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Incorporating rock instruments into the orchestra?

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I don't mean sickly strings pasted on the background of a rock song but a serious attempt to combine rock sonorities into a classical work. Has anyone here attempted to do this or can point me to any works where it happens? I can vaguely remember Bernstein's Mass having a part for electric guitar (not heard it in years though), but I'm struggling to think of any others.

Why is it such a rarity? Are rock instruments totally antithetical to the orchestra, or is it an example of classical music being stuck in the past? For a long time, the violin was considered a peasant instrument and serious composers preferred the more aristocratic viol. Much the same could be said about the clarinet and saxophone.

What are your thoughts?

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Yngwie Malmsteen? Not saying it's a great example.

Also, try people like Glenn Branca. I think he has a 100 electric guitar "symphony." But he's more arty avant garde than classical.

No instrument is antithetical to the modern symphony, but electrified instruments aren't really the bag of classical in general... something about one musician being able to overpower the other 50....

The other thing is that the bass guitar is essentially a less cumbersome double bass, and the drumset is a quickset for the percussion section.

Now, there's a whole repertoire of classical guitar, but that's of course acoustic. Also, composers such as Berlioz composed on guitar...

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Are rock instruments totally antithetical to the orchestra

No I think not, it's just that Instruments that uses amplifiers are kind of refused by the other orchestra players, but that feeling can be eliminated.

You may use them all.

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Check these out:

Yngwie Malmsteen

Concerto Suite for Electronic Guitar and Orchestra in E flat minor Op.1

<>

"One Winged Angel" (the version with Black Mages)

From Final Fantasy 7, composed by Nobuo Uematsu

Search for Final Fantasy: Advant Children OST

and this one kicks donkey:

"He who brings the night" composed by Thomas Bergersen

Nemesis II

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Thanks for your interesting and informative replies.

I did hear a bit of a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by Yngwie Malmsteen on youtube. I'm not sure how representative this is of his work, but I'm unimpressed. The guitar seemed poorly integrated with the orchestra and most of the writing seemed baroque cliche.

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Check out a band called Nightwish. They are basically symphonic rock-metal band, their last two albums are packed with orchestration featuring London Symphony Session Orchestra.

Albums are called Once and Dark Passion Play.

That band is by far the closest you'll get about merging traditional orchestration and modern instruments. Also the bands composer is excellent, I'd recommend you to check out their discography.

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Guest Bitterduck

I'm pretty steve vai did this too. Can't remember though.

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Thanks for your interesting and informative replies.

I did hear a bit of a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by Yngwie Malmsteen on youtube. I'm not sure how representative this is of his work, but I'm unimpressed. The guitar seemed poorly integrated with the orchestra and most of the writing seemed baroque cliche.

Don't listen to the performance on Youtube that with the Japanese Orchestra.

The actual CD with Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is way better.

"One Winged Angel" is by far the best I've heard regarding to rock band and orchestra integration. It's a composition. Not a song that accompanied by orchestra. You need to listen to the version either from Advent Children OST or the live performance from "More Friends: music from Final Fantasy". I prefer the live one.

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Meh. The Black Mages versin of One-Winged Angel is pretty unspectacular in my opinion. I will agree that it is one of the more sucessful attempts I've heard at combing an orchestra with rock band (I still find it to not be a very great example however). Compositionally, it's pretty lame though... as is the oriignal track.

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I have written piece for piano and electric guitar.. and am considering a concerto for electric guitar. I refuse to make it sound like pop or rock music in any way but timbre.

(its the piece in my sig.. if you care)

I played guitar in a Bernstein piece a few years ago with my school concert band.. I can't remember the name of it though (tragically..) (it utilized 7/8 time, and the guitar part was usually doubled by soprano sax.. I would love to find out what this piece was if anyone knows)

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Toto did this more or less in the soundtrack for Dune, not that that's the most inspiring example.

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Louis Andriessen has used electric guitars and bass guitars into his pieces. De Staat for example is scored for 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, 4 oboes, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone, 2 harps, 2 electric guitars, 4 violas, bass guitar, 2 pianos. They blend really well in that piece.

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Here's a question: as an orchestrator, how do you handle the vast variety of signal chains changing the tone of the guitar significantly?

Pickup placement, fret size and shape, pickup type, onboard and offboard electronics, preamp, amp, cab, and PA, plus any pedals (even non-distorting ones like compression) all significantly change the tone of an electric guitar. What about pick style? I used metal picks when I played with a pick (and had money... scrounging for picks off a dirty stage floor was what made me switch back to fingers) -- hard felt, plastics of all shapes, sizes, and thicknesses all have an effect on the sound of the guitar...

Would you leave it up to the musician, or would you specify? If you specify, how specific? Make, model, and year? Style?

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[re: guitar gear/instrument/setup] Would you leave it up to the musician, or would you specify? If you specify, how specific? Make, model, and year? Style?

Leave it to the performer.

I might, were I so inclined, to specify perhaps a type of guitar (hollowbody, strat, 12-string) but would never go so far as to require a "1981 Ibanez AS-200 with Monster patch-cables through a Vox AC30 and Boss DD-3 and OC-3 pedals" ... or anything.

I would specify a type of effect - delay, reverb, distortion, sampler - but one can't really expect to demand a specific brand or model.

...

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Deep Purple (Jon Lord) have a Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra, if I'm not mistaken.

The sessions were conducted by Sir Malcolm Arnold.

Have only heard snippets of it, where a long Ritchie Blackmore solo ruins everything, but that's guitarists for you. :)

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The problem is that most of the good attempts go back about 40 years (Ie Deep Purple, Lloyd Webber) to that experimental prog rock period of the 60s/70s. There was some attempt to sensitively integrate rock and classical instruments then.

The more recent stuff is just bombastic goth rock, with the orchestra added just to make it sound heavier.

Although that Metallica track is an exception.

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...

The more recent stuff is just bombastic goth rock, with the orchestra added just to make it sound heavier.

Although that Metallica track is an exception.

And even with the Metallica, all you're getting is wimpy string pads underneath them playing their tune. There's no innovation, and no real attempt to successfully fuse together the two worlds....

...

...no one liked my Terje or Mantler suggestions :(

try this:

Mike Patton with Metropole Orchestra

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