The misses in my house loves to watch period drama on Netflix. Nice and comfy on the couch with a blanket. I personally don’t. But sometimes my ears do. They are drawn towards that typical music style. So I thought, let’s do an orchestral sketch that fits this period drama genre.
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Timestamps of the video
- 00:00 – Introduction (with important info about download link!)
- 01:15 – First listening to the sketch
- 02:12 – The basic pattern (a bunch of 8th notes)
- 03:33 – Thickening (building up chords with syncopated rhythm)
- 05:18 – Accents (I think about violins I)
- 06:54 – Melody one (counterpoint, intervals and motion again!)
- 08:15 – Melody two (I challenge you!)
- 09:36 – Orchestration (which instruments fits this period drama genre the best?)
- 11:28 – Wrap up
Before we start, just in case you have missed it, last week I released The Boy Who Wanted To Fly. My first small symphony with an original story.
If you haven’t listened to it yet, I surely invite you to do. But I also wanted to mention that you can download the score of this work. For free! It’s available for educational use. So head over to that video cause in the video description you’ll find the download link.
Alright, let’s start with this orchestral sketch.
The basic pattern – a bunch of 8th notes
A very simple basic pattern to start with. Just a bunch of 8th notes.
The measure is 3/4. One sharp on the staff, E minor in this case. But I could have picked any scale. Two parts in this sketch. Each part contains 4 bars. The 8th notes are in octaves. I play an E, E, F sharp and a B. And I repeat that in the second part. Finally I end, at this moment, on a B and an E.
That’s it. Anyone can play this on a piano. So you should be able to start your own orchestral sketch like this. Repeated 8th notes in octaves.
Let’s do a quick listening and continue with the next step which is about thickening.
Thickening – building up chords with a syncopated rhythm
Basically what I did in this step is creating chords out of the repeated 8th notes from step one. With a syncopated rhythm to make it more fun and enjoyable to listen to.
What are the chords?
Well, I start with E, B, E, G. That’s E minor. After that I have slightly changed it cause in the second bar I play E, C, E, G. That’s C major. Then I continue with F sharp, C, F sharp , A. That’s F sharp diminished if I’m correctly.
And I know I’m on dangerous territory here, cause my music theory knowledge isn’t that great. So please correct me in the comments on YT if I’m wrong about this one.
Then I continue with B, B, D, F sharp which is B minor. And I repeat the exact same pattern in the second part. Ending now on E, B, G which is again E minor.
That’s it. Let’s do a listening and continue with the next step which is about accents.
Accents – I think about violins I
I already get ideas about the orchestration when I see this sketch so far. I guess I cover mostly strings by now. Lovely!
Accents. These I always have experienced as common for this period drama genre. Those violin spiccato accents that cut through anything. And that’s exactly what I am trying to achieve here with this top line of piano notes.
Just playing on the whole notes of the measure. One, two and three. Going downwards, downwards, upwards to end downwards again. In the second part I go from downwards to downwards to upwards and then towards an ending.
Using notes which are part of the chords. So nothing really special and magical, but yet effective writing towards a sound that I’m looking for.
Let’s do a listening. Imagine the strings. We have laid out the basic background pattern.
Melody one – counterpoint, intervals and motion again!
Two notes against one. One note against two. Three notes against one. One note against one. Etc..
And when writing a melody like this with the intervals in mind which I have mentioned so many times in these orchestral sketches, you can get great results.
Again, think in thirds, sixths and tenths. Avoid parallel eights and fifths. Think about motion. Parallel, oblique or contrary motion. Play with that. Be aware of that. And you will make instant progress in writing melodies.
Alright, let’s do a listening an write another melody in the next step.
Melody two – I challenge you!
I guess I can repeat my self. Cause I did some counterpoint writing again in this step. Now I can go through it again, but you could probably do it yourself by now?
So I want to challenge you.
Freeze your screen and have a closer look at these two melodies. Analyse them in terms of how many notes against how many notes. Do you know which species of counterpoint I have used?
Analyse the two melodies in terms of intervals and motion. What intervals do you see? And which kind of motion did I use?
Doing this will give you a better understanding of writing music. It will definitely improve your skills as a composer. It certainly helped me a lot!
To finish this step, let’s do a final listening and continue with the orchestrated version.
Orchestration – which instruments fit this period drama genre the best?
The basic background pattern is covered by the strings. They all play staccato. The basses, cellos, violas and violins two.
The violins one play the spiccato accent. That typical sound that I relate to the period drama genre.
The first melody is for the oboe. That instrument cuts through anything and has that beautiful nasal sound that fits this period drama genre so well.
I could have given the second melody to another oboe, but I gave it to the solo trumpet instead. I think these two instruments sound amazing together.
For some extra decoration I added a flute, timpani and a triangle to this sketch. Of course, there are multiple possibilities to dress up this orchestral sketch more and more. But for now I was satisfied with the result.
And the misses in the house gave her approval. Another important moment.