I’ve been going through Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. There are too many good lessons not to share.

I’m starting off with the combination of Violins and Flutes in ppp.

The Dynamic Equivalents guideline is that at p one department of strings absorbs one (1) flute. Is this true? Yes, and it holds true for the dynamic going down to ppp. you can hear it in the opening movement called Dawn.

The violins are in the very high position. The string combination is Violins 1 + Violins 2. They’re doubled with Flute 1 and Flute 2. So in orchestral math, it looks like this:

Violins 1 + Flute 1 + Violins 2 + Flute 2

Since this is a full string section with at least 12 violins per section, for the most part, you don’t always hear the flutes doubled with the violins as much as you sense them. Notice how the flutes “fill in” the violins in this upper register. In certain places the flutes do slightly predominate but without overpowering the violins.

Watch and listen to hear/sense the power of a single flute with one violin section at this dynamic level.

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