This week I went tutti again. Meaning the full orchestra participates in this orchestral sketch. The flutes, piccolo, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, triangle, violins, violas, cellos and double basses. So prepare yourself for a lot of power!
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The steps: from piano to orchestrated version
- 00:00 – Introduction to this orchestral sketch
- 00:58 – First listening (start on the piano and orchestrated version)
- 01:57 – The start (the simple piano line I started with)
- 03:47 – The harmony (building up chords for support)
- 04:51 – The extras (for some excitement in brass and percussion)
- 06:15 – Orchestration (the symphonic version I ended up with)
First listening to get an idea
I’m working for quite a while now on a new composition called “The boy who wanted to fly”. This orchestral sketch is linked to that work in progress, cause it is about sketching a flying feeling. Well actually, a feeling of falling down.
Let’s start as always with a first listening. First the piano line I started with and then the fully orchestrated version.
The start on the piano
A quick look at this piano line makes a lot clear. I hope.
We see a descending line in the first two bars and a rising line in the final two bars. A V figure. The descending line contains 16th notes. Perfectly falling down along the C Major scale.
I was inspired to write this line cause of all the hanons I practise for my piano lessons. If you don’t know what a hanon is, well simply said: a practise that is meant to develop the pianist speed, precision, skill, power in all fingers and flexibly in its wrists.
Yeah, sounds a bit dull maybe. But for me it’s a necessary practise to become better. And to be honest I like them. If you’re interested in practising hanons, this is the book I use: Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises.
After the descending line I wrote the rising line. Inspired by the orchestral sketch from last week about triplets. A closer look at these notes make it clear that I used the G chord for the 3rd bar. We go from G, to B, D, G, B, D, G. Falling down towards D and rising again until B.
With an ending in the fourth bar. There we go from B to G.
I guess this is a simple and basic step. Just like in some other sketches, the piano line is very busy. So I tend to hold back, be economical in the harmony. Simple and clean writing. That’s what I prefer in these situations.
So what have I done?
Well basically I thought about a chord progression. Which one would fit my idea. I ended up with V, V, V, I. So G, G, G to the tonic C. And I can’t make it more exiting than this.
The extras for brass and percussion
I just wanted a little bit more. Thinking about the brass and percussion. Cause I already made up my mind that the woodwinds and strings will do the busy piano line.
What about horns I thought? So I ended up with an extra line specifically for the horns. Rapid staccatos which add some excitement. With a support of the harmony in the last two bars.
In this case I went for a trill in the percussion section. I think about a triangle for example. I guess that will work. Just that little ringing sound in the background that you actually don’t hear, but that you’ll miss when it’s not there. I hope that this makes sense to you and that you understand what I mean. If not, feel free to ask about it in the comments on YouTube.
Orchestration for tutti
I’m always impressed when I see a written score for the full orchestra. Definitely when it’s a passage in tutti. It looks overwhelming in first sight. But when you dive into it and discover the patterns and logic in it, a new world will open up for you.
The violins one and two play the original piano line. I just gave it straight to them. I only added some legato lines and accents. That’s it. Just like I told you before. I had this in mind when I wrote the piano line.
The violas play the exact line, but an octave lower. The cellos play the second bar of the piano line, again an octave lower. Do you see the pattern, logic behind it already?
The woodwinds. A piccolo plays the original piano line until it reaches a level which – how will I say it – isn’t quite good anymore for this instrument. The flutes double the violins one and two all the way in the sixteenth notes passage. Two oboes do the same, but they start an octave lower for the first 8 sixteenth notes. The clarinets follow the pattern of the violas and oboes, but one of them goes an octave lower in the second bar than the oboe. The bassoons double the cellos in the second bar.
I gave the harmony part to the trumpets, trombones and tuba.
The horns play the part I wrote specifically for them in step 3. The triangle does the trill from step 3. And one thing I didn’t mention before, the timpani and bass drum mark the ending of the descending line.