Composing Career Bootcamp

๐ŸŽน 4 Tips To Orchestrate Like A Pro

๐ŸŽน composition May 09, 2023

A few months ago on Instagram, I wrote this post:

The post outlined four essential principles for good orchestration. I realize that not everyone has Instagram (or knew I had an account), so here's those tips in written format!

(And if you are on Instagram, I've got lots more tips like this there ๐Ÿ‘€)


๐Ÿ’ก Tip 1: Exploit contrast

Use a variety of colors, densities, and ranges throughout your music to create contrast and excitement.

Avoid utilizing every instrument all the time, as this "tutti" sound quickly loses its power when overused in a piece of music. Remember that everything is about context: loud only sounds loud when there was quiet before it.

๐Ÿ’ก Tip 2: Smoothen transitions

Avoid modular, block-y sounding music by anticipating new musical textures before they occur.

This could mean introducing instruments before the downbeat of the phrase, or using effects like harp glissandi and cymbal/timpani rolls to create a musical "wash".

๐Ÿ’ก Tip 3: Punctuate with percussion

Percussion doesn't just have to groove--it can support and accentuate the musical ideas that already exist in your piece.

Use the full range of the percussion to support the parallel range of a given musical phrase (e.g. pairing celesta with flutes, snares with trumpets, or timpani with basses).

๐Ÿ’ก Tip 4: Declutter

Composing, arranging, and orchestration are difficult to do simultaneously.

As you move through each phase, be willing to delete ideas to leave room for the most important melodies, countermelodies, and rhythms in your music.

Carve away until you achieve maximum clarity for your listener.

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