Music, Composition and Theory

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Classical Music Orchestration

If you want to write an orchestral composition, you can start with a sketch, perhaps nothing more than a melody. Or you can take an existing composition and arrange if for symphony orchestra. Both methods are being used, but starting out with a sketch is more difficult, because you will have to write parts straight into the orchestral score. Van Beethoven could do it, but I wouldn't advise it to a inexperienced composer.

Even if you use a finished composition, you need to understand the harmony. Preferable classical harmony (with the Roman Numerals). That way you'll be able to extend the parts, maybe even write some melodic lines. But if you only know chords, a good understanding of keys will help. Otherwise you'd better study some music theory first.

In this section you'll find some examples of orchestrations. You can download the mp3, the orchestral score and the original score or sketch for comparison. It's free.

The original of 'Sad Old Witch' is a composition for piano. In the download you'll find an mp3 and a score of the piano version as well. Have a look at the beginning. How do you orchestrate an Arpeggio?

Sad Old Witch (mp3). Download (zip) score and higher quality mp3.

The next composition is also based on a piano piece, but now I took the liberty to add several melodic lines. Compare the two scores and you will notice the difference.

Spring Forest (mp3). Download (zip) score and higher quality mp3.

to be continued...