATE the dynamics.

Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No. 239. Ivan the Terrible, Act II, Section 29

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No. 240. The Tsar's Bride, Section 123

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score


No. 241. The Tsar's Bride, before Section 124

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score


No. 242. The Tsar's Bride, Section 178

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



No. 243. The Tsar's Bride, Section 179

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

*Note. The rules regulating progression of parts may sometimes be ignored, when extreme contrast of timbre between two adjacent chords is intended.
Other References :
Shehderazade, 8th bar from the beginning, (the chromatic progression at the 12th bar is undertaken by the same instruments, the 2nd cl. is therefore placed above the first in the opening) — cf. Ex. 109.
The Christmas Night, opening (cf. Ex. 106).

2. Another excellent method consists in transferring the same chord or its inversion from one orchestral group to another. This operation demands perfect balance in progression of parts as well as register. The first group strikes a chord of short value; the other group takes possession of it simultaneously in the same position and distribution, either in the same octave or in another. The dynamic gradations of tone need not necessarily be the same in both groups.

Professor Belkin Comments: Often this method is used when the louder and shorter (rhythmically) group provides an accent, which seems to set the quieter one going. Again, an example of ORCHESTRATING the accent.


Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No. 244. Snegourotchka, Section 140

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score
Other References :
Ivan the Terrible, commencement of the overture (cf. Ex. 85).