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The sounds made by the orchestra are the ultimate external manifestation of musical ideas germi-. One skilled in the technique of orchestration may practice a somewhat lesser art of transcribing for orchestra music originally written for another medium.

Failing this, the result is unlikely to amount to more than a display of skill and craft, often of a superficial and artificial nature. Orchestration, in the sense here employed, refers to the process of writing music for the orchestra, using principles of instrumental combination essentially those observed operating in the scores of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

It is a common technique, employed in present-day symphonic music as well as in that of the classical and romantic periods. The technical equipment of both composer and orchestrator must include a thorough knowledge of the individual instruments, their capabilities and characteristics, and a mental conception of the sound of each.

Then the effects and resources of instrumental combination must be learned, involving such matters as balance of tone, mixed tone colors, clarity in texture, and the like. Finally, the orchestra is to be sensed as itself an individual instrument, flexibly employed to present the music, in form and content, with fidelity and effectiveness.

The imperfection and vagueness of our musical notation makes it impossible to indicate with accuracy dynamic and rhythmic quantities as well as pitch, to say nothing of shades of tone color, warmth and intensity. One consequence of this is the preponderance of the role played by the performers and the conductor in the translation of written notes into sound. It is a well-known fact that no two performances of a work sound alike, and we find pleasure and satisfaction in this versatility of music as written.

There are also mechanical and physical influences that cause variants in the sound of an orchestral score. No two orchestras sound alike. They may differ in the number of strings, in the quality and make of the instruments, and quite naturally in the capabilities of the players. A wide difference exists in the acoustic properties of the various auditoriums in which the individual orchestras habitually play, and the same orchestra will sound different in a different place.

Because of this variety in the sounds produced from the same given notes, and also because the student of orchestration seldom has an opportunity to hear those notes played at all, the student works under severe handicaps in striving to cultivate a capacity for the mental hearing of orchestral scores.

In the event that his opportunities are limited to hearing phonograph records and radio broadcasts, he must be cautioned that these resources often have serious and misleading deficiencies. It is possible to doubt that the usual commercial recording of a symphonic work can stand the test of comparison with the printed score. The phonograph record is valuable as a means of conveying the over-all effect of a composition, but it is an insecure medium through which to store up instrumental sounds in the memory, or to ascertain the sound effect of a printed page of orchestration.

The complex vicissitudes suffered by a musical tone from the time it leaves the orchestra until it is perceived by the ear of the listener all have their effect. When recordings are broadcast, the efficiency of the initial pick up" is improved, but often the records are worn, and frequently the pitch is clearly not the same as the pitch of the perf.

This means that a varranon 10 speed has been introduced at some stage of the recording or reproducing process. This, in turn, means a loss of fidelity not only in pitch, but also in tempo and in the tone color of each instrument.

Through a realization of these existing conditions, a philosophy of musical experience can be formed, so that conclusions are drawn not from one or two examples of actual sound, but from the cumulative evidence of many experiences, and even then held subject to subsequent revision.

The three essential aspects of the study of orchestration are treated in the three divisions of this book. In Part One, the instruments and their playing techniques are studied in detail. In Part Two, an approach to the analysis of orchestration is suggested, and in Part Three, typical problems in orchestration are given wtih some examples of their solution.

The student should be stimulated to make acquaintance with scores, and to develop self-reliance and initiative in seeking a deep knowledge of the instruments and how they are combined. Such a presentation will be found, it is hoped, in this introduction to the art of orchestration.

Such an attitude is partly justifiable because of the superiority of the strings in so many important respects. Strings arc tireless and can play virtually any kind of music. They have a greater dynamic range than wind instruments and far more expressive capacity.

The tone color of the string group is fairly homogeneous from top to bottom, variations in the different registers being much more subtle than in the winds. At the same time, stringed instruments are the most versatile in producing different kinds of sound. As string tone is rich in overtones all manner of close and open spacing is practical. One does not tire of hearing string tone as soon as one tires of wind tone; in fact, there exists a sizable literature of compositions written for string orchestra without wind instruments.

The string section of a typical symphony orchestra usually consists of sixteen first violins, fourteen second violins, twelve violas, ten violoncellos, and eight double-basses. Variations in these proportions may be found, reflecting the predilections of individual conductors, or perhaps determined by some such circumstance as the size of the concert stage.


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Shelves: music A classic book on Orchestration that goes well with the other Piston books. I found this quite useful when working with MIDI orchestration. Jan 08, William Lauricella rated it it was amazing As someone just getting into orchestration, I believe this book was a good and valuable source while working on my first project of a piano concerto. This was originally written for my youth orchestra percussion ensemble, and it was now my challenge to take that material into an orchestra format. For not knowing a lot of knowledge beforehand, this was a great resource in assigning percussion parts to different instruments in the orchestra. I rate this book 5 stars for being a valuable resource As someone just getting into orchestration, I believe this book was a good and valuable source while working on my first project of a piano concerto.



No practical aspect of instrumentation for the orchestra is neglected, and comprehensive treatment is given to each significant component. The author approaches orchestration from the premise that the principles can best be presented by analysis of music as it has been written. The essentials of instrument combination discussed here are those which can be observed operating in the scores of great composers from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven down to our own day. Orchestration is notable for the clarity and logic of its organization. From a consideration of the individual instruments and their technical problems the author skillfully develops his analysis of orchestration, covering his analysis of orchestration, covering instrumentation of primary and secondary melodies, part-writing, chords, and contrapuntal techniques. Finally, he discusses typical problems in orchestration together with some examples of their solutions. Orchestration is profusely illustrated with hundreds of musical examples and with drawings of the various musical instruments that make up the modern orchestra.

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