PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRATION

Professional Orchestration
Volume 1: Solo Instruments and Instrumentation Notes

The best orchestration book since Forsyth.
Jerry Goldsmith, Academy Award Winning Composer

Professional Orchestration offers more opportunities to see and hear the combinations which formerly could only be imagined.
Bruce Broughton, Emmy Award Winning Composer

Every time I open this book I learn something new.
Paul Thomson, Synesthesia (UK)

Professional Orchestration
Volume 2A – Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section

I would highly recommend this book to any student or working professional wishing to learn or expand their knowledge of orchestration. If you intend to work professionally the skills imparted by the studies presented here will be of enormous benefit and will give you a professional advantage for your entire career.
Garry Schyman, G.A.N.G. Award Winning Composer, BioShock

With Professional Orchestration 2A, Peter Alexander has done a very good job of making the various doublings and unisons within the strings section clear, so that you can readily understand what’s going on, even in some of the more complex examples presented. I was particularly pleased to see a starting basic section on divisi with enough information to get the reader thinking and listening, without delving too much into the finer points.

I think that the choice of musical examples is excellent, and no composer who wishes to write orchestral music should neglect to know the scores for these pieces.

This book will be extremely useful, especially to sample based composers, either striving for improved realism with their orchestrations, or who wish to transfer their MIDI compositions to a live ensemble, so I have no hesitation in recommending it.

Daryl Griffith
Conductor, Composer
Orchestrator, Young Visiters (BAFTA winner), Prime Suspect (BAFTA winner), Harry Potter VI.

A great publication! You perfectly met the needs of so many musicians – it’s an incredibly valuable source of knowledge! I like also very much its clear structure and the way you explain complex things. A “must” not only for students, but for every musician dealing with samples and “orchestral sound”.
Peter Siedlaczek, Advanced Orchestra, Classical Choirs, String Essentials 2

The new book is amazing! It builds on the first book by adding more explanations, MIDI programming advice and film scoring concerns. I can’t imagine a more exhaustive study or more organized collection of string writing. You can pre-charge my card for books 2B through 8!
Jeff Laity, Marketing Manager, TASCAM

As a music educator and practicing composer, nothing is more important to the quality of a composition than the art of orchestration. The subtle combination of instrumental timbres has the ability to make or break a score. A properly orchestrated piece can evoke emotion and take the listener to another place. It has the ability to transcend to a new plain; where beauty, love, agony and joy all co-exist in perfect harmony.

For me, orchestration has always been one of my strong points, cultivated over many years of score study and professional application. There is nothing quite like the feeling one gets when standing in front of an orchestra, listening to a hundred musicians bring your hard work and labor to life. It truly is a life changing experience.

Peter Alexander’s book, Professional Orchestration 2A: Orchestrating the Melody within the String Section is a unique approach to the subject of orchestration.

It focuses on groupings within the strings, instead of the traditional “This instrument sounds good with that one” approach. It gives the reader the ability to understand how to accomplish the big, lush sounds of master composers such as Strauss, Mahler and Moussorgsky, without the need to scour countless scores and recordings. The many full page orchestral excerpts and MP3 examples perfectly depict the technique that is being described by the text itself.

Another aspect of the book that I thought was unique and extremely useful was the incorporation of the “electronic orchestra”. The diminished availability of professional orchestras and the proliferation of affordable computers and software have lead to the rise of the MIDI orchestra. Software such as Garritan’s Personal Orchestra, Quantum Leap’s Symphonic Orchestra and Mark of the Unicorn’s Symphonic Instrument have opened up new and exciting possibilities for the professional and the hobbyist alike. The book’s included scores and MIDI mock-up techniques give the orchestrator a chance to obtain true orchestral sound and color through practical exercises and real world applications. This feature alone should make this book a must have for all musicians.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the text and attempting the MIDI mock-ups. This book mirrors my own approach to MIDI orchestration and I find it a very useful tool. I will recommend this book to anyone who is serious about their musical education and who wants to achieve the highest standards from their compositions and orchestrations as possible. I can’t wait to see the next volume.

Jonathon Cox
Composer: Death4told, Broken Oath
Lecturer of Music at Ohio Northern University and Muskingum College

From the outset, the art and practice of instrumentation and orchestration is best understood by hearing and studying the literature: It’s all there, in the music. Peter Alexander’s Professional Orchestration, Volume 2A, embodies this tradition beautifully, and serves as an indispensable reference tool for anyone wanting to better grasp the art of string-orchestra writing.

At first blush, a 600-page text focused exclusively on a catalog of techniques for string writing seems like overkill: one can imagine pages of descriptive prose, far more than students could work through in a typical college-level class on orchestration. But this text is primarily music, and (after a modest but effective sales-pitch to get students on board) every ounce of text is used to frame each example and lead students into its technical heart. The author’s observation about the use of MIDI mock-ups and the importance of live sound provide an excellent frame in which to develop technical facility with ears, sequencers, and sample libraries. Through the process of hearing the music, studying the score, making electronic mock-ups, and seeking out live performances, students are drawn into a well-organized and focused pursuit of the practical business of using orchestral strings effectively and expressively.

I can imagine some instructors wishing for more “lecture” in the text itself, but I will dare to say such an approach entirely misses the point: in Professional Orchestration, the student is invited directly and immediately into the process of exploring and absorbing the art of orchestration. The classroom “lecture,” or mentorship (as it ideally should be), can then build on students’ technical engagement with individually-tailored insights and reflections. And this is essential: the teacher, not the textbook, is the best mentor; and music, more than words, provides the best explanation. By putting musical experience front and center, Professional Orchestration provides an ideal platform for such teaching and learning.

–Dr. Andrew Mark Sauerwein
Composer-in-residence and Assistant Professor of Theory/Composition, Belhaven College

HOW RAVEL ORCHESTRATED: MOTHER GOOSE SUITE
All I can say is fantastic! My students, and I were completely enthralled by the analysis you provided, as well as the score with the included piano part. Two of the students are jazz majors and were very excited about how Ravel was approaching harmonization from a chord/scale jazz harmony perspective. They really started to make a connection with Ravel’s approach and what they have been learning in arranging class for big band; especially the jazz harmonization and line writing aspect of the score.

The piano part at the bottom of the score is a great teaching tool for orchestration students. All of my students stated that they would like to see more scores presented in this format. They all felt that they were gaining a better understanding on how Ravel approached orchestrating this movement because of the piano part that was included in the score.

The next time I teach my orchestration class, this will be required reading for all of my students, it is that good. I love the new approach.

Dr. Rik Pfenninger
Plymouth State University

WRITING FOR STRINGS 4th Edition
Writing for Strings, 4th edition, offers a comprehensive resource to the orchestration student, rich with detailed string techniques, QuickTime examples, some of the best scores from the classical repertoire and the opportunity to hear a recording of the examples played in context by a real orchestra. A must have!
Patrick de Caumette
www.decamusic.com