Around 1922, Maurice Ravel finished his astonishing orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at An Exhibition
. Sometime after that, someone talked the publisher of Ravel’s orchestration to add the piano part at the bottom of the score so students could see how Ravel went from piano to orchestra.
In 1928, Arthur Edward Heacox, building on this simple idea, created the pocket-sized Project Lessons in Orchestration which taught orchestration by showing students how to go from piano to orchestra.
About 31 years later, in 1959, came Joseph Wagner, conductor, founder of the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston, and teacher of orchestration at Boston University. Dr. Wagner took Project Lessons in Orchestration to the next step by re-organizing Heacox’s material and creating the Reference Chart of Keyboard Idioms which organized piano techniques by comparable orchestral devices.
With this approach Wagner put the piano part at the bottom of the score with his orchestration above it which, like Ravel’s score, enabled students to see how Wagner, using the same examples throughout the book, went from piano to strings, then piano to woodwinds, and finally, from piano to orchestra.
Now on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Wagner’s magnum opus, Alexander Publishing has releasing the newly revised Professional Orchestration: A Practical Handbook in the first of three books, workbook, and for the very first time - audio recordings of all the piano examples in the workbook and in From Piano to Strings, From Piano to Woodwinds, and From Piano to Orchestra.
From Piano to Strings is the first of the three volumes in the series.
In From Piano to Strings, you learn 13 broad techniques from the Reference Chart of Keyboard Idioms for turning piano parts into full scale string ensembles. Each example contains the original part and the string ensemble orchestration above it along with text explaining the background to the orchestration. Newly added text examines MIDI mockup issues. MP3 audio of the piano parts is included, and newly created MIDI examples contain both piano and string parts as shown below.
Included for additional study is Grieg's Holberg Suite for Piano and separate orchestration for string ensemble. See how Grieg used these very techniques to create his remarkable score.
The Workbook, which is used with all three volumes, follows the same exact approach. You're given dozens of examples, the majority of which have been recorded on piano and included as MP3s, so the Learner, regardless of piano skill, can hear the example and get the sound into their musical imagination.
The student then takes the example and scores it for the appropriate section, in this case, the String Section. Ideally, the student will record his or her work using either a sequencing program with a quality string library or a notation program that comes with a string library. By doing this, the student also gains the benefit of learning how to record and mix their work, along with building their MIDI mock-up skills.
The Professional Orchestration series
contains the techniques you need to know to effectively score your music. By comparison, Professional Orchestration: A Practical Handbook
is applied orchestration where you apply the techniques from the main series with real pieces of music, scoring them first for strings, then woodwinds, then full orchestra.
First, you study the examples by category in the main From Piano to Strings text, which are organized by specific scoring techniques. Each piano excerpt in the main book is recorded for you. Listen then study. You’re encouraged to record each book example on your own to better build your skills in MIDI editing and recording.
Second, go to the Workbook which has piano excerpts organized by the techniques covered in the main book. First, listen to the recorded MP3 example, then score the example by the specific technique taught.
Once you’ve scored your examples (for which there are often a dozen or more possible solutions), record them using either the orchestra package that comes with your notation program, or by doing a MIDI mockup using your sequencing program, which also builds your recording skills.
1. Broken Intervals
2. Broken Chords
3. Melodic Lines and Figurations
4. Implied Bass Parts
5. Single-Note, Interval, Chord Repetitions
6. Two- and Three-Part Music
7. Spacing Problems in the Middle Register
8. Contrast Problems Conditioned by Dynamics
9. Voice Leading
10. Obbligato or Added Secondary Parts Arranged From Harmonic Progressions
11. Antiphonal Effects
12. Tremolo Types
13. Dance Forms
How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite
To further enhance your studies, also available from Alexander Publishing is our own newly engraved score with piano part at the bottom of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite to show how Ravel went from piano to orchestra. This book also includes an analysis of each movement, essays, and the complete short story that each movement was based on.
Click here for How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite - Print Edition
Click here for How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite - Downloadable PDF Edition