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Want To Write Big Orchestral Music, Where To Go After 4-Part Writing?


ansthenia
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Hello everyone

 

So I've spent a lot of time studying harmony, practicing and applying all that I've learned using 4-part writing. What do you suggest I study next? When I hear lots of orchesral music there is often less than 4 melodies happeneing at one time, yet the arrangement sounds way thicker than a piece for 4 parts, is this mostly lots of doubling of the fundamental lines? I've read an online article about the background/accompaniment often being big chords with a slower/simpler rhythm than the melody, are these thick lines built downwards from the top note (so basically more complex doubling with mulitple intervals below the main accompaniment line) or are they built upwards from the bass line?

 

Thanks for your time

Edited by ansthenia
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The best answers you will find them on the scores themselves, start studying orchestral scores, and try to play them in piano, you won't play every single note on score but try find in piano the main idea of what the composer could have had before completing the orchestration, I recommend for you to start with Sibelius "Finlandia" and "En Saga", or Grieg "Peer Gynt Suites 1&2".

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Hi ansthenia,

I agree with SYS65: listen to orchestral music and read the scores at the same time. If you hear a sound you are interested in, stop and figure out how the composer made it.

You can find TONS of free PDF scores in the public domain at imslp.com.

I think Brahms' 4th symphony would be another one to check out.

And you're on the right track - big orchestral chords often contain lots and lots of doubling. When I write orchestral music I will often write a piano score version first (kind of like your 4-part harmony excercises). Make notes for yourself along the way for different instrumentation. Then score it for the full orchestra afterward. That's one way to go about it, and I know many composers who do this.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi man, a good thing is to check great orchestral peices, like Beethoven's 9th symphone, and maybe Dvojak's "Symphony of the new world"...

You will notice immense string power in those ones.   The trick there most of the time is octave doubling for a thicker sound, and also a lot of players play the same line, but with different instruments.  Another important thing is mixing the orchestral sound pallete, like putting high woodwinds with low strings, you will see what i mean when you try to combine them in your music software.

 

Have great success!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I recommend writing chamber music. Work your way up - the orchestra isn't the holy grail that it used to be. If you can write a musically successful chamber piece (say something from 4-9 players, mixed instrumentation), then you're able to manipulate different voices to create a sound that communicates what you want. To me, that's all writing for orchestra is - a different medium to communicate a certain idea, concept, or story. It's just, there are more sounds. So it's scarier :)

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Hi!  I also think that if you want to look at some of Mozart's later symphonies, your time will not be wasted. :)

 

Here are some links to Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor:

 

Orchestra version: http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/a/ac/IMSLP273436-PMLP01572-III._Zweiter_Fassung.pdf

Piano (2-hand) version: http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/5/50/IMSLP14035-Mozart_-_KV550_Symphony_No40__pno_arr_August_Horn_.pdf

 

It might be interesting to compare the original orchestral version and this arrangement for piano solo.  You may find that many of the orchestral textures are simply 3- or 4-part counterpoint, with added octave doublings.

 

Be well and keep us posted!

 

Ezra

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  • 1 month later...

Hello everyone

 

So I've spent a lot of time studying harmony, practicing and applying all that I've learned using 4-part writing. What do you suggest I study next?

 

Hi, would you mind sharing how you got to the "4-part writing" stage?  That would be helpful for me because I'm not there yet.

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If you mean SATB 4 part harmony, and if you understand how to build chords, and scales within a key.  Then you should be well off for understanding 4 part writing.  

I read Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony to really solidify my understanding, but now I just disregard it, after plenty of time following it. *shrugs*

 

You might be able to find a good cheap copy at your local Half-Price Books.  Otherwise, look online - there is plenty of information on this matter.  So, just jump on in.  Or, just ask here - open up your own thread. :)

:::

If you meant 4 part fugal counterpoint...then it would still be good to know scales and chords :P.  And decide if you want to sound like a specific period or not, and base your writing on the rules used in those times.   Or, you could just sound like yourself, and follow your own ear instead.   

 

Again, ask for specifics - so we know where you are exactly, and can help you a little more specifically.

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  • 7 years later...
I am amazed at the lack of information on Orchestral Voice-Leading.   I have searched everywhere for answers to this question but have never ever found any.  Students are rigorously taught all the rules of chorale writing, and then thrown off a cliff when it comes to the orchestra.  I read Adler and Piston cover to cover, and only found one Adler reference (in 640 pages) to voice leading, and it is for a  for a Hayden String Quartet which hardly needs explanation.  Piston maintains that orchestral writing (from Hayden to Brahms, and even Wagner) is generally governed by the same "common practice" guidelines, and that timbral considerations are subordinate to textural considerations (i.e., voice-leading).  But then he confuses us again by adding ...  textural complexities are due to doubling, tone weight, octave placement, and idiomatic instrument writing.
 
Also, If voice leading rules are to be generally observed, are the guidelines to be followed by an individual instrument, instrument choir, or the entire orchestra ???
 
Are there no teachers who have taken the time to codify some of the basic principles of Orchestral Voice-Leading, or if there even is such a thing, and even if just for triads ???   And if there are such guidelines, it should be possible to explain them without confusing the issue with other factors like timbre, doublings for color, strength, blend, etc.  If one can break any rule for any reason, there really are no guidelines ... it all comes down to individual color, strength  etc. preferences !!!   And I can easily live with that, but I'm not sure the "authorities" can.
 
Everybody (especially on the internet) has their favorite random examples (often duplicated) that do not follow voice leading guidelines, but no one ever says whether they are exceptions, or common examples of not needing to follow voice-leading guidelines.
 
Being told to review scores would take more years than learning Chorale Voice-Leading, and would certainly be hit-or-miss.  Further if this would solve the problem of setting guidelines for normal practice (by period if necessary), why has no one documented their findings.
 
Can anyone recommend any resources to better explain this subject ?
 
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated,
 
David Webster
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