I had a lot of fun preparing this new orchestral sketch. This time a bit more challenging. I don’t know what your relationship is with the Brass section, but I tend to avoid it. Maybe a bit scared by its power. I’m not sure. So this time we go from a simple (kinda stately ceremonial) melody line on the piano to a fully orchestrated version with the focus on brass. Of course, every done in StaffPad. An amazing app for composers that I started to use in June 2020 on my iPad.
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The steps: from piano to symphonic (orchestral) version
- 0:34 – first listening piano melody and orchestrated version
- 1:38 – the melody line
- 2:13 – thickening part I (chords, intervals, motion and pedal note)
- 7:29 – thickening part II (higher ranges)
- 8:13 – orchestration (my thoughts and ideas)
- 9:46 – symphonic version (the full score)
Thickening part I
Step number one is all about thickening the low range. Three points I want to mention which I think are important when doing this step:
- think in terms of chords
- pay attention to the intervals and motion
- ask yourself the question: can I use a pedal note
These are definitely no rules that need to be applied blindly. I see them more as a guideline that helps me develop the melody.
When we have a closer look at the thickening part in the video, you’ll notice that the C3 note repeats. In my DAW this is C3, but it could also be C2. It depends how you have set up your middle C in your DAW. Sounds quite technical and maybe confusing. If you want to know more, I did a video about middle C in your DAW.
The repeating note C is my pedal note. Great for creating a blur and harmonic dissonance in some parts.
On top of the C I have added more notes. Starting with one and ending with two. The reason behind it, I wanted to start mezzo forte and end with forte. So more thickening at the end. I guess I will and up with lots of brass!
At this point I start to think in chords and check my intervals. What about these intervals? To get a great harmonic sound I favour imperfect consonances like 3s and 6s (or 10s) intervals. You can simply check them by counting. In the video I show you how.
I also keep an eye on the pattern of motion. Is it parallel motion, contrary motion or oblique motion.
These are all complex and big concepts that I quickly mention so let it sink in. Google these concepts if you’re not familiar with them. And feel free to ask any questions in the comments on Youtube. I don’t want these sketches to be about music theory, but knowing some will definitely help you.
Thickening part II
I started with the thickening in the low range, but of course it can be done in the higher ranges too. So again I added some notes on top in the higher ranges. Mainly in the last two bars to support the forte sound that I want to have in this part.
Now again thinking in chords and intervals are my guidelines. So hopefully this should look and feel familiar to you.
Thinking about orchestration
We have developed the single melody line mostly by thickening. What kind of thoughts raise about orchestration when looking at this version.
By the way, these are my thoughts. Again, I’m learning and training my skills. So you could have made different decisions. And that’s fine! I definitely don’t own the truth on this matter. So if you have other ideas about the orchestration, I would love to hear in the comments!
Ok. I wanted brass. So the top melody line is for the trumpets. Supported by the violins. Maybe the violins 1 in 8va (an octave higher). I could also add a flute in 8va or maybe 15va.
Horns supporting to the trumpets. I guess that will sound great. Trombones supporting the low range together with the cellos. And down there the double basses, bass trombone and tuba. I guess this should work.