Copyright Justin Henry Rubin © 2005
Simply put, orchestration is the timbral articulation of musical ideas, and is as important to conveying to a listener the expressive intent of the composer as an inspired melody, a finely crafted harmonic progression, or a vital rhythmic impulse. Orchestration, despite the connotation of the word, is applicable to any given instrument, voice, or group, whether it be an arrangement for a symphonic ensemble, string quartet, solo piano, choir, or even electronic sounds. The composer's obligation transcends mere assignment of the parts to instruments that have the compass to convey the music: one must bring transparency to the textures and illuminate the dramatic qualities, as well as sufficiently support the acoustical needs of the ensemble and resourcefully utilize the idiomatic instrumental possibilities that lie within. As such, there is no single manner that can provide the composer with a solution to all of these requirements within every work. Effective orchestration depends as much on the musical style at hand as it does personal taste and an ear for experimentation.
The brief examples that we intend to orchestrate below will explore some of the fundamental stylistic approaches that composers have cultivated from the Common Practice onward.
A. Type I Orchestration
B. Type II Orchestration
C. Type III Orchestration
AUDIO and MIDI files can be listened to on this page or downloaded separately here.
A. Type I Orchestration
1. Type I orchestration is a hierarchical treatment of the music within an ensemble: each layer of activity is, in effect, portrayed by an instrument or instrumental group with a significant degree of regularity throughout a particular texture. When a new texture arrives in the course of the piece, a different hierarchy can be established, similarly to the compositional concept within a sonata that calls for contrasting thematic types. Let us begin by writing a short score with a clear delineation between the function of the four component voices: 1. the primary melodic voice, 2. a secondary melodic voice that both supports the upper line while bringing an added dimension to the harmonic lower parts, 3. an accompanimental voice, and 4. the bass.
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