Orchestration (or instrumentation) is a large and unwieldy topic that not all music theory textbooks cover. Here, in a few short chapters, we provide a very quick introduction to some useful principles for creating orchestral scores. Students can refer to other sources for basics such as multilingual terms and instrumental ranges.
The three chapters focus on:
- Core principles of orchestration, organized into matters of succession (what follows what) and simultaneity (what goes together at the same time).
- Subtle color changes, taking a closer look at some more detailed aspects of those core principles.
- Transcription from piano, beginning with a discussion of how to adapt piano music for orchestra in principle, and then turning to four case studies.
Throughout this section, we will also address:
- Skills and techniques associated with writing effective and idiomatic music for orchestra.
- Enhanced familiarity with and understanding of the orchestral repertoire.
- Repertoire from the 18th century to the present day, with a focus on late 19th- and early 20th-century repertoire, and primarily on tonal music.
Each chapter features many examples of repertoire to explore. Images will be included to illustrate short, summative ideas; for longer works, there will be links to the relevant page on IMSLP.org. All works receive a full title except symphonies which are often abbreviated by symphony number (Arabic numeral) and movement number (lowercase Roman numeral): e.g. Beethoven 4/iv.