Jump to content
caters

Piano Solo Score to Orchestrate: Escape from the Minor Trap

Recommended Posts

I have finished writing down the solo piano version of the piece that I improvised and am wanting to orchestrate. I mentioned it in the first post in this thread, both the piece and the orchestration:

As I stated in that thread, it goes through 4 different emotions like this:

Lamenting(Beginning C minor arpeggio and quiet melody) -> Dramatic(Loud, Beethovenian outburst) -> Hopeful(Relative major followed by modulation to parallel major) -> Joyful(C major at last, the music breaks free from C minor)

It took me a bit more than a week to write down the piano score. Main reasons are distraction and just taking a break by composing another piece.

The PDF of the piece has a lot of orchestrational comments relating to motives and instrumentation. There is a section where I have a solo in the bass clef and it feels like every measure has a different downbeat. This is the section:

enter image description here

There are 2 different ways that I could express this downbeat change, consecutive time signatures and accent marks. This is what it would be if I changed the time signature consecutively:

Quote

Bar 70: 3/4 Bar 71: 4/4 Bar 73: 5/4 Bar 74: 4/4 Bar 75: 3/4 Bar 76: 2/4

And that is just to match the downbeat with beat 1 during the solo. Wow is that a lot of consecutive time signature switching. At least it is gradually adding and subtracting beats to the bar and this excerpt is from the second slow section but still, that's a lot of time signatures in quick succession. And the sixteenths won't beam right in the 5/4 in Musescore. I have run into that issue every time I write in 5/4, that the beaming does not look right. For eighth notes, that's not much of an issue, but it gets much worse with sixteenth note beaming

Whereas, if I were to use accent marks, this is where I would put the accents while keeping it in 4/4:

Quote

Bar 70 Beat 4, Bar 71 Beat 4, Bar 72 Beat 4, Bar 74 Beat 1

Much simpler, since there are no time signature switches. However, would this sound like a downbeat when the full orchestra gets involved?

Here is the score with the orchestrational comments and the MP3. What do you think of the piano score itself and my orchestrational comments?

PDF
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Esper said:

Thank you for sharing this. 

 

Your welcome. It is the first time I have ever completed a piano score version of an orchestral work. I tried doing the piano score method with my first attempt at a symphony but:

1) I got distracted easily by other composition ideas like String Quartets, Fugues, Solo works, Sonatas, etc.

2) I didn't know as much about orchestration and counterpoint then as I do know

3) I didn't really go into the motivic part of the planning, I only had a narrative to go on

And so I never got past the introductory canon of the first movement of that symphony. Maybe I will eventually finish it and my symphony numbers by composition date and finishing date will not match. Or maybe I won't finish it.

But I figured that writing a small 10 minute piece for orchestra from a piano score could prepare me for writing a 30-50 minute long symphony, just like how writing a symphony would prepare me for writing a concerto or an opera. Because a symphony is a lot to take on. I mean it is basically like a piano sonata, but taken to the max. Concertos and Operas are even more to take on because you have to consider Orchestra vs Soloist for concertos and Soprano vs Tenor vs Alto vs Bass and Voice vs Orchestra for operas.

If I can successfully orchestrate this 10 minute long piano piece, then combining that with my knowledge of how the sonata works, I should be able to write a symphony with few problems. And if I can write a symphony, then I think I can achieve one thing that I have always dreamed of doing ever since I started composing my own works, composing a piano concerto.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Because it's a long piece, and generally well written, I'll comment on the orchestration points written on it.

Bar 1: What about having a harp playing these arpeggios as well?  There are no accidentals in the bass clef through the whole of that passage, so no awkward pedal changes. 

Bar 6: There will be a completely different soundworld depending on if you use flute or bassoon - it's in the low register of a flute and the high register of a bassoon, so there will be a big difference in tessitura as well as tone.

Bar 30: I hope each the cello and bass will take one note and tremolo on it, rather than going between octaves

Bar 70: Trombones playing this melody too?

Bar 117: Don't have the flute and oboes playing in thirds for such a long passage. Divide each one and have Fl 1 and Ob 1 taking the top note, and Fl 2 and Ob 2 taking the bottom note.

Bar 187: I can hear a very triumphant Beethovenian orchestration here - lots of trumpet and Timp etc.

Bar 229: How are you planning on orchestrating this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Because it's a long piece, and generally well written, I'll comment on the orchestration points written on it.

Bar 1: What about having a harp playing these arpeggios as well?  There are no accidentals in the bass clef through the whole of that passage, so no awkward pedal changes.

I didn't think of that but harps are a great instrument for arpeggios. I will consider using the harp in this piece.

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 6: There will be a completely different soundworld depending on if you use flute or bassoon - it's in the low register of a flute and the high register of a bassoon, so there will be a big difference in tessitura as well as tone.

That does make sense. The bassoon has a reedy but mellow tone to it's notes when in the bass register. In the tenor register, the bassoon, I think projects more at the same dynamic, getting closer to the timbre of the brass. The low register of the flute on the other hand has a quiet and weak tone up to A4.

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 30: I hope each the cello and bass will take one note and tremolo on it, rather than going between octaves

Yes, the cellos will play the upper notes tremolo and the basses will play the lower notes tremolo, giving that octave sound without the difficulty of octave leaps.

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 70: Trombones playing this melody too?

I didn't think of that but yeah this bass clef melody would be good for the trombones, especially considering the forte dynamic. They have been in more of a harmonization role the entire time, so this would show their melodic capabilities.

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 117: Don't have the flute and oboes playing in thirds for such a long passage. Divide each one and have Fl 1 and Ob 1 taking the top note, and Fl 2 and Ob 2 taking the bottom note.

Thanks for the suggestion. I see Flutes and Oboes in thirds so commonly in orchestral writing, where the Flutes play the upper notes and the Oboes play the lower notes, that when I was thinking of which instruments to have playing in thirds before it moves to the 2 octave arpeggios in the treble clef, I was immediately thinking Flutes and Oboes

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 187: I can hear a very triumphant Beethovenian orchestration here - lots of trumpet and Timp etc.

Ah, the C major section where the music has escaped not just from the key of C minor but also from C minor's proximity. I bet you were thinking of the Beethoven's Fifth Finale when listening to this section and writing your reply to the post. I foreshadow this in the Eb major section where the bass turns into triplets by alternating between Eb major and E minor and then having a G major chord. But, because the whole piece has been intense in multiple different ways, I have a 1 measure rest for the entire orchestra before they jump in to the C major section. This should give the harpist enough time to change pedals to all naturals if I do decide to use the harp in this piece.

9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Bar 229: How are you planning on orchestrating this?

Oh, those across the keyboard arpeggios. I was thinking of maybe having the double basses sustain the root note of each harmony or perhaps a 3 part divisi if I want them to play actual chords(of course, if I go with this chord option, I would want the notes of the chord quite spread out, so as to not get muddy down there). As for the arpeggios themselves, I was thinking of using a combination of a strings cascade and a woodwind cascade, where it goes from the lowest to the highest member of each. So for the strings cascade that would be Cellos to Violas to Violins. Because this isn't a violin concerto, I don't want to make it hard on the 1st violinists by writing notes past the third octave, where the violinists are pretty much going to have to use harmonics to get those 4th octave pitches regardless of whether the harmonics are written into the score or not. So the 4th octave would be only woodwinds.

For the woodwind cascade, things would be similar, moving up from the Bassoons to Clarinets to Oboes to Flutes to Piccolo. Again, the 4th octave can be played on the flute, at least up to F#, but it would likely anger the flutists to see me write up to fourth octave E. So not only would the fourth octave be only woodwinds, but it would also be only the piccolo playing that high.

Now, during these cascades, I would have at least 2 if not more notes played in unison by 2 instruments so that when 1 instrument drops out, it sounds like it seamlessly moves from 1 instrument to the next. And I was thinking of having the 2 cascades not start simultaneously. So the cellos would start the strings cascade first and then some time later, the bassoons would start the woodwind cascade. If I decide to use the harp, I can have it play the arpeggios as well.

Also I realized I made a bit of a mistake with the dynamics at the end of the piece. I go from fortissimo to mezzo forte so that the slow arpeggios don't sound too loud. But at Bar 251, I meant to bring back not just the tempo but also the fortissimo dynamic and I didn't. Oh well, this can be corrected in the orchestral score. The Piano score doesn't have to be absolutely perfect in any circumstance but especially not when I am going to write it for orchestra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some good points you have risen here.

2 hours ago, caters said:

That does make sense. The bassoon has a reedy but mellow tone to it's notes when in the bass register. In the tenor register, the bassoon, I think projects more at the same dynamic, getting closer to the timbre of the brass. The low register of the flute on the other hand has a quiet and weak tone up to A4.

It does of course depend on the flautist. Even the particular instrument can affect how it project - headjoint cuts with more resistance project better in the lower register, and ones with less resistance tend to have clearer high notes. (Don't worry about that though - I was just showing how it can vary so much)

2 hours ago, caters said:

Thanks for the suggestion. I see Flutes and Oboes in thirds so commonly in orchestral writing, where the Flutes play the upper notes and the Oboes play the lower notes, that when I was thinking of which instruments to have playing in thirds before it moves to the 2 octave arpeggios in the treble clef, I was immediately thinking Flutes and Oboes

Flutes and Oboes a third apart are common. However, owing to factors such as the particular register that it is in, this will sound best if both are divided. Woodwind players are well versed in playing in unison with different instruments, and it can really utilise the different tones throughout each instrument.

2 hours ago, caters said:

Ah, the C major section where the music has escaped not just from the key of C minor but also from C minor's proximity. I bet you were thinking of the Beethoven's Fifth Finale when listening to this section and writing your reply to the post.

Indeed I was. I have seen you mention it in a couple of posts and I thought it might be nice for you to emulate the scoring a little bit. 

2 hours ago, caters said:

For the woodwind cascade, things would be similar, moving up from the Bassoons to Clarinets to Oboes to Flutes to Piccolo. Again, the 4th octave can be played on the flute, at least up to F#, but it would likely anger the flutists to see me write up to fourth octave E. So not only would the fourth octave be only woodwinds, but it would also be only the piccolo playing that high.

Now, during these cascades, I would have at least 2 if not more notes played in unison by 2 instruments so that when 1 instrument drops out, it sounds like it seamlessly moves from 1 instrument to the next. And I was thinking of having the 2 cascades not start simultaneously. So the cellos would start the strings cascade first and then some time later, the bassoons would start the woodwind cascade. If I decide to use the harp, I can have it play the arpeggios as well.

 

1. Yes, flautists will dislike a 4th Octave E. However, it's no worse than asking a piccolo player to play the top C - it's almost impossible to play.

2. Good idea, it's good to have these doubled. It makes it sound fuller as well.

Alternative suggestions:

You could simply have these as full tutti chords spanning a range similar to the arpeggio here.

Or, you could have the arpeggio being dropped down an octave at some points. This would take the high range off.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/15/2020 at 2:54 PM, aMusicComposer said:

Indeed I was. I have seen you mention it in a couple of posts and I thought it might be nice for you to emulate the scoring a little bit. 

I personally find it hard to emulate the scoring without it sounding like version 2.0 of a previously composed piece sometimes, especially as the ensemble gets larger. For some composers, this is easier than others. Mozart is quite easy for me to emulate in either solo or chamber ensemble while still being original. Beethoven though, past maybe a duet it gets hard, especially something as well known as the Beethoven's Fifth Finale. I mean, like I can write a piece in the style of Beethoven very well, but like emulating a specific piece or a specific movement and not just the composer in general, that is tricky to get the balance between emulating the piece and being original. Beethoven's Fifth is perhaps the hardest for me to emulate without me thinking:

Quote

Wait, are people going to say I completely borrowed this from Beethoven's Fifth? Are they going to say that the Beethoven's Fifth intensity doesn't fit well with my melody? How would Beethoven have harmonized this? etc.

The Scherzo movement is maybe the easiest for me to emulate while still being original(small, mysterious, quiet, sudden growth in ensemble and dynamic, etc.) and the First movement and the Finale are both hard for me to reach that balance between the Beethovenian power and the originality of the melody that I composed. So, when I do reference say the First movement, I only really evoke it through the motive and maybe dynamic, but even that motive, I don't have like the bass clef respond to it motivically, otherwise, I risk too much of getting comments saying that I am borrowing from the First movement when I'm not.

Speaking of the Finale of Beethoven's Fifth, I listened to a video with score several times, and I notice this happening in the brass:

  • Melodic -> It is pretty much only the horns and trombones that get this melodic role, I haven't seen a melody for trumpets go by even after looking at a video with score several times
  • Doubling of woodwinds -> This happens especially in the first theme with that ascending C major triad
  • Doubling of other brass -> This happens a lot between the horns and trumpets, especially at forte and fortissimo dynamics
  • Rhythm -> Keeping the Fate Motif in more or less its original form going throughout the piece(I see both the original form, the same form as the unison G, G, G, Eb of the first movement, and the form as it appears in the Scherzo, the same note repeated over and over in rhythm, in the horns and trumpets)
  • Harmonic -> Throughout the piece, often octaves in the trumpets in rhythm and a 3 part harmony in the trombones on beats 1 and 3

So, do you have any advice as to how I can go about emulating the scoring of the Beethoven's Fifth Finale in the C major section of my piece without making it sound too much like the Finale of Beethoven's Fifth?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I can really help here.

However, I have some advice bearing in mind what you have said. This:

5 hours ago, caters said:

I personally find it hard to emulate the scoring without it sounding like version 2.0 of a previously composed piece sometimes, especially as the ensemble gets larger.

And this:

5 hours ago, caters said:

Melodic -> It is pretty much only the horns and trombones that get this melodic role, I haven't seen a melody for trumpets go by even after looking at a video with score several times

You could give the trumpets a melodic role. That would change it up a bit. Modern trumpets are much better at melodies than ancient trumpets.

Some little things you could do:

•Tonic and dominant timpani hits and lots of them

•Think about having the upper woodwind (Flutes, Oboes, Clarinets) playing high, above the trumpets. This will give a heroic sound

•A homophonic texture could really help here

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...