Full Orchestral Arrangement Project

Around two weeks ago, my music teacher suggested that we start and try to write full orchestral arrangements since I had just gotten the BBC Symphony Orchestra samples. We started laying down the foundation of the project and got a few ideas down. As of now, I think it’s coming along pretty well, but I wouldn’t say that we’ll finish anytime soon. Regardless, this week I’ll be sharing my experience so far with full orchestration.

I’ve actually tried doing something similar for a school project, but I was using some pretty bad samples and I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. However, this time I was able to get some help on the things I should focus on and where to start. Before we actually created the project file we worked out a template with all the instruments that we might use for the project as well as any other projects we’d make in the future. This helped to organize different groups of instruments and figure out what the purpose of each instrument is within the orchestra.

After creating our project from the template we made my music teacher gave me a short piano bit to start with. It was only a few bars long and had an up beat sort of action feel, so that was the theme we were going for. My music teacher sent me an example that he’d written a few months ago so I could get an idea of how each instrument can be used before we got started.

For our composition, we decided to start with mostly strings and some light percussion and slowly build up the rest of the piece by adding more instruments. We started with the cellos and double basses playing short eighth note octaves of the chord progression for a pulsing sort of rhythm with violas playing an ostinato that mostly followed the chords as well. Instead of incorporating the violins from the beginning, we decided to save them in order to play our melody in harmony.

The next thing that we started working on was the percussion. Instead of building up our percussion as we went, it was easier to just write out all the percussion that we would want for the climax of the piece. Then, we just took out most of the elements and slowly added them in. This made things easier for me since I was able to listen to all of the different percussive instruments working together.

After working out the percussion we decided that we should have some of the brass section come in before the melody started. Since we mostly had some rhythmic action going on, we used the trombones and tubas to accentuate some of the notes that the strings were already playing. The trumpets and horns were a bit too blaring to write into the start, so we haven’t used them just yet.

Overall, that’s what we have written down for now, but we’re definitely working on incorporating more of the orchestra because we still haven’t even touched the woodwinds yet. The addition of horns later on should also change up the feel of the piece significantly. Right now, we’re just working on incorporating the melody into what we already have using the violins, and there’s still more to come after that.

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