In this section of our website, we will be adding orchestration tips and tricks, with many specific to using sample libraries and instruments within a computer environment.
Orchestration is, in very simple terms, a means of taking an idea, and writing or scoring it to be played by a chosen instrument ensemble. If the composer starts with a basic melody, and writes it out in for example a piano part, then he or she is said to have orchestrated the idea, even if for one instrument. In generally accepted terms, orchestrating an idea is an explosion of a piano or simple notated part out to a larger ensemble.
There are publications far more extensive than our brief summary here, including some famous books and resources that have been accepted as definitive in their value as recognised sources of study for any composer. These include:
The Principles of Orchestration (N. Rimsky-Korsakov)
Treatise on Instrumentation (Berlioz, foreword by Richard Strauss)
Instrumentation and Orchestration (Alfred Blatter)
This short list is by no means extensive, but provides a useful start point for the aspiring composer, and a continuing reference for experienced writers and composers. Those interested in learning more about composing can browse for a greater range.
A mention should be made here of Arnold Schoenberg, who approached orchestration, and the art of composing , from a purely mental perspective, scoring completely from his head without the use of a piano, as he considered this an act of immediate limitation that got in the way of a purely creative process. Schoenberg was an excellent teacher, and wrote many useful tutorials for composing with a modern orchestra. He was also responsible for the Chart of the Regions, a map of associated key signatures, and possible cadences, that is still in extensive use today, within many Conservatories, and musical learning institutions.
I will also add the following, from personal experience and observation:
Notation is a language, and a means of communication. Nothing more or less. The perception of Notation as a "pure" component belies the reality that is the mass of great musicians who don't read or write music. This might seem a strange and rather blunt appraisal to make on a website, but it is important to acknowledge the skills that many non notational musicians with respect. I have personally worked with a blind from birth piano player who astonished me constantly with his craftsmanship, and virtuoso skills.
So i recommend the addition of reading and writing notation not from a purist, or 'required' perspective, in order to join a elitist club, but as a proven and practical method of conveying your ideas to performers, using a common method that has worked for a very long time, successfully. I encourage those who wish to write music, that will be performed by others, to spend the time learning to notate. It takes time, as notation is a language to learn, but will add an important practical skill to the composer's toolbox. You won't be required to wear a powdered wig, or use a turkey feather and ink to write notes, but you will gain much, and an experienced and practical notational skill will make the process of creating music for performance by others, considerably easier.
Much of today's Notation is written in a computer using specialist application to do the job. Commercial applications like Sibelius, Final and Igor Engraver have been around for a while, and are reasonable well known. In Opensource, the MuseScore application is our equivalent, as it provides a WYSIWYG interface, which the user can work in, with some speed.
There is another means, in the modern computer world, of recording and editing "notes", and that's the PianoRoll style found in most major applications, including OOM. Most modern composers can read pianoroll as easily as they can more formal notation, and the pianoroll is definitely here to stay, as a viable alternative, with it's editable at any level format, and the main canvas, the modern day manuscript. The pianoroll style canvas in OOM is the Performer.
Work in Progress.........