This will be an ongoing project for me, as I am reawakening in myself the fine art of orchestration.

As a starting point, I will lay down the following fundamental axioms:

  1. In the orchestra there is no such thing as ugly quality of tone
  2. Orchestral writing should be easy to play; a composer's work stands the best chance when the parts are well written.
  3. A work should be written for the size of the orchestra that is to perform it, not for some imaginary body, as many composers insist on doing.

As a further discussion, the success of one's orchestration may be broken down into three classes:

  • When the orchestra sounds well when reading from sight; magnificent after only a few rehearsals
  • when effects cannot be brought off except with the greatest care and attention on the part of the conductor and players
  • when the orchestra never sounds good and never will

The best way to learn orchestration, as a composer, is of course to obtain scores and read them, copy them down and learn from them; these scores of course would be those of the great masters of composition.

The titanic figure of Beethoven is set aside here for later study. While he advanced the art of orchestration in leonine ways, his technique when viewed in detail often times is sacrificed in favor of expression. While this is by no means unacceptable, the student should know the difference before taking Beethoven's method as accepted music theory.

Or`ches*tra"tion (?), n. Mus.

The arrangement of music for an orchestra; orchestral treatment of a composition; -- called also instrumentation.


© Webster 1913.

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