Recently I started working on a new composition. One that starts quietly with a beautiful children choir slowly working towards the first transition. And that is what this orchestral sketch is about: sketching out a four bar tutti transition.
Don’t forget to hit that like button if you appreciate this video. Also sub to my channel for my music and videos about how to write orchestral music for film.
The steps: from piano to orchestrated version
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 00:55 – First listening (start on the piano and orchestrated version)
- 02:13 – Start on the piano (tonic, dominant & resolution)
- 03:30 – The A Chord (let’s make it bigger than life!)
- 04:48 – Orchestration (the symphonic version I ended up with)
A tutti transition sketch
There are numerous ways to sketch out a tutti transition part. This one is going from loud to soft. But it could have been done the other way around too. Going from soft to loud. I guess that depends on what just happened before the transition in your composition.
And how you want to use it of course. With that I mean you could also do a transition from forte to triple forte towards a grand finale.
Numerous ways, just like I said before. So I guess I will be doing more orchestral sketches about a tutti transition.
First listening to get an idea
So I have a clear idea what I’m after in this orchestral sketch. A tutti transition. Meaning all the orchestral instruments take part in it.
I already want to warn you. This is going to be loud! Maybe you want to dial back the volume, cause we start as usual with a quick listening to the starting piano line and the orchestrated tutti transition version.
It all starts with one note on the piano
On first sight there isn’t much to talk about. There is only one note that repeats the entire four bars. And that’s the A.
But there is a reason why this is an A. And I guess that the most important thing about this starting line.
When you have watched the video you maybe already noticed the key signatures on the staff. There are three sharps. On the C, F and G. And that makes it a Major A scale.
Again, you can do tutti transition parts in numerous ways, but I tend to write them on the tonic (I) for resolution. Or use the dominant (V) for maximum dissonance.
Why the A Major Scale?
Maybe you wonder why did you pick the Major A scale? Well, I do my sketches in many different scales just to learn them. To get a feeling how the scale sounds, what it evokes in me, to get a better understanding of it.
So there is no bigger thought behind it. I could have done this in the good old C major too. And then the A would have been a C.
I guess we don’t have to listen again to this starting line. So let’s continue with the next step.
The A Chord – Let’s make it bigger than life!
Again, we compose in A Major. The tonic is A. The chord we want to work with is A. And that chord consists of A, C# and E.
We have ten fingers. So we should be able to play ten notes simultaneously on the piano. Right?
Let’s fill them in. We start on the low A (A2) and we work our way up (until A5).
Simple? Yes! There is no magical or complicated theory behind this. It’s really straightforward.
This is a massive A chord. The chord that will be our basis for the next step. The orchestration.
Orchestration – the tutti transition version I ended up with
I wanted tutti. So lots of orchestral instruments are in the score this time. The woodwind section, the brass section, the timpani and the strings.
The woodwinds play the high notes with the exception of the bassoons.
The brass section plays between C2 and C5. A very wide range. I did that on purpose, cause in my opinion you need to write brass with a lot of space between them. Otherwise, the sound gets cluttered and muddy.
The timpani plays a simple trill or roll if you would like.
And last but not least, the strings play in their favourite ranges.
Tremolo for more excitement and tension
For the ones with the eyes (and ears!) with great detail, I wrote the strings in tremolo. That gives more tension, more excitement to the transition if you will.
Not familiar with tremolo? Simply said tremolo is a trembling effect. There are two types of tremolo, but for bowed instruments like strings tremolo is normally a fast reiteration of a single note by rapidly moving the bow back and forth.
Alright. So this is what I ended up with this time. And I already benefited from this sketch. Cause I applied the concept behind this orchestral sketch in the composition I currently work on.
Hopefully it inspires and helps you too. Get you going to write orchestral transition parts in your own composition.
Let’s do a final listening.