Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works

Posted by: TrueMusic

Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 10/29/12 03:05 AM

So I've recently been thinking about doing some piano reductions of orchestral scores/quartes etc. as a study to for learning to write for different instrumentations. I've also been considering orchestrating some piano works, again as a way to both improve my orchestration skills and to add some depth to the way I perform these pieces on a piano.

Has anyone here done these sorts of things? How useful was it?
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 10/29/12 03:19 AM

Hem...

Piano reduction is nowhere near as useful as orchestrating piano works.

Especially for quartets, it seems that it's relatively easy to divide the voices for piano omit perhaps one, or add some tremolo and there you are (<-extreme oversimplification, but still...).

When orchestrating piano works you are met with various problems.

It's an extremely useful excersize and I offer it to all my students. There used to be an excellent book by Rene Leibowitz Jan Maguire, but it's out of print now (except in Greek, if you want it! grin). It offered two volumes. The one was piano reductions of known (more or less) orchestral works, starting with Mozart or so and moving up towards Stravinsky. It offered some ideas on what to do and what orchestra was used. The 2nd volume had the complete orchestral score with comments on why the composer chose to do that orchestration.

As I said, extremely helpful, but if it's out of print...

The only thing you can do is check IMSLP for piano reductions and then try yourself with orchestrating and then checking the same part orchestrated (the original)...

Good luck!
Posted by: TrueMusic

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 10/29/12 03:34 AM

I would've never thought about taking a reduction and doing an orchestration of that and comparing, that actually sounds very useful! I'm in the middle of an orchestration class right now that is being taught BRILLIANTLY by a hollywood orchestrator, but as much as I'm learning I'm also learning just how much I don't know. Oh the wonderful never ending journey into studying music. Thanks for the advice Nikolas! Also, if you don't mind, I'd love to show you the piece I just finished up writing once I get the final edits and things done to parts and score to make it all right. I like the way it turned out so far. Piano trio with electric guitar and drum set added...makes for some fun textures.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 10/29/12 05:52 AM

By all means... If you want you could show it to the whole world of PianoWorld (so that other people can comment and provide feedback. There are a number of brilliant composers on board. Steve, Scott, etc...).

If not, either PM me here or email me at nikolas *AAAATTTT* musica-ferrum.com

(replace *AAAATTTT* with the appropriate ASCII character please! grin
Posted by: ScottM

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 11/05/12 11:05 AM

Nikolas is exactly right. Try orchestrating an old classic (like Mozart) from a piano score and then compare it to the original. This is an old technique, and one I'm not sure I've ever done, but it's been recommended by many composers over generations. It's a start.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 11/05/12 10:51 PM

Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
I would've never thought about taking a reduction and doing an orchestration of that and comparing, that actually sounds very useful!

It sounds like you are already taking a class given by an expert, and what could be better?

Once the class ends, the need for returning for reference may continue. I will offer that there are two "bibles" on the subject of orchestration, that have served thousands of us over the years:

PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (translated of course, unless you know Russian), and
THE STUDY OF ORCHESTRATION by Samuel Adler

There are also texts that are specific to the jazz genre (big band), including works by Ray Wright and Adolph Sandole.

Ed
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 11/06/12 12:46 AM

LoPresti: While I agree that the two books you mention are very highly regarded, I would argue that the Korsakov one is rather outdated by now... :-/ Just a word of caution!
Posted by: LoPresti

Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 11/06/12 01:14 AM

Nikolas,

That all depends on whether you are trying to orchestrate Scheherazade!

You make an excellent point, Nikolas. The learnings found in the Rimsky-Korsakov text, particularly the COMBINATION of timbre, were most pertinent for the large, lush, romantic orchestras of the mid-to-late 1800s. So, while an English horn still sounded like an English horn, the way its sound was combined with the colors of other instruments was characteristically different then, than now.

The Adler text, completed in 1982, along with his examples, is far more reflective of the orchestral colors of the twentieth century - the "tight", highly technical ensembles.

Of course, that is not to imply that the orchestration techniques of the Romantic era do not work well today. One of the most prolific, and arguably THE most successful composer for the modern Italian cinema, Ennio Morricone, could have co-authored the Rimsky-Korsakov volume, so similar are their uses of voicings.

Ed
Posted by: TrueMusic

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 11/06/12 01:34 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
I would've never thought about taking a reduction and doing an orchestration of that and comparing, that actually sounds very useful!

It sounds like you are already taking a class given by an expert, and what could be better?

Once the class ends, the need for returning for reference may continue. I will offer that there are two "bibles" on the subject of orchestration, that have served thousands of us over the years:

PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (translated of course, unless you know Russian), and
THE STUDY OF ORCHESTRATION by Samuel Adler

There are also texts that are specific to the jazz genre (big band), including works by Ray Wright and Adolph Sandole.

Ed


My class is indeed wonderful. I just recognize how much more work I need to do to really "get" the subject! Over winter break I'll probably pick out some work for piano [I assume you're meaning take a piano reduction and orchestrate that, correct?] and orchestrate it then compare with the original orchestration. That would be great practice. Working with ensemble's much larger than 6 starts to intimidate me, so starting with something already written, rather than my own composition, would be great. My final for my current class is arranging a Bach Chorale Prelude [I picked BWV 744] for concert band, so I'll get some practice in even before winter break!

Also, we have the Adler for the class already. It's SUCH a wonderful resource. He's taught us some out of the Korsakov, although it's not our primary text. Really, he only had us buy the Adler for reference after the class, he rarely assigns reading or teaches straight out of it. Instead we analyze scored and talk about what the composers did.
Posted by: Ordo

Re: Reductions/Orchestrations of composers works - 12/01/12 11:16 AM

A classic piece for this exercise is Pictures at an exibition (Mussorgsky). You have several orchestrations availabe from great composers, to compare.