Music 251A:Seminar in Orchestration, Fall 2003



The course will concentrate on techniques of writing for chamber ensemble with a mixture of winds, strings, and percussion. It meets on Thursdays from 3:00 PM until 5:50. Each student will be working with a short score fragment of his/her own creation, which should be 40-50 measures in length. The score will form the basis of three assignments: winds (with optional keyboard or percussion), strings with a couple of winds or brass (same optional instruments), and a mixed chamber ensemble of the student's choosing. We will work on the assignments throughout the quarter, and they will be turned in the first part of exam week.

Each title heading for the week will have an accompanying profile with references to sections of the scores. The students should bring all the scores every week.

Scores for the course:

1. Dvorak, Antonin, Serenades Nos. 1&2, (Dover Publ., 2001).

2. Stravinsky, Igor, Pribaoutki, Renard, Etc., (Dover Publ., 2002).

3. Stravinsky, Histoire du Soldat, (Kalmus miniature score).

4. Schoenberg, Arnold, Verklarte Nacht and Pierrot Lunaire, (Dover Publ., 1994).

5. Wagner, Richard, Siegfried-Idyll, (Eulenberg).

6. Webern, Anton, Concerto Op. 24, (Philharmonia).

  • Sept. 25: Introduction.
    Addressing the needs of classical composers today: the reality of the small, mixed-bag ensemble.
  • Oct. 2: The musical foreground.
    Selections on the types found in the scores.
    Profile 1
  • Oct. 9: The nature of the accompaniment.
    The ways that the foreground is supported. Also, the use of sustained harmonic support and obbligato passages.
    Profile 2
  • Oct. 16: Musical complexes.
    Those areas where more than one element combines to form a balanced structure.
    Profile 3
  • Oct. 23: Tutti passages.
    How to get the most bang for the buck.
    Profile 4
  • Oct. 30: Tutti passages and their relationship to harmony and registral weight.
    Analyzing the activated texture: harmonic rhythm and musical motion (fast vs. slow music).
  • Nov. 6: Counterpoint and orchestration
    The gamut from pointillism to traditional counterpoint.
    Profile 5
  • Nov. 13: Percussion
    How to use percussion to support and shape the small ensemble.
    Profile 6
  • Nov. 20: Orchestral weight and structural development.
    A little about the developmental character of the pieces studied.
  • Nov. 27 : Thanksgiving (holiday).
  • Dec. 4: Old fashioned vs. new fashioned.
    Are we in the same business as Mozart?

    Updated, Nov. 12, 2003.