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THE TECHNIQUE OF ORCHESTRATION PDF

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The Technique Of Orchestration Pdf

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The purpose of the present work is therefore first to indicate the range of some essential parts of the mechanism of the instruments, then to proceed to the study, hitherto much neglected, of the nature of the timbre, the peculiar character and expressive potential of each of them, and finally to that of the best methods known of combining them in an appropriate manner. But to try to go beyond this would be to trespass on the territory of inspiration, where only genius is capable of making discoveries, because genius alone is able to range over it.

Table of contents Stringed instruments The violin […] The tremolo, played on one or two strings by massed violins produces several excellent effects; it expresses anxiety, agitation, or terror when played piano, mezzo forte or fortissimo on one or two of the G, D, or A strings and when pitched no higher than the middle B flat.

Technique of Orchestration 6th Edition by Grantham Donald

It has a stormy and violent character when played fortissimo on the middle range of the A and E strings. But it becomes ethereal and seraphic when used in several parts and is played pianissimo on the higher notes of the E string.

One may mention here that the usual practice in the orchestra is to divide the violins into two groups, first and second, but there is no reason why they should not each be subdivided further into two or three parts, depending on what the composer is trying to achieve.

The effect produced by such sustained chords is very remarkable, if the subject of the piece calls for it and it integrates well with the rest of the orchestral writing. I used them for the first time in three parts, in the scherzo of a symphony [ Romeo and Juliet , Queen Mab scherzo, bar and following], above a fourth, non-harmonic, violin part which consists of a continuous trill on the lower note.

The extreme delicacy of the harmonics is enhanced in this passage by the use of mutes; with the sound thus reduced the notes come from the highest regions of the musical scale, which could hardly be reached by the use of normal violin sounds.

Mutes are normally used in slow pieces, but they are no less effective for quick and light figuration when the subject of the music calls for it, or for accompaniments in an urgent rhythm. The resulting sounds produce accompaniments which singers appreciate, as they do not cover their voices.

They can also be used to excellent effect in symphonic music, even in vigorous passages, whether played by all the string sections together, or by only one or two parts. Here is a delightful example of the use of pizzicato in the second violins, violas and basses, while the first violins play arco. In this passage the contrasting sounds blend in truly wonderful fashion with the melodic sighs of the clarinet and enhance their expressiveness Example : Beethoven, 4th symphony, 2nd movement, bars [ For accompaniments pizzicato figures played piano are always graceful in effect; they relax the listener and when used with discretion give variety to the orchestral texture.

It is likely that in future far more original and arresting effects will be produced with pizzicato than is the case nowadays.

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Since violinists do not regard pizzicato as an integral part of the art of violin playing they have hardly studied it. Up till now they have only used the thumb and the index finger for plucking, and the result is that they are unable to play passages or arpeggios involving more than semiquavers in common time and at a very moderate tempo. But if they were to put their bow aside and used the thumb and three fingers, with the right hand supported by the little finger resting on the body of the violin, as is done when playing the guitar, they would soon be able to play with ease and at speed passages such as the following, which at the moment are impossible.

The double or triple repetition of the upper notes in the last two examples is made very easy by using in succession the index finger and the third finger on the same string.

Tied grace notes are also feasible in pizzicato playing. Example : 5th Symphony, 3rd movement, bars The effect then becomes incomparably more powerful and beautiful. In such a case when the violins are playing in unison the composer may want to increase their power even further, and has them doubled by the violas playing an octave below them. But this doubling in the lower part is too weak and out of proportion to the upper part, and the result is a superfluous buzzing sound, which tends to obscure rather than enhance the vibration of the higher notes on the violins.

If the viola part cannot be written in a distinctive way it is better to use it to add volume to the sound of the cellos by having both parts written in unison and not an octave apart as far as the lower range of the instrument permits.

This is what Beethoven has done in the following passage Example : Symphony no. They possess the greatest expressive power and an unquestionable variety of timbres. The violins in particular can express a vast range of nuances that seem at first sight incompatible. A violin section has power, lightness and grace, it can express sombre or joyful feelings, reverie and passion.

It is just a matter of knowing how to let them speak. There is incidentally no need, as there is for wind instruments, to calculate the duration of a held note, or to provide them with pauses from time to time. The composer can be sure that they will not run out of breath. Violins are faithful, intelligent, active and tireless servants.

Slow and gentle melodies, which too often are given to wind instruments, are never better expressed than by a mass of violins. Nothing can compare with the penetrating gentleness of the E string of some twenty violins in the hands of experienced players. An imperceptible movement of the arm, an unsuspected emotion on the part of the player, might produce no noticeable effect when played by a single violin. But when multiplied by many instruments playing in unison, it results in magnificent nuances and irresistible surges of emotion that penetrate to the depth of the heart.

The viola is as agile as the violin; its lower strings have a peculiarly penetrating quality; its higher notes are distinctive and have a sad and passionate intensity; in general its tone has a quality of deep sadness which distinguishes it from all other stringed instruments. And yet for a long time it has been left idle, or used mostly for the lowly and pointless function of doubling the bass part an octave higher. There are several reasons for the unjust bondage of this noble instrument.

When they were unable to think straightaway of a few notes to fill in the chords they quickly fell back on the inevitable indication col basso, and did so in such a careless way that the result was sometimes an octave doubling of the bass line which was incompatible either with the harmony, or with the melody, or with both at once. Then it was not possible at the time to write for violas distinctive parts which required from the players a normal degree of proficiency. Viola players were always recruited from among rejected violin players.

When a musician was not capable of performing adequately a violin part, he turned to the viola. As a result viola players were incapable of playing either the violin or the viola. I must admit that in our time this prejudice against the viola part has not been completely eliminated, and that even in the best orchestras there are still players who have not mastered the art of viola playing any better than that of the violin.

But the drawbacks of tolerating this state of affairs are becoming increasingly obvious, and gradually the viola, like other instruments, will cease to be entrusted to any but competent hands. Its tone quality is so distinctive that it is not necessary in an orchestra to have exactly the same number of violas as of second violins.

The expressive qualities of its tone stand out so clearly that in those very rare cases when composers of the past have given it a prominent role the instrument has never failed to live up to expectation. Nowadays violas are often divided into first and second.

It should be said that the majority of violas used in contemporary French orchestras do not have the right dimensions; they have neither the size nor consequently the tonal power of real violas, and are more or less violins fitted with viola strings.

Musical directors should ban completely the use of these hybrid instruments, whose weak sound drains one of the most interesting parts of the orchestra of much of its colour and energy, especially in the lower notes.

When the cellos are playing a melody, it can sometimes be very effective to double them in unison with violas. The tone of the cellos then acquires a very rounded and pure quality without ceasing to predominate. Example : Symphony no. Nothing has such voluptuous sadness as a mass of cellos playing in unison on the A string, and nothing is better suited to expressing tender and languorous melodies.

The cello excels also in melodies of a religious character; the composer must then select the string on which the passage should be played. The two lower strings, the C and G strings, have a smooth and deep sound which is admirably suited in such cases, but their low register means that they can only be given a bass line that is more or less melodic, while the true singing parts must be reserved for the higher strings.

In the overture to Oberon Weber with rare felicity makes the cellos sing in their upper register, while two clarinets in A playing in unison sound their lower notes underneath. The effect is novel and arresting. This has serious disadvantages. Double-bass players who are lazy or who really cannot cope with such difficult parts immediately give up and concentrate on simplifying the passage.

This buzzing chaos, full of strange noises and hideous grunts, is completed or compounded by the other players, who are either more dedicated or more confident of their ability, and who labour in a fruitless attempt to perform the passage entirely as written. Composers must therefore be very careful to ask from the double-basses only what is possible and where there is no doubt that the passage can be correctly played. This means that the old system of double-bass players who simplify their parts, a system widely adopted in the old instrumental school and exposed to the dangers we have indicated, is nowadays completely rejected.

Provided the composer has not written anything that is unsuitable for the instrument, the player must perform the music as written, neither adding nor deleting anything. Such is the case with the passage from the storm of the Pastoral Symphony, which conveys so well the suggestion of a violent wind charged with rain and of the dull rumbling of a squall.

It should be noted that in this example and in many other passages Beethoven has given to the basses low notes which they cannot play, and this suggests that the orchestra for which he wrote included double basses which could reach down to C an octave below the low C of the cellos, which are no longer found today. Example : Pastoral Symphony, 4th movement, bars [ The notes, chords and arpeggios that they project across the orchestra and the chorus have exceptional splendour.

There is nothing that is more appropriate for the idea of poetic festivals or religious celebrations than the sounds of a large number of harps when deployed in an imaginative way. When used in isolation or in groups of two, three, or four, it is strikingly the timbre of horns, trombones, and brass instruments in general that marries best with them.

The lower strings except for those at the lowest end of the range, which are loose and dull in tone have a veiled, mysterious, and beautiful quality, but have hardly ever been used for anything but bass accompaniments in the left hand. This is a mistake. Admittedly harp players are not anxious to play whole pieces in these lower octaves; they are rather far from their bodies, force them to lean forward and stretch their arms, and thus to maintain a rather uncomfortable posture for some length of time.

But this was probably of little consequence as far as composers were concerned. The true reason is that it had not occurred to them to make use of this special timbre.

But the player must never attack them with force, as they then produce a dry and hard sound, rather like the sound made when breaking a glass, and this is unpleasant and irritating. Harp harmonics, especially with several harps in unison, are even more magical.

Virtuoso players often use them in cadenzas and in their fantasias, variations and concertos. The sounds of the second octave can be very suitable for pieces of a joyful character, and the whole dynamic range can be used.

The upper notes played fortissimo are excellent for violent and shattering effects, as for example in a storm or in a piece of a ferocious or infernal character.

Example : bars The sound of the two piccolos comes out an octave above and therefore produces sequences of elevenths, the harshness of which is extremely appropriate in the context. No one before had suspected the peculiar affinity between two so very different instruments when used in this way. The effect has a stabbing, lacerating quality, like a dagger blow.

It is very characteristic, even when only those two instruments are used, but the impact can be increased by a sharp stroke on the timpani together with a brief chord on the remaining instruments. These and other examples I might mention seem to me altogether admirable. Beethoven , Gluck , Weber and Spontini have thus used the piccolo in a manner which is at once imaginative, original and sound.

But when I hear this instrument used to double three octaves above the melody of a baritone, to utter its shrill cry in the midst of religious harmonies, to add power and incisiveness to the upper part of the orchestra, from the beginning to the end of the act in an opera, and all just for the sake of noise, I cannot help finding this style of instrumental writing flat, stupid, and in general worthy only of the melodic style to which it is applied. The piccolo can be effective in quiet passages, and it is a misconception to believe that it can only play very loud.

The timbre of the middle and upper ranges does not have a strongly defined expressive character. It can be used for melodies and accents of different kinds, though it cannot match the artless gaiety of the oboe or the noble tenderness of the clarinet.

It appears therefore that the flute is an instrument largely devoid of expression, and can be introduced in any context to play anything, because of its facility in executing groups of fast notes and in sustaining high sounds that are useful in the orchestra to supplement high harmonies. In general this is true. But a careful study will reveal that it possesses an expressiveness of its own, and is well suited to rendering some feelings which no other instrument can match.

Should one wish, for example, to give to a sad melody a note of grief that was at the same time humble and resigned, the weak sounds of the middle range of the flute, especially in the keys of C minor and D minor, will certainly provide the appropriate tone colour. Gluck is the only master who seems to me to have understood how to make excellent use of these pale tones.

The oboe would have sounded too childlike and its voice would not have seemed pure enough. The clarinet would perhaps have been more suitable, but some of its sounds would have been too forceful, and none of the softest notes could have been scaled down to the weak, faded and veiled sound of the F natural in the middle range and of the first B flat above the stave.

These give to the flute all its sad character in the key of D minor where they occur frequently. And lastly neither the violin, nor the viola, nor the cello, whether used solo or as a section, were suitable to express this sublime lament of a suffering shade overcome with despair; the instrument required was precisely that chosen by the composer.

At first it is a barely perceptible voice that seems afraid of being heard. Then it sings a gentle lament, and rises to express reproach, deep grief, and the cry of a heart torn by incurable wounds.

It then sinks back gradually to the lament and murmured grief of a resigned soul… What a poet! As I have already said, these low notes blend well with the lower register of the cor anglais and of the clarinets; they provide the soft nuance in a dark colouring.

Example […] Modern composers generally write their flute parts too uniformly high; they always seem worried that they will not stand out above the rest of the orchestra. The result is that they dominate instead of blending with the whole, and the instrumental writing becomes shrill and harsh instead of being sonorous and harmonious.

Harold in Italy , 3rd movement, bars His preference is to give wind melodies to two or more instruments. The need for runs of this kind is extremely rare, and we confess we have not yet come across it. What virtuoso players attempt in this style of playing, in their fantasias and variations, is hardly likely to demonstrate the opposite.

The oboe is principally a melodic instrument; it has a rustic character, full of tenderness, I would say even of shyness. Nevertheless it is always written in tutti passages without any regard for its tonal character, because it is then submerged in the ensemble and the distinctive quality of its timbre can no longer be identified. Let us say immediately that the same is true of the majority of wind instruments.

The only exception that should be made is for those instruments that are excessively powerful or have a timbre that stands out because of its individuality. Unless one wishes to trample common sense and all artistic principles it is quite impossible to use such instruments merely to provide the harmony.

This applies to trombones, ophicleides, double-bassoons, and in many cases to trumpets and cornets. The sounds of the oboe are suitable for expressing simplicity, artless grace, gentle happiness, or the grief of a weak soul. It renders these admirably in cantabile passages. It can also convey a degree of agitation, but one must be careful not to intensify this to cries of passion, to vehement outbursts of anger, threats or heroism: its thin, bitter-sweet tones then become feeble and altogether grotesque.

Some great masters, Mozart among them, have not avoided this pitfall. One may find in their scores passages with a passionate intent and martial tone that are oddly at variance with the sound of the oboes that play them. The result is not only that the effect misfires, but that there is a jarring discrepancy between the stage and the orchestra, and between the melody and its instrumentation.

An Analysis of Maurice Ravel's Technique of Orchestration

The most direct, beautiful and noble march theme loses its nobility, directness and beauty if heard on the oboes. It may preserve some of its character if given to the flutes, and will hardly lose anything if played by the clarinets. Should it be absolutely necessary to use the oboes in a piece of this kind to give more body to the harmony and increase the power of the wind section, then at least the parts should be written in such a way that their timbre, unsuited to this style of music, should be completely covered by the other instruments and should blend with the ensemble so as to be unobtrusive.

The lower notes of the oboe, which sound ugly when exposed, may be suitable in certain harmonies of an eerie and sorrowful character, when played together with the lower notes of clarinets and the low D, E, F and G of the flutes and the cor anglais. Gluck and Beethoven have shown a wonderful understanding of the uses of this valuable instrument, and it is to the oboe that they both owe the deep feelings aroused by some of the most beautiful passages in their music.

Examples from Gluck […] Beethoven has made greater use of the joyful tones of the oboe. Examples of this are the solo in the scherzo of the Pastoral symphony [ example : bars ], that in the scherzo of the Choral symphony, or in the first movement of the symphony in B flat, etc.

But he has been equally successful in giving the instrument passages of a sad or desolate character. This can be seen in the solo in the minor in the recapitulation of the 1st movement of the symphony in A [ example : bars ], in the andante from the episode in the last movement of the Eroica symphony [ example : bars ], and especially in the aria from Fidelio where Florestan, dying of hunger, imagines in his delirious agony that he is surrounded by his family in tears, and mingles his cries of anguish with the broken lamentation of the oboe.

Its tone is less penetrating, more veiled and deeper than that of the oboe, and is therefore not suitable for expressing the gaiety of rustic tunes. It is not capable either of voicing passionate laments, and tones of acute grief are more or less beyond its reach. This update was made in and re-presents the same material in a mobile-friendly format.

The research takes the form of structured and unstructured interviews, instrumental and orchestral recordings, historical discussion and musical analysis. If you find the site useful, please do email a testimonial or consider making a donation towards its maintenance via the Paypal button below.

This is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8, and 16, unique visits per month from all over the world. Thanks to the donations so far received, I have been able to create this responsive re-design.

The Technique of Orchestration

But the movies and sound clips recorded in do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: andrewhugill [at] gmail. All support helps very much and is gratefully received! Pitches A4 is assumed to be Hz: the 'A' to which British orchestras tune.

The note numbers change incrementally every octave at C, so the octave above middle C is called C5. The octave below middle C is C3. C5, and so on. The lower range descends to C0, then uses minus numbers C-1, C-2, etc.

Extended Techniques This User's Manual always prefers to show the orchestra as it is rather than as it could be, as is most clearly the case when considering 'extended techniques'. There are several books which set out to catalogue the available extended techniques on each instrument, and these are referenced as appropriate.

However, a viewing of the video clips on the various instrument pages will reveal an enormous variation in player abilities and attitudes to these techniques, ranging from enthusiastic engagement to downright hostility.

This manual is perhaps unusual in that it simply reflects these limitations as they are encountered, rather than trying to be comprehensive about the available techniques regardless of the player's opinions.

Bibliography Belkin, A. Blatter, A. New York: Schirmer. Casella, A.

Paris: Ricordi. Corder, F. London: Curwen. Peinkofer, K and Tannigel, F. London: Schott.

Techniques of Orchestration (Alexandra, Liana)

Piston, W. London: Gollancz.Enharmonic notes with harp tuning: Special Pizzicato Effects Mixed tones best reserved for later sections: It left a deep imprint on a whole generation of American and English orchestrators. Bekker is strictly old-school, but his information is excellent and his view on the modern direction of orchestration quite generous and informed. Parts can be played by same Bass Clarinet player: Cutting out the rhythmic layer, we will be replacing it with a texturesque layer, and so we will still maintain a 3 layer composite.

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