Orchestration 1

This was the class that I had been looking forward to taking ever since I was accepted into Berklee Online’s “Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games Degree” program. It took me five terms to complete the prerequisite courses in order to take this class. The best part is that this was my favorite class so far.

Everything about it was as good or better than I had hoped for in a class. The teacher, Ben Newhouse, who is also the author of the course, was fantastic in every regard. He gave really helpful, useful and timely feedback on all assignments and communications, and was very inspiring as an instructor. The course materials were clear, coordinated and well thought out. Each week built logically on the previous and everything made sense to me. I can’t say enough good things about this class and feel very fortunate to have studied with Professor Newhouse.

Here’s what we covered during these twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Technological Considerations”
Course Structure, Samples, Samplers, MIDI, and Sequencers, Signal Flow in a MIDI Orchestration Studio, Signal Flow in a MIDI Orchestration Studio, How Sampling Patches Are Constructed, Trumpet Patch, Bass Drum Patch, Sequencing with Patches, Creating Dynamics in Your Sequence, On-Velocity, Beethoven Passage, Volume, Lyrical Melody, Expression, Separating Mixing and Dynamics, Dynamic Layers and Modulation, Workshop: Working with Dynamics, The Two Rules of MIDI Orchestration, Samples as Performers, Listening Exercise, Assignment 1: Technical Considerations

Week 2 – “Musical Considerations”, Jan 16th – Jan 22nd
Orchestral Sizes, Woodwinds and Percussion, The String Section, Historical Use of Orchestral Resources, Mozart Symphony, Tchaikovsky Symphony, Mahler Symphony, Movie Score, The String Section, Listening Exercise, Clefs, The Percussion Clef, Transposition, Transposition, Common Instruments and Transpositions, Title Page, Instrumentation Page, The Score, An Orchestral Score Page, Transposed and C Scores, Equivalent Scores, Multiple Parts on a Single Staff, The Part, Notation Programs, The Overtone Series, Checklist for Notated Scores, Assignment 2: A Notated Score

Week 3 – “String Writing I”, Jan 23rd – Jan 29th
String Instruments and Their Ranges, The Violin, The Viola, The Cello, Double Bass, Open Strings, Notating String Preferences, Strings and Key Signatures, Double-Stops, Effective Double-Stops, Shostakovich Symphony, Viable Triple-Stop Triads, Viable Quadruple-Stop Triads, Sample Types: Sustained, Using Sustained Samples, Sample Types: Tremolo, Sample Types: Staccato, Sample Types: Pizzicato, Sample Types: Crescendo and Diminuendo, Sample Types: Trill, Sample Types: Runs, Sample Types: Articulations, Transition Sounds, Repeated Notes, Sample Types: Additional Samples, Long and Short Samples, Phrase Samples, Sample Types: Conclusion, Combining Samples: Alternating, The Violin I Part, Combining Samples: Key Switches, Combining Samples: Layering, Acoustic Bowing Techniques, String Notation, Slur, Detache, and Staccato, Spiccato and Slurred Staccato, Bowing and Dynamics, Choosing Bowings, Sequencing Implications, Additional Playing Techniques, Jete and Sul Tasto, Sul Ponticello, Col Legno, Con Sordino and Trills, Tremolo, Natural Harmonics, Artificial Harmonics, Reconciling Acoustic Playing Techniques and Sample Types, Listening Exercise, Assignment 3: String Writing I

Week 4 – “String Writing II”, Jan 30th – Feb 5th
String Writing II, Jan 30th – Feb 5th, Introduction, 4-Part Writing, Haydn Symphony, Tchaikovsky Symphony, Five-Part Writing, Brahm’s Symphony, Doubling and Divisi Writing, Doubling and Divisi Example, Sequencing Divisi Parts, Presenting Melody, Presenting Melody: Violin, Presenting Melody: Viola, Presenting Melody: Cello, Presenting Melody: Bass, Presenting Melody: Octave Doublings, Voicing Chords, Key Points, Harmonic Treatment, String Movement, Harmonic Treatment Guidelines, Incorporating Solo Strings, Text Requirements in String Notation, Listening Exercise, Assignment 4: String Orchestration

Week 5 – “Brass Writing I”, Feb 6th – Feb 12th
Brass Section Introductions, Brass Instruments and Their Ranges, The Horn, The Trumpet, The Trombone, The Bass Trombone, The Tuba, Sample Types, Sample Type: Sustained, Sample Type: Staccato, Sample Types: Crescendo and Diminuendo, Sample Types: Articulations, Trombone Repetition Samples, Sample Types: Additional Samples, Common Phrase Samples, Combining Samples: Alternation, Combining Samples: Layering, Dynamics, Workshop: Sequencing Dynamics, Brass Melodic Presentation, Horn Melody, Trumpet Melody, Trombone Melody, Brass Mutes, Trumpet and Trombone Mutes, Cup and Harmon Mutes, Tuba and Horn Mutes, Stopped Horn Passages, The Cuivre Technique, Listening Exercise, Assignment 5: Brass Arrangement

Week 6 – “Brass Writing II”, Feb 13th – Feb 19th
Brass Section Size, Subgrouping, Acoustic Articulations, Workshop: Brass Articulations, Glissandi, Less Effective Glissandi, Horn, Trumpet, and Tuba, Chordal Voicings, Voicing Major Triads, Other Brass Voicings, Chordal Voicing Inversions, Bad Voicings, Chordal Voicings Wrapup, Using Brass for Harmonic Support, Using Brass to Support Strings, Exercise 6.1: Harmonic Support, Using Brass to Create a Climax, The Brass Fanfare, Brass and String Combinations, Text Requirements in Brass Notation, Listening Exercise, Assignment 6: Brass Writing II

Week 7 – “Woodwind Writing I”, Feb 20th – Feb 26th
Woodwind Background, Instrument Structure, Instrument Categorization, Woodwind Instruments and Their Ranges, The Piccolo, The Flute, The Oboe, The English Horn, The Bassoon, The Contrabassoon, The Clarinet, The Bass Clarinet, Common Sample Types, Sample Type: Staccato, Sample Type: Trills, Sample Type: Runs, Sample Types: Crescendo and Diminuendo, Sample Types: Legato Articulations, Sample Types: Repetition Articulations, Additional Sample Types, Acoustic Articulations, Woodwind Solos, The Flute, The Oboe, The English Horn, The Bassoon, The Clarinet, Listening Exercise, Assignment 7: Woodwind Solos

Week 8 – “Woodwind Writing II”, Feb 27th – Mar 5th
Woodwind Doublings, Possible Doublings, Doubling to Create a Unique Tone Color, Doubling to Create Growth, Doubling to Create a Climax, Doubling Woodwinds with Brass and Strings, Woodwind Chordal Voicings, Enclosure and Overlap, Creating Blend, Chord Tone Spacing, Counterlines, Textural Flourishes, Runs, Exercise 8.1: Using Woodwind Runs, estatement, Harmonic Arpeggiation, Harmonic Support, Listening Exercise, Text Requirements in Woodwind Notation, Assignment 8: Melody, Countermelody

Week 9 – “Percussion Writing I”, Mar 6th – Mar 12th
Percussion Categories, Pitched and Non-Pitched Percussion, Non-Pitched Membranophones: Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tambourine, Additional Non-Pitched Membranophones, Non-Pitched Idiophones: Crash Cymbal, Suspended Cymbal, Tam Tam, Wind Chimes, Triangle, Woodblocks, Additional Non-Pitched Idiophones, tched Membranophones: Timpani, Impossible Timpani Passages, Reasonable Timpani Passages, Timpani Sample Types, Pitched Idiophones: Xylophone, Marimba, Glockenspiel, Tubular Bells, Pitched Chordaphones: Harp, Harp Pedal Positions, Notating Pedal Positions, Notating a Pedal Change, Enharmonic Spellings, Unorthodox Chord Spellings, Glissandi, Harmonics, Pitched Chordaphones: Keyboards, Celesta, Additional Pitched Percussion Instruments, Listening Exercise, Exercise 9.1: Percussion Arrangement, Assignment 9: Final Project

Week 10 – “Percussion Writing II”, Mar 13th – Mar 19th
Notation Considerations, Staff Types, Mallet Types, Workshop: Notating a Snare Drum Part, Percussion Uses, Accent Highlights, Harmonic Support, Exercise 10.1: Short Percussion Sequence, Reply , Builds and Climaxes, Dynamic Extremes, Solo Statements, Doubling for Color, Listening Exercise, Assignment 10: Final Project

Week 11 – “Expansions of the Orchestral Sound”, Mar 20th – Mar 26th
Expanding the Orchestra with Choir and Ethnic Instruments, Using Choir Samples to Create Grandeur, Choir Parts, Ethnic Instruments, Drum Loops, Saxophones, Guitar, Overdubbing Soloists, Listening Exercise, Review of Key Points, Woodwinds and Percussion, Assignment 11: Final Project

Week 12 – “Full Ensemble Orchestration”, Mar 27th – Apr 2nd
Foreground, Middleground, Background I, Mahler Example, Orchestrating for a Larger Ensemble, Foreground, Middleground, and Background Material II, Mahler Example, Foreground, Middleground, and Background Material III, Full Piece Listening and Analysis 1, Full Piece Listening and Analysis 2, Full Piece Listening and Analysis 3, Full Piece Listening and Analysis 4, Assignment 12: Final Project, Final Exam

Here’s the notated score: