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Orchestral Pieces

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What do I need to know to start composing orchestral pieces? I know a little bit about music theory (Just basic stuff like scales, chords etc.) I do play guitar (if that makes any difference) And what software would you recommend I use? I have Fruityloops (which is really fun but it doesnt very usefull when trying to compose orchestral stuff) I also have Sonic Foundry EDIT: What I meant to say was that I had Sound Forge by Sonic Foundry lol. (Maybe I WISH I owned Sonic Foundry) [edited by - Zao Martyr on October 12, 2003 5:05:34 PM]

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To compose some simple orchestral music you will need:

1. an understanding of several orchestral composers and their music

2. basic knowledge of orchestral instruments that include their range and function within orchestral music

3. basic knowledge of the various styles of orchestral music throughout time

4. an advanced understanding of music theory including counterpoint and harmony, as well as part-writing and orchestration

5. a lot of money to buy orchestral sample cds, a software synth such as Gigastudo, and a sequencer along the lines of Cakewalk, that is, unless you plan on using a real orchestra

Knowing how to play the guitar might give you a head start on knowing how to create harmony, but that really depends on what level you play at and if you have been training classically or not.

And yes, I know, it sounds like a lot of work, but unless you''re attempting to compose some very simple orchestral pieces using MIDI, you may want to get a few books on the subject as well as purchase some orchestral scores to study. Either way, I can still help you if you have any questions.

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quote:
Original post by Zao Martyr
What do I need to know to start composing orchestral pieces?

I know a little bit about music theory (Just basic stuff like scales, chords etc.)

I do play guitar (if that makes any difference)



And what software would you recommend I use?


I have Fruityloops (which is really fun but it doesnt very usefull when trying to compose orchestral stuff)

I also have Sonic Foundry


Sonic Foundry is the name of the company that made Acid, Soundforge, and a few other programs for Audio.

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For orchestral music, you should know these:

- All Major and minor scales
- At least level 1 harmony with an understanding of at least 5 of the most basic chord progressions
- An understanding of the instruments in an orchestra, such as their concert pitches and their ranges.
- Some level of counterpoint
- An understanding of some common musical styles (waltz, march, bolero, minuet, etc)

Sil mentions being familiar with famous composers, but I think that''s more of a bonus than a requirement. It will help you overall as a composer, but some people can "fake" it pretty well.

Hardware/software wise:
- a good sequencer such as Sonar
- a sample composer such as GigiaStudio or Fruity Loops
- a good midi controller keyboard
- lots of orchestral samples AND/OR hardware synth modules such as the Korg Triton Rack or the Proteus 2000

I''ll say a few things about FrutiyLoops. If you get really familiar with the system, you can make it work pretty well to your advantage. Its a lot more powerful than meets the eye. People that pick and dabble in it from time to time never truly harness the power it is capable of. If you really study it, you can make some great music within the program, granted you have good samples or synth mods attatched. Of course, if you are a newbie at it, you might as well take the time to learn GigaStudio first. Yet, if you''re already familair with FruityLoops, you can convert any Gigasamples to soundfont files (little to no loss involved) and use them in Fruityloops. I feel that the OPTIMAL solution is to have a seperate computer for Gigastudio and treat it like a musical instrument itself, plugging the audio outs into a track in your mixer. Thus, create melodies and harmonies in Gigastudio and rhythms in FruityLoops.

Hope that helps a bit =)



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get a music teacher for 2 months to teach you music theory. I could teach all that in 2 months, just so you know it''s possible. It depends what level of music you want to be writing, I mean most Status Quo music consists of 3 chords. Ricard Strauss uses everything he can think of. Once you''ve got the grasp of theory, you should take maybe 4 months of composition lessons ( formally - if you want to be good at it ) then you will be off to a good start. I would advise that you learn things traditionally before getting all digital. I mean, you''ve got to know what you are trying to write before you can write it! Good luck!

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A Note on learning things more traditionally: A scoring program such as Sibelius (http://www.sibelius.com/) will help you with this. These programs allow you to produce sheet music, and can play back your scores in midi format so you can hear what your doing. Other useful features include highlighting of notes out of the instruments normal range. I believe the latest version of Sibelius can also produce MP3 files. Another, cheaper, and still decent quality program of this type is Noteworthy Composer (http://www.noteworthysoftware.com/composer/).

The other advantage of this is that you can produce sheet music which can be played by a real orchestra if you are lucky enough to be able to, and have the inclination to gain access to one. Most towns have amatuer orchestras who will normally be happy to try out music for you.

As has been said above, you will need a good knowledge of chords, scales, and harmonies. I''d advise starting with simple chord progressions with a single simple melody, then investigate more advanced chords, rhythms, and techniques such as the use of counter-melody.

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Or you can just pull stuff out of your head. you have to be twisted though :D I a very small knowledge of classical music... I just compose what feels/sounds right. Here's a couple of clips from my current projects:

here's one

here's another

...both done with Fruityloops.

[edited by - markdeaton on October 19, 2003 1:04:09 PM]

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Zao: I think you need good literature at first. Once you have good harmony and counterpoint books, start from the beginning and try to play all the chord progressions and melodies with your guitar. That way you''ll memory the chord progression''s sound, which is very valuable, and also improve the guitar composing skill. As for the timing, it doesn''t matter if simple progressions or melodies will be played slower than the notation says but with the more advanced ones, you''ll have to be precise. Human perception of harmonies, melodies and rhytms works as a small time window that moves forward with the music. Once an important part of the chord progression gets outside the window, you won''t be able to "decode" it and get confused. This works in the opposite way (too fast) as well - you can make a connection between chords that should have been separated.

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