A new orchestral sketch to start the new year with. a melancholic and sad one. I had it planned for the last week of 2020, but a Covid_19 infection changed everything. Gladly the misses and I only suffered mild symptoms and the kids had none. So we’re fine. And ready to go in 2021.
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Timestamps of the video
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 01:03 – First listening (piano and orchestrated version)
- 02:10 – Melody 1 (a simple melody line on the piano)
- 03:56 – Harmony with arpeggiated chords
- 05:23 – Melody 2 (counterpoint)
- 06:50 – The orchestration (which instruments to choose)
- 08:29 – Ending
I’m going to start simple. With a lovely orchestral sketch which perfectly suits melancholic sounding compositions. And let’s get right into it. Do a first listening at the melody line I started with on the piano. And then listen to the orchestrated version.
Lovely isn’t it. Kinda sad, melancholic feeling. Typical minor scale. Not that many orchestral instruments are in it. A perfect example that you can achieve wonderful things with a few orchestral colors.
Melody 1 – a simple melancholic melody on the piano
What do we see here at first sight? Well, there is one sharp on the staff. That means I wrote this sketch in E minor. So the E is the tonic. Not unintentionally I started on the E. Printing it in right away.
The melody exists of two parts. Let’s call them A1 and A2. A closer look makes it clear that these two parts look very similar. Indeed, I only changed the notes. Making it sound different, but yet familiar again. Your brain immediately recognizes the pattern. And that gives comfort.
I’m not sure how you experience this melody line, but it feels like an open end. I did this on purpose. It doesn’t resolve. It actually has two questions in it. One on the fourth, the A. And another question at the end at the second, the F sharp.
So if this was a part in a composition, I would suggest to write another phrase and resolve it ending on the tonic, the E.
Arpeggiated chords – the harmony if you will
Melodies feel and sound good when they are backend with chords. The harmony if you will. So what have I done in this step?
I’ve added supporting chords at the beat of each measure. Full notes and arpeggiated. Starting with an Em7 chord. Again, printing in the sound of the scale. Followed by a Bm7, Am7 and an Am6 on a C.
In the second part I go from a C, to a CM7 to a D7.
Is this the most fantastic chord progression. Probably not. But that’s not the point here. I’m not after writing the most amazing chord progression, I’m after a chord progression that works for me. And this one does, cause it supports the melody.
Alright, let’s do a quick listening and continue with the next step which is about counterpoint melody.
Melody 2 – counterpoint writing
I wanted a second melody to accompany the first one. Giving it a more gentle push and pull feeling. Just like two people in a conversation.
I used the same principles of counterpoint as before. One species and two species counterpoint. To say it simple, one note for one note. Or two notes for one note.
Yes, with an eye again on the intervals and motion. If this is your first orchestral sketch you stumbled upon, I would suggest to watch sketch number 12 or others in which I tell more about the use of intervals and motion.
Last, this melody line can also be seen as A1 and A2. It has a similar pattern. Two halve notes mirrored. Similar motion, but with a derivation. Same ending. Quite simple if you break it down like this.
Let’s do a listening and continue with the orchestration.
Orchestration – which instruments for a melancholic sound?
The arpeggiated chords are of course for the harp. But could have been given to the piano also.
The strings also support the harmony. Violin I, viola, violoncello and double bass play the harmony in the background. I added some modulation to let them swell up and down a bit. Like a breathing being.
The first melody is for one of my favorite orchestral instruments. The oboe. That typical nasal sound, I can’t get enough of it. I really love it! Definitely in melancholic and sad compositions.
A good instrument to use with an oboe is the French horn. In this sketch a solo horn in F plays the countermelody. It is not dominantly present, the oboe has the main role. But now and then the horn stings through and you will notice its typical warm sound immediately.
That’s it. If you support me on Patreon you can download the sheet music and MIDI file of this orchestral sketch and all the others I did before.