Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Lesson - 70 : Harmony & Orchestration

As is learnt earlier, a 4-part harmony system gives a completeness of covering the ranges of notes and present it in a pleasant way.

Such musical pieces, even if we use the small number of instruments which are capable playing of those 4 different ranges, you get a fulfilled feeling !

Such a small group of instruments playing is what usually called as “Chamber Music”…meaning music played within a chamber…!

Depending upon the number of instruments used, they are called as Trio, Quartet, Quintet, etc.

If any Single instrument type is highlighted with a support of orchestra of other musical instruments such musical pieces are called “Concertos”

If we want, we can multiply the effects by adding a lot of instruments for each of S-A-T-B parts and present it in a grand way..!

Then it becomes an “Orchestral Music”.

Such orchestral instruments usually are classified into four main groups/departments.
1. Strings - basically sound produced by a string, bow arrangement, plucking with hands – eg Violin
2. Woodwinds – made of wood - sound by air/ wind blowing, but smooth sound – eg Flute
3. Brass – made of Brass - sound by wind blowing - but heavy sound - Trumpet
4. Percussion – For rhythm purpose – Kettle Drum, Cymbals, Timpani, Xylophone, Triangle, Tubular bells etc.

Under each category, to cover each of the range of SATB, we have different instruments.

But basically they belong to same group, and appearance wise as well as working principle wise you can see some similarity between these instruments, within the same group.

Some approximate grouping of these instruments under the first three categories are tabulated below.

Since each instrument has its own higher and lower range, there may be possibility of some overlapping in the adjacent ranges also. But it gives some rough idea :

Depending upon the effects required, these instruments are used in multiples, thus a large set of instruments occupying a big concert hall etc, necessitating to arrange them in groups in specified locations…

and finally…but more importantly, requiring some body to Control the big “Circus”….who is the so called ……. “Conductor”…!

Thus the same 4 line SATB musical piece can be played with 4 instruments in Chamber type or 40 to 60 instruments in Orchestral type…!

When the instruments grow more, you can feel the necessity of re-arranging the SATB passage to suit each of the instruments and effect needed as per the composition.

Basically to determine who plays which part and with what effect…..!

Such person who re-arrange the compositions is called “Arranger”.

Unless, you have :

the feeling of each instruments ....

and the effects it can generate w.r.t. smoothness or flatness, loud or soft, .....

their inter-relation with other instruments whether such usages will nullify the other or enhance them.. etc etc…

One cannot become a good composer or arranger…for the orchestral situations….!

So….. the music creation means.... melody line Composing….., then harmonizing to get SATB…….then arranging…then conducting….and finally in our modern times one additional job is recording…!

IR is the one who does everything himself…..In such a prolific manner….day in… day out….!

Now onwards, listen to each song of IR, with the above concept of musical departments and the corresponding instruments in mind and the SATB coverage they are doing etc…!

You have enough job to do for a few births in future…!

Open up your Ears and Mind…!

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