Techniques of Orchestration

Dr. Justin Henry Rubin © 2005

B. Type II Orchestration

At the dawn of the last century, composers began to explore unique instrumentations for their ensemble works. However, many persisted in applying type I orchestration (or a development thereof) to their new styles of music, even though this approach had sprung from 18th and 19th century concepts and methods of organization. Some composers recognized that in order to support a new musical syntax, it was necessary to cultivate a method of orchestration that would provide an appropriate timbral realization. The result of this was the evolution of type II orchestration.

This is essentially an analytical approach that is particularly suited to works that rely on elaborate motivic manipulation or involved polyphonic treatment. As such, one of its primary goals is utilitarian: to break down the surface complexity through exacting timbral choices assigned to (usually short) portions of the materials. One analogy is to imagine adding specific colors to a complex web of originally monochromatic lines in order to illuminate the intricate images buried within the dense design, which in turn better reveal the overall form.

Often associated with this type of orchestration is a kaleidoscopic use of the ensemble, rather than creating a hierarchy wherein each instrument serves only a specific function within the texture. Doublings are normally absent, in order to concentrate the listener's ear on clear, pure timbres. Anton Webern (1883-1945), who originally implemented this approach in his angular dodecaphonic music, envisioned its potential to help elucidate complex material regardless of style. His arrangement of the six-part fugue from J.S.Bach's Musical Offering is convincing testimony to the broad applications type II orchestration presents to the composer.

Often the term klangfarbenmelodie (German: sound-color-melody) has been wrongfully associated with the kind of pointillistic approach espoused here. Arnold Schönberg, who coined the term, originally used it to describe a work in which timbral manipulations would be substituted for motivic and harmonic development. The term is better used in conjunction with type III orchestration.

1. Appropriate Musical Choices for Type II. We have chosen to compose a piece for piano that integrates brief motivic material into a polyphonic texture. The development of the piece will be analyzed regarding the manner in which the motives interact. This will enable us to demonstrate how this particular type of orchestration can be advantageous to the composer.

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2. Applying Type II Orchestration. We have chosen an ensemble of flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon - horn, trumpet, trombone - marimba - violin, viola, violoncello, and string bass. The inclusion of the bass clarinet is to provide an alternative wind in the lower register to the bassoon. This is in order to support the clear articulation of one of the prevailing motifs that features a quickly repeated sixteenth note. The marimba was preferred over the vibraphone for similar reasons, being that its sharp, resonant attack, brief sustain, and sizable range, allow it the flexibility required within the sparse overall texture.

The articulations and phrasing were afforded particular consideration in this arrangement. Note that the cello is instructed to perform two ways: arco and pizzicato. The pizzicato orchestration is employed to bring greater prominence to the less distinctive motive C, while its quality of attack can be echoed by the marimba.

Little alteration is introduced into the original material itself, save for a few closing additions. Most of the attention to the arrangement was given towards maintaining a clear presentation of the contrapuntal materials through ever-changing, though coherent, ensemble combinations.

As with the previous pieces, our complete score remains untransposed. Because of its length and page size, it is made available here only as a pdf download.

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