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This is really vague. What instruments should you emphasize? It depends on the song. What should the structure be? It depends on the song. What instruments do you need? It depends on the song.

You should listen to more music and try to emulate it what you hear; think about what role each instrument plays in the overall soundscape. Percussion, bass, mid-range, upper-range. That's how you achieve fullness of sound. There is no such thing as "orchestration tips" that will answer the questions you're asking.

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I need Orchestration tips.

Such as:

What instruments should I emphasize more on

What the structure should be

Or just simply what instruments I NEED.

As DarkeSword stated, this is extremely vague. There's so much flexibility in orchestration that one has to start with the basics and expand from there. Orchestration isn't always tied to a orchestra. One can orchestrate for big band, concert band, it's practically endless.

If your intent is a symphonic orchestra, there are countless symphonic works that will give you an idea in terms of sound. I also recommend finding books about orchestration, specifically in terms of score studying since you mentioned about instruments and structure. If you've never done this before, be prepared to do a lot of listening and practicing.

For starters, I recommend Johann Sebastian Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and anyone else from the Baroque period, then work from there. If you can get to a music library, the librarians there can probably give you more recommendations.

Also, this site might be useful.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Also if you take a college class any time soon it will probably use this text.
He isn't, trust me ;)

Adler is great (that's what I read in college), but the best way to learn is simply listen to how other composers used the instruments together. The real trick with orchestration is learning:

a.) What instruments make what sound (Timbre)

b.) What combinations sound good to you

c.) How to balance the sound of smaller and larger ensembles

Listen to what other composers do to achieve the effects they want and experiment on your own - that's the best way to learn (Of course, an orchestration book helps, too :-P).

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In the context of the kind of stuff done here, take a midi project (especially a classical midi or something from the Internet) and change the orchestration, like take a flute track and make it a trumpet, or change viola to french horn. Always illuminating. Reading about orchestration is a start, but hearing orchestration I think is lightspeed learning.

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As the Adler and the Rimsky-Korsakov have been mentioned, another book suggestion is the Walter Piston. If your looking for other genre to learn orchestration for I don't have any ideas. Overall avoid writing parts that are out of the range of the instrument. Its much easier to play higher out of range then lower underneath. and it sounds better.

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In the context of the kind of stuff done here, take a midi project (especially a classical midi or something from the Internet) and change the orchestration...

Orchestrating a midi isn't orchestration. You need to know the limits of the instruments and why they are limited in such a fashion - with midi you don't have any limitations, so you lose some central elements to orchestration (it's funny looking at a score from midi compositions - believe me, most of them show a complete lack of understanding the limitations of instruments).

If you study orchestration with MIDIs, you won't know how orchestration works with anything but a MIDI.

For the sake of the sound, I agree with this. If your in your school band or orchestra, one of the best things you can do is talk with your classmates about how they play their instrument, what's hard for them and what's not, etc., and listen to what every instrument is doing in the music you play (if your not in band or orchestra, then shame on you :tomatoface:). That'll help more than anything.

...and don't forget to listen to other classics thoroughly - that's 'instrumental' to your success (sorry, bad pun :P).

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I too can second this. I have the book + the 6 CDs in posession. It has very clear examples of why composers chose certain instruments to play a melody. It also gives examples of how it would've sound if the composer would've chosen different instruments.

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I wasn't suggesting that techique was better than actual active listening, or actual scoring with real performers. Although, Gario is 100% right that you won't learn limits, you definitely need a book or reference for that.

I just meant within the context of the things done here, or perhaps better said, within the context of your own equipment, software, and samples available, it's a much better technique than just guessing. And the downfall of strictly following traditional scoring practices like in the Rimsky-Korsakov book (which is excellent I also recommend), is those practices can't account for your samples. i.e. Sometimes a new age pad that sounds like a flute is a better "flute" in your mix than an actual flute sample.

Also, if you have realistic enough samples, sometimes you can play with types of blends and voicings in a simulated environment that isn't possible (in a practical sense) in the real world. Not everyone can take their compositions to a real orchestra, and how many CD's can teach you what an overdrive electric guitar, harpsichord, wagner tuba, and penny whistle all sound like mixed together? No they aren't as good as the real thing, but you can still learn, and it's faster than just trial and error.

Outside that context, yes, you guys are right. Anecdotally dPaladin, in my own unique situation, while I already played in an orchestra and could re-play the sounds of instruments in my head, my first experiences with actual orchestration were with midi before I read the books referenced here. I did it backwards just fine since I could imagine what the instructions I heard really sounded like irl. Definitely stupid to suggest everyone normally try it, especially if your goal is to reproduce things that have already been done, but it works for me. I like coming up with slightly or completely irregular orchestrations you'll never find in any book.

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