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How do you learn to write for an orchestra

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Jamerman, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. Jamerman


    Apr 8, 2013
    I have a pretty good background in music theory, and knowledge of what each instrument does in a typical orchestra, but I have no idea where to start with writing for one. Do you do what Beethoven (Apparantly) did and just write it all from your head, or use a piano or sequencer? I just find it really hard to write for something with so many instruments, and never getting the opportunity to get it played to hear if it sounds good in the context of an orchestra
  2. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    It really depends on how your creative process works. Some people write a melody and the harmony to go with it, and almost "finish" a piece of music independent of the instruments that they plan on performing it, and then orchestrate it out from there. Others write with a very conscious sense of what lines will be played by what instruments, and some go somewhere in the middle. Plenty of composers still work at the piano, but some are going straight into notation software, writing by hand, using a different instrument to help in the process etc.

    Keep in mind that although there are plenty of different instruments in an orchestra and they can be divided almost infinitely into sections, rarely do you find everyone doing something completely different from each other. Typically you have a melody, bass line, and harmony, and that could be it. Plenty of times when the focus is elsewhere in an orchestra entire sections are either playing simple harmonic support such as whole note chords, or large portions of the orchestra are resting/not playing at all. Counter melodies and two different ideas do happen simultaneously, but more often than not you have one idea that is being accompanied. Unison playing happens quite regularly. Sometimes, double bass and cello are a great example, sections entirely double other sections for the majority of the work. You can also write exclusively for string orchestra, or for any amount of winds, brass, percussion etc. depending on what you feel like. It can be intimidating, but once you get started, it isn't as crazy as it seems.
    ChuckCorbis likes this.
  3. Jamerman


    Apr 8, 2013
    Wow great post man :D I will try and apply as much of what you've said as possible

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