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Old 08-20-2011, 06:57 PM
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Do composers need to write the music for every instrument individually or is there some other trick?

I was listening to the Imperial March from Star Wars (don't ask) and I wondered if John Williams had to write music for oboes, music for tubas, music for kettle drums, music for cellos, music for xylophones and so on.

Seems crazy to me that one person would manage to compile a whole score by writing individual bits for each instrument. Boggles the mind. Do you have the music in your head then tease out the individual instruments and write that? Do you have the individual pieces in your head and compile them? Something else?

Clearly we have an abundance of masterwork pieces from numerous composers. However they do it obviously it has been done and done a lot.

But how? I can't imagine the process.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 08-20-2011 at 07:43 PM.
Old 08-20-2011, 07:03 PM
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I know almost nothing about composing new music from personal experience, but I would expect that it usually starts by coming up with a single melodic line.

When you have a melody, the ways of creating pleasing harmonies for it are fairly easy to apply. I've heard that it's possible to write a computer program that will do a competent, if unimaginative, job at turning a single melody into four-part harmony.

Then you can start assigning the various parts out to different instruments.

Sorry for the WAG, I hope that it's somewhat helpful until an expert comes along.
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:14 PM
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Whack-a-mole, the work you are describing is the job of the Orchestrator, and my brother is one of the best in the business. He takes the score as written by the composer and separates it into the necessary parts. From what I understand, it is a manual job, done on computers but not by computers.

The composer might only supply the music scored for a piano, and then it is up to the Orchestrator to write out 3 or 4 violin parts, 3 or 4 cello parts, percussion, horns, etc. It is pretty impressive.
Old 08-20-2011, 07:21 PM
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Whack-a-mole, the work you are describing is the job of the Orchestrator, and my brother is one of the best in the business. He takes the score as written by the composer and separates it into the necessary parts. From what I understand, it is a manual job, done on computers but not by computers.

The composer might only supply the music scored for a piano, and then it is up to the Orchestrator to write out 3 or 4 violin parts, 3 or 4 cello parts, percussion, horns, etc. It is pretty impressive.
Interesting.

Did Beethoven and Mozart (as an example) do it similarly?

Obviously in those times there were no computers but lots of things we do with computers today were done by hand in the past. Computers may make it easier and less tedious but they are not required.

And I am unclear how a score is teased out into different pieces by another person. I assume they work closely with the composer but still...

Note I am not busting your chops. It's great you can answer with some expertise (why I love this message board). Just asking questions...please do not take them as a challenge.
Old 08-20-2011, 07:26 PM
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Just realized I misspelled "composers" in the title.

If a Mod would fix that I'd be appreciative.

Or I can live with the ignominy.
Old 08-20-2011, 07:41 PM
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Classical composers (as opposed to film composer) always orchestrated their own works (with very few exceptions).

It's not really a matter of writing a part for a violin and one for a tuba - many of them play very similar things and they are usually divided in sections. You basically write a piano piece that has a melody, a bass line and harmonies and divide that into the different section. That process is called orchestrating, and the reason it's done by different people in film is usually time constraints: the composition is the actual creative act, while orchestration can be learned and there are more "rules" to follow, although there are still going to be huge differences between a good and a mediocre orchestrator. It's definitely not something that can be done by a computer.

To take the imperial march as an example, you have the march rhythm in the strings and the snare drum, the melody in the brass instruments and the woodwinds take care of lots of other little parts. The part for the trombone and the trumpet is going to be very similar for much of the piece (not necessarily in another piece, though).

As a side note, Mozart is said to actually have written all his music in one draft to full score - no piano "reduction" - he basically wrote down what he had in his head already.

Last edited by Pitchmeister; 08-20-2011 at 07:43 PM.
Old 08-20-2011, 08:12 PM
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Here is what I have been led to understand.

First, you come up with the basic rhythm and basic melody and the basic harmony (perhaps just the chords) that backs them up. At this point, you have the structure of the piece. The rest is mostly filling it in.

The next part is figuring out which instruments are going to play what. This generally relies on looking at the sound qualities of the instruments. (Brass can sound triumphant, timpani can sound portentous, flutes can be heard over most other instruments, and so on.)

After this the basic melody has been developed a bit. It might be split among several instruments, played by one instrument and underscored by another, played by one instrument and undermined in a sense by another, and so on. The same goes for the harmonies, as well as the dynamics (when is it loud or soft or fast and slow). Then it's time for the little details, trills, pauses, crescendos, and so on.

It seems perhaps overwhelming when all you see is the end product, but it's a process of development, with a number of steps that get done slowly but surely. Obviously, not everyone will do it in exactly the same way, but the idea of development is the key.

So, on the whole, orchestral music gets composed like a book gets written. You don't just start with writing chapter one. First you figure out what sorts of characters you're going to have, then you figure out the basic trajectory of the story, and the themes that will support them. After that you sketch out things in a bit more detail, and then a bit more detail, and then you're writing a first draft.


Oh yeah, the parts for each instrument are written individually, either by the composer or the orchestrator, mostly because there is no other way to do it.

Last edited by RadicalPi; 08-20-2011 at 08:12 PM.
Old 08-20-2011, 08:23 PM
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There are lots of books about arranging -- Russell Garcia I believe I have, but also a handful of others I can't remember. Yes, basically, it's my understanding (from reading and being friends with grad students in music composition doctoral programs) that you have to know the range and capabilities of each instrument. Of course, an arranger (or composer, in many if not most cases) doesn't play every instrument, but everyone knows the lowest note a guitar can hit and all that.

My dad, who used to be a decent French horn player, to hear him tell it, can't explain to me a related question -- how would you know to notate the horn in F or Bb (because of that weird slide-thingie)?
Old 08-20-2011, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by chrisk View Post
When you have a melody, the ways of creating pleasing harmonies for it are fairly easy to apply. I've heard that it's possible to write a computer program that will do a competent, if unimaginative, job at turning a single melody into four-part harmony.
I am *not* an expert by any means, but I do have a pretty nice little book of originals (not arranged, just in lead sheets or chord sheets for the guitarists ) -- I always start with melody, and, when possible, crib harmonic progressions from general knowledge and the certainty that most people (including me) aren't that comfortable about playing on the job, with 30 seconds to read the chart ahead of time, some wild Wayne Shorter modal harmony. I suppose, start with a harmony that feels good to play over, then the fun stuff starts with coming up with a hip "line" to play over it, as a head arrangement. I guess I contradicted myself -- I do mean the last -- the harmony idea is in my mind already, and then work a nice melody over it. Change what wants to be changed.

Doesn't apply to through-composed music, I expect. But if I wanted to arrange for three horns/winds + rhythm -- start with the melody for me (personally) and make a way to have the harmony suit the melodic purpose.

Last edited by Jaledin; 08-20-2011 at 08:33 PM.
Old 08-20-2011, 09:32 PM
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BTW, WHY were you listening to the Imperial March?
Old 08-20-2011, 11:36 PM
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Re: film music, some composers (I believe Williams is one; Ennio Morricone is another) are their own orchestrators. These tend to be those deeply schooled in musical training.

Others (Danny Elfman is a good example) do not orchestrate at all. They compose themes and motifs and then collaborate with an orchestrator to finalize harmonics, instrumentation, and other tonal colorings.
Old 08-21-2011, 01:42 AM
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Another point is that not all instruments are playing at all times, so just because you've got a few dozen instruments in the orchestra doesn't mean you have to have a few dozen different parts for each moment of the piece. I've seen some works where, for instance, the tuba part consisted of 43 bars of rest, then four bars of playing, then another 40 bars of rest (though that's obviously an extreme case). And even when it's not rests, the parts for harmony instruments like the tuba are often very repetitive: It might just be the same measure repeated over and over, doing little more than helping to establish the beat.
Old 08-21-2011, 09:29 AM
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BTW, WHY were you listening to the Imperial March?
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(don't ask)
Naughty, naughty!
Old 08-21-2011, 09:34 AM
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Not only did Mozart probably write every note, he had to draw the staff lines, too, as there was no pre-printed music paper back then.
Old 08-21-2011, 11:11 AM
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There were always derisive sneers among my composition professors about film composers, who took a "lead sheet approach" to orchestral composing. Only the more modernist composers like Herrmann and Goldsmith got a pass.

John Williams, despite his fame or perhaps because of it, does not orchestrate his film scores. Google Conrad Pope, and find out how many other composers have their works orchestrated for them.

It depends what you want them to do. If you want huge swaths of strings with a solo oboe, I could have "orchestrated" that for you back in my undergrad days. If you want something with layers of complexity and extended technique instrumentation...something like Berlioz or Ravel or the like...then you really need someone who's a real orchestra virtuoso.

In the case of JW, it's not that he's not eminently qualified to do this work. It's that when you consider the time constraints on a composer post-production for a film, it makes more sense to use another person on the "music team" to do that sort of grunt work, in this case Conrad Pope!
Old 08-21-2011, 12:54 PM
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My dad, who used to be a decent French horn player, to hear him tell it, can't explain to me a related question -- how would you know to notate the horn in F or Bb (because of that weird slide-thingie)?
The person doing the orchestrations does need to know a bit about the instruments he's/she's arranging for.

Aside from just the "ranges" of the instruments (which can be tricky; a particularly talented soloist with a good instrument can be counted on to hit some notes that an 'average' professional cannot. So, depending on who the target performers are, certain things may or may not be available to you. Also, instruments will have different timbres at different parts of their ranges, which, while technically playable, may not sound like what you expect or want the instrument to sound like), there are issues like playability; giving a G#-A trill to a saxophone is a pretty demanding thing to require because of fingering on the instrument.

Also, knowing about more detailed and advanced things about playing techniques; anyone can write a melody line for a violin and say, "here, play it!" But, bowing and articulations are pretty important to a nice, finished piece, and as an orchestrator, you need to be familiar with those techniques, what they sound like, and what their ranges and limitations are.
Old 08-21-2011, 01:06 PM
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We studied this and called it transposition in my music theory class. Our last project involved taking a piano piece and transposing for several band instruments.

Thankfully we didn't have to do the entire band or orchestra. I didn't realize there was an Orchestrator until I read this thread.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-21-2011 at 01:07 PM.
Old 08-21-2011, 01:31 PM
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We studied this and called it transposition in my music theory class. Our last project involved taking a piano piece and transposing for several band instruments.
I think you mean transcription. Transposition is simply changing the key.
Old 08-21-2011, 01:32 PM
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That's right. I always got those two words mixed up.
Thanks
Old 08-21-2011, 05:03 PM
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Aside from just the "ranges" of the instruments (which can be tricky; a particularly talented soloist with a good instrument can be counted on to hit some notes that an 'average' professional cannot. So, depending on who the target performers are, certain things may or may not be available to you. Also, instruments will have different timbres at different parts of their ranges, which, while technically playable, may not sound like what you expect or want the instrument to sound like)
Wind instruments will have an absolute minimum pitch that it's simply impossible to go below, no matter how talented the performer. And you're well-advised to give that absolute minimum a fair bit of margin: Many notes will be missing entirely down near the minimum, and others will be horribly out of tune. Plus, unless the performer has lungs the size of an elephant's, it's really, really hard to maintain those cellar notes for any significant length of time (I was able to hit the bottom of the tuba's range, but after about a quarter note of it, I'd be gasping for breath). On the high end, though, there's no hard limit at all, and it's limited only by the performer (though it's probably still unwise to go much beyond two octaves of total range on a brass instrument).

Oh, and one other tool that the orchestrator uses: There are certain combinations of instruments that are fairly standard. Everyone "knows" that a tuba goes "oom pah pah", for instance, except that it doesn't. The "oom" is usually played on tuba, with the "pah pah" being answered by the French horn.
Old 08-21-2011, 07:07 PM
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We studied this and called it transposition in my music theory class. Our last project involved taking a piano piece and transposing for several band instruments.
I don't think you mean transposing or transcribing, but arranging. Transposing = key change; transcribing = writing down what you hear; arranging = taking a work for one instrument or group of instruments and rewriting it for another instrument or group (or the same). Arranging can be extremely faithful to the original, or wildly, creatively, different.
Old 08-21-2011, 08:59 PM
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While this has nothing to do with orchestral scores, per se, it might be of interest for the curious anyway.

Sometimes church choir music is scored so that there is a part written for a "C-intstrument".

Last December, my handbell choir played at all three church services. We had a flute at once service, a clarinet at another, and a violin at the third.

The violinist played by far the most interesting part--because it was played by a violin teacher, with a whole lot more knowledge and experience than either of the others.

In casual contexts like this, in my experience, the composer or arranger of the sheet music may have written a part, but often the choir director can make up a part that does what she or he wants it to do.

Or sometimes the intstrumentalist can make up the part.

On which note, it was funny when the new choir director at my church wanted to reprise a song originally played with a saxophone solo. He hadn't realized that the saxophonist had made up his own part (and was perfectly willing and able to make a up a new part this time) rather than having music provided for him.

Although, on the other hand, this kind of improvising may veer pretty far off of what the composer intended . . .
Old 08-21-2011, 09:42 PM
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I'm pretty sure woodwinds have an upper maximum, although it's higher than you'd expect. I know, for example, that there is physical limit to how high you can lip up that G twice above the staff. I'm pretty sure it's around Bb.
Old 08-21-2011, 10:58 PM
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I'm pretty sure woodwinds have an upper maximum, although it's higher than you'd expect. I know, for example, that there is physical limit to how high you can lip up that G twice above the staff. I'm pretty sure it's around Bb.
Stupid joke, but I just heard Maynard Ferguson's "Brass Attitude" again last night. No one plays high notes like the lip! Why would an orchestrator try to deliberately harm a performer??!!

I think there might be some internal politics at work, as in, he said, she didn't, he wrote, she wrote, he tried to play, he didn't.
Old 08-22-2011, 01:41 AM
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I'm pretty sure woodwinds have an upper maximum, although it's higher than you'd expect. I know, for example, that there is physical limit to how high you can lip up that G twice above the staff. I'm pretty sure it's around Bb.
I'm not sure what would set that limit. You can play different notes with the same fingering on a woodwind, right? Well, just do the same thing you do to get a higher note, except do more of it. On a brass instrument, this would be tightening one's lips more, but I'm not sure of the wood equivalent.
Old 08-22-2011, 02:11 AM
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I'm not sure what would set that limit. You can play different notes with the same fingering on a woodwind, right? Well, just do the same thing you do to get a higher note, except do more of it. On a brass instrument, this would be tightening one's lips more, but I'm not sure of the wood equivalent.
Not really. You can on the flute, but it's not really a woodwind. On a clarinet at least, the difference registers required altered fingerings. I can only think of one exception: you can play the C above the staff or G above that with the same fingering, although it's difficult, and the latter sounds much more shrill and out of tune, and as thus is never included on any charts.

I sat around trying to go higher and higher on my clarinet, and the highest note I could hit was the Bb, no matter how hard I shoved the clarinet up my mouth and tightened the embouchure, I couldn't get it to go any higher.

Here's a website that shows all the fingerings of a clarinet. You'll note that each note is at least slightly different, even if you include the alternate fingerings.
Old 08-22-2011, 04:34 AM
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Increasingly these days, film and television composers are expected to do everything from scratch by themselves. Things like proper orchestration and actual musicians playing real instruments are getting rarer.

Last edited by Kim o the Concrete Jungle; 08-22-2011 at 04:35 AM.
Old 08-22-2011, 08:56 AM
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I don't think you mean transposing or transcribing, but arranging. Transposing = key change; transcribing = writing down what you hear; arranging = taking a work for one instrument or group of instruments and rewriting it for another instrument or group (or the same).
Transcription has both meanings. The term "arrangement" is used more in the popular music world; "transcription" is used more in the classical world.
Old 08-22-2011, 11:48 AM
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Increasingly these days, film and television composers are expected to do everything from scratch by themselves. Things like proper orchestration and actual musicians playing real instruments are getting rarer.
True, however that doesn't remove the need for orchestration - instead of writing the parts individually the composer would now have to create every instrument part from whatever orchestral library he's using. You still need to know which instruments sound good together.
Old 08-22-2011, 12:35 PM
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Ah, OK, that would set a limit, then, since there's only a finite number of fingerings. I'm only really familiar with the brasses, where lip tension is arguably even more important than fingerings (considering that some brasses don't even have fingerings at all).
Old 08-22-2011, 04:17 PM
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True, however that doesn't remove the need for orchestration - instead of writing the parts individually the composer would now have to create every instrument part from whatever orchestral library he's using. You still need to know which instruments sound good together.
It does make orchestration A LOT easier, though. Most of the decent orchestral sample libraries already have each instrument mapped such that you can't go out it's range, so knowing the ranges of the instruments isn't really needed. Plus, you can use trial and error to find the instruments that go well together a lot easier with a sample library than hiring an entire orchestra.

I've been a composer and orchestrator for small scale multi-media, commercial, web, and film projects. Almost all of them required me to do everything myself with my computer and sample libraries. I'd love to hear some of my pieces done by a live orchestra - that would be amazing... I probably would even get a little emotional...
Old 08-22-2011, 04:35 PM
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Interesting. I'd like to hear more -- to get started, I knew a few film/soundstage guys who used to pretty much do *everything* in Sibelius (it's a software program with ability to include sample libraries, IIRC, or probably VSTis, or pretty much anything else, other than those included with the suite).

Do people in the field use things as specialized as other musicians who only play one or two instruments do? Like, Ivory plug-in for piano, or Scarbee's vintage keys samples (Rhodes, Wurlitzer EP), and so forth (lots of people use modeled VSTi Hammond, but I haven't done that for ages, long since B4 was in its grave, since the hardware is so good now)? Or is it pretty well standardized, as in, "that's good enough" to get a rough orchestration happening?

Last edited by Jaledin; 08-22-2011 at 04:38 PM.
Old 08-22-2011, 07:03 PM
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The Sibelius-type apps (ones that are like word processors for musical notation) are basically the same as most other audio apps that run sample libraries - they're all just MIDI sequencers. The Sibelius front-end is just a familiar (to some musicians) interface (staffs, notes, etc.) for them to enter MIDI data. They're great for composers who know how to read an write sheet music.

I, on the other hand, am not so well trained in that arena, so I'd rather "program" the MIDI notes or just record myself performing them on a MIDI controller - unusally a "piano"-looking keyboard that controls the notes, volume, and articulations of the particular instrument I'm trying to emulate. There's some VERY good orchestral sample libraries out there that, when used correctly, are able to fool most people into believing they're listening to a full orchestra.

Basically, my method is to tinker on a nice piano sound until I come across a melody or theme that's to my liking. Once I get those MIDI notes down, I can load any instruments I want to play them. After I have a main melody I like, then I start playing around with counter-melodies and harmonies using other instruments and pretty much build it as I go, creating the structure of the piece as well as paying attention to the articulations I want the instruments to perform.

The software I use is Propellerhead's Reason along with the GPO Orchestral Library. Works for me...
Old 08-22-2011, 07:12 PM
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Do people in the field use things as specialized as other musicians who only play one or two instruments do? Like, Ivory plug-in for piano, or Scarbee's vintage keys samples (Rhodes, Wurlitzer EP), and so forth (lots of people use modeled VSTi Hammond, but I haven't done that for ages, long since B4 was in its grave, since the hardware is so good now)? Or is it pretty well standardized, as in, "that's good enough" to get a rough orchestration happening?
Orchestral libraries are (hopefully) made to sound good together, so mixing a whole bunch of different specialised plug-ins probably isn't the way to go. Packages like the Vienna Symphonic Library are so vast that it can be quite difficult to even master the one, you wouldn't want to complicate your workflow by adding many more into the mix. Additionally, there aren't that many non-keyboard stand-alone instruments out there - I've never seen an oboe or cello plug-in, for example. If you're going for a specific sound of a Hammond or a synthesizer, though, then I don't see a reason not to use a more specialised tool.
Old 08-22-2011, 07:42 PM
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My dad, who used to be a decent French horn player, to hear him tell it, can't explain to me a related question -- how would you know to notate the horn in F or Bb (because of that weird slide-thingie)?
There are actually several things going on here. There's the range of the instrument, which has been already discussed and you may already understand.

The common "double horn" is what you're asking about - the French horn gets an increased range by essentially being two instruments in one. The F side is pitched lower and has a lower theoretical range, while the Bb side is pitched higher, making it easier to play higher notes. The music makes no indication to the player. The player makes the choice of which notes to play with the trigger*, and they just use the different fingerings for those notes.

For example, with the horn in F the written note D is played with the first valve fingered. With the Bb trigger, that exact same note D is played with the first two valves fingered. The lip tightness is roughly equivalent to the note you'd play with the first two valves down in F, which would be an A just below that D.

It's less confusing than it sounds for a player to learn; consider that woodwinds do something similar for every note they play. Brass players (especially horn players) actually do a lot more adjusting with the lip, since the harmonics don't always line up. Hitting the "wrong" fingerings isn't so much of a problem, especially on the high notes. In relation to the rest of the brass instruments (which tend to use the same fingerings for the same written notes), it's the F side that's "correct".

Most modern music is written for Horn in F. Indeed, not all players use a double horn anyway and their horns are simply in F. The slightly complicating factor it used to be the case that instead of being transposed, all horn music was written in the key of the piece. Horn players would actually use a different main slide (known as a "crook") for each piece. For these historical reason, any quality horn player will be expected to know how to transpose from any key for classical music. Crooks are still occasionally used by concert band players - a lot of band music is written for horn (or an equivalent instrument) in Eb, so having an Eb crook is not unknown.

*The "trigger" is the term for the valve, operated by the thumb, that switches between the F and Bb side.
Old 08-22-2011, 08:21 PM
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So if I get this right, all I have to do is find the right orchestrator, and tell him "I've got a tune in my head that goes like this: duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh, la-la-la-la la-la-la-la la-la-la-la etc." and then I'm done composing? It's easier than I thought!
Old 08-22-2011, 09:09 PM
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The common "double horn" is what you're asking about - the French horn gets an increased range by essentially being two instruments in one. The F side is pitched lower and has a lower theoretical range, while the Bb side is pitched higher, making it easier to play higher notes. The music makes no indication to the player. The player makes the choice of which notes to play with the trigger*, and they just use the different fingerings for those notes.
Fascinating. Yes, I did know it was not really a "slide thingie," but a little button or "trigger," but I had no idea it was essentially up to the horn player to sight-transpose (from the already-transposed horn key chart). I know enough horn and wind players to know that sight-transposing is a pretty common skill, but it's rare enough in jazz that it's still somewhat remarkable (for me). Hell, I can't do it on keys except for something pretty rudimentary and in slight modulations, and yet I'm supposed to be able to do it all the time (because of those lazy-a** chick singers).

Interesting above, BigShooter -- yes, I thought a few minutes after posting that using a more general term might be better, but I had the impression that Sibelius had become more or less the "ProToolz" of the orchestrating/arranging world. Commonly used, but still just another front end for well-developed technology. Do you actually step-input via MIDI (keys, in your case, but it could easily be a MIDIfied guitar, I guess, or whatever) or use that little block-interface all sequencers (that I've seen) have for modifying input data?
Old 08-22-2011, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
So if I get this right, all I have to do is find the right orchestrator, and tell him "I've got a tune in my head that goes like this: duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh, la-la-la-la la-la-la-la la-la-la-la etc." and then I'm done composing? It's easier than I thought!
Yep, you got it.

I am totally tapping my toes to this. Whoa, now I'm dancing around the house, singing it.

Though the "duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh" part is reminiscent of The Police, and the "la-la-la-la la-la-la-la la-la-la-la" part is pure Delphonics.
Old 08-22-2011, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by antonio107 View Post
There were always derisive sneers among my composition professors about film composers, who took a "lead sheet approach" to orchestral composing.
Also sneers from classical composers. Years and years ago, I read an anecdote about Igor Stravinsky (sorry, can't remember where). He lived in the Los Angeles area from some point in the 40s until his death in (I think) 1971. He was a pretty big star in the music world, especially for a classical composer, and sometime around 1960, he was approached by a film producer to write the score for a new film. When asked his price, he named some (then) outlandish sum, like $1,000,000. The producers gasped, and said something like "Maestro Stravinsky, that will eat up our whole budget! After all, after we pay you, we'll have to pay the orchestrator too!" According to the account I read, Stravinsky was horribly insulted, and walked out of the meeting. I can kind of see why -- Stravinsky was (and is) acknowledged as one of the great masters of orchestration, and the producers ignorantly implied that he wasn't up to orchestrating his own music. I suppose they weren't really that ignorant -- in their world, the composer and the orchestrator were always two different people.
Old 08-22-2011, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaledin View Post
Interesting above, BigShooter -- yes, I thought a few minutes after posting that using a more general term might be better, but I had the impression that Sibelius had become more or less the "ProToolz" of the orchestrating/arranging world. Commonly used, but still just another front end for well-developed technology. Do you actually step-input via MIDI (keys, in your case, but it could easily be a MIDIfied guitar, I guess, or whatever) or use that little block-interface all sequencers (that I've seen) have for modifying input data?
I actually perform most of my parts one at a time on my MIDI keyboard and record the MIDI notes into my sequencer. Then I'll go back and use the block interface to clean things up, fix minor timing issues, and make the articulations sound as realistic as possible by messing with velocity, volume, etc.

Here's a piece I did a while ago for a movie treatment that never came to be. Not a ton of orchestration, but it'll give you an idea how realistic a good library can sound when you give some attention to certain detail in the MIDI editing:

Cowboy

And here's another I did for a film graduate's project at the local state college. He wanted something like the theme to "Game of Thrones" on HBO, so I basically ripped off the drum rhythms and structure of that show's theme and put my own melodies over the top. A lousy ripoff, I know, but it had to be done quick and the student wasn't being picky. Still, it's a good example of what can be achieved fairly easily once you have the knowledge...

Before The Storm
Old 08-22-2011, 10:56 PM
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Quoth panamajack:
Quote:
In relation to the rest of the brass instruments (which tend to use the same fingerings for the same written notes),
Other brass instruments may not use them as much, but we do have alternate fingerings for many notes. For instance, F (on an instrument based on the B flat scale) can be open or 13, and 3 by itself is equivalent to 12 (and on a four-valve instrument, 4 is usually equivalent to 13). I was never all that great a performer, but one thing I excelled at was the alternate fingerings, since I was somehow always ending up with the tuba with the sticky valves.
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