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Writing orchestral style music... where to start?


pariah223

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Hello,

 

I have been writing music for many years now. mainly 5 piece stuff including 2 guitars, a bass, drums and vocals. And i have recently wanted to get into more orchestral style music writing... Hollywood style to be exact.. I have always been known to have a whole visual story to go along with my songs, and i think orchestra style music is the best place to express that. Problem is, i dont know much about flutes, or strings, or any of that to know where to start. I figure ill start by using midi to get my ideas down, but just having a midi keyboard, and actually knowing the range and dynamics these instruments can offer is 2 different things. Are there any good resources for getting started? books or websites or even videos? Thanks

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A search turned up this pdf: http://www.roedyblack.com/PGS_Products_Charts/Musical_Instruments_Poster.htm. Seems like it would be helpful and there's a free version. I haven't done any work like this so there might be better resources, but it's a start. Lots of music theory texts have similar charts along with lots of other useful information as far as traditional Western music goes. I used Tonal Harmony by Kostka & Payne.

 

Jeremy

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Most importantly, have a program for classical composition. Finale or Sibellius are good, the latter being what I use. I also agree with yermej, research some theory. The kostka book is actually what my theory classes use, and while I don't read it because I'm too lazy, it's probably a good book if we're supposed to use it =P

 

I also do suggest listening to classical pieces, especially film scores without the visual. Try to visualize what's going on by the music alone, see how certain impressions are made. If you can get your hands on a score or two, do so. Analyze it to death. Orchestral music is extremely complex.

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Get orchestral scores, especially Stravinsky and Faure, both 20th century masters. Most modern film music, for example, is based on the style of those two composers. Then listen to the music as you read along with the score. When you hear something you like, or would like to imitate, look at the score and all their secrets will be revealed. The composer can't hide what he's done 'cause it's all written down in the score. You can buy orchestral scores at any big bookstore or at Amazon.

 

Anyway, that's the method I used, and it worked for me. (I only write orchestral music myself.)

 

And as Floophead3 said, use scoring software, not sequencing software. You can get expensive ones like Finale and Sibelius, but I use a cheap shareware that works great, called Noteworthy Composer. (Google it)

 

--gary

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Get orchestral scores, especially Stravinsky and Faure, both 20th century masters. Most modern film music, for example, is based on the style of those two composers.

 

 

I'm the last person to able to give good advice about this but I would think that listening to some good composers would be helpful - I think picking just two is a bit narrow though. Listen to as much as you can (in addition to the two mentioned): Prokofiev, Debussy, Bartok, Mahler, Sibelius, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Copland, Ligeti, Wagner, Webern - ah, too many to mention!

 

And of course listen to some good film composers like Morricone, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Howard Shore, John Williams etc...

 

(I once came across a web link that had a chart of the various instruments of the orchestra and their note ranges - it may even have shown the equivalent midi values. I'll see if I can dig that up although it's a very fuzzy memory now...maybe someone else knows of something like this out there...)

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writing orchestral style music....where to start? THEME. develop a theme. it is the foundation. it's like the 'hook' of classical music. start with it....and then start playing with secondary and tertiary elements to 'get the listener there.'

 

that's where i'd start, anyway.

 

good luck!

 

g

 

PS - to answer what it is you're ACTUALLY asking, get yourself sibelius or makemusic's finale. it wouldn't hurt to grab garritan personal orchestra, too. (i know they say it comes with it, but you get a limited [{censored}ty-sounding] version...go buy the real deal.)

 

i use finale and GPO. i actually found more use for GPO in FL studio for string/horn arrangements on my tunes.

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thanks for the advice guys, I forgot to mention i picked up a nice new axiom 49 (shoulda gotten 61 in hindsight) and i got a copy of reason (shoulda got finale in hindsight). I guess asking the sales reps at guitar center what a good program for programming midi is if your looking to do orchestral style stuff is a bad idea. Reason is a really cool program, but i find it lacks the structure needed for doing what im talking about., i guess most people think synth and stuff when they think of midi. Oh well, thanks for all the resources, im gunna check out finale asap and try and dust off my old theory buried deep in my head. I played saxaphone for 8 years in school, so with a little practice, i should be able to read music again.

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ahhh. you just dumped dough. i see. well, i think finale has a free trial. idon't know how extensive it is, but "free" makes it worth checking out. it's super CPU-intensive. i should mention that. i'm running an intel duocore with 2GB and it's slow.

 

as far as reason, you can work that. you can also get the sounds in there. i think reason supports Kontakt player, so that opens the door for Garritan. like i said, i use Garritan in FL! that's fukt! and it works amazingly. honestly, sometimes arranging in the FL/Reason format instead of arranging on staves like in Finale is easier. you should try it. i bet if you got some good sound to work with, you'd be pretty happy with reason.

 

also, MOTU's "symphonic instrument" is pretty farking awesome. you should check that one out, too.

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