Orchestral Technique: A Manual for Students Paperback – 15 May 1970
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It's shortcomings are that the information contained is available in any of the weightier texts on the subject (e.g. Adler) and, if the price tag of this book is correct (£28 + ?), these other texts are also available more cheaply! It's main asset is it's size. It will fit neatly in a jacket pocket or handbag and can be dipped into as an aide memoir more easily that the larger works. It can also be read cover to cover in one sitting but that is not it's purpose.
Recommendation is to try before you buy and note that it would be relatively easy for you to shop around for a better product for less wonga. I got mine in Oxfam for £1.99.
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This is rare for books on orchestration these days. About the most you get, usually, under this topic is a list of instrument ranges, spanning many chapters to fill up space. Then some chit-chat to encourage you to study hard and get experience, and/or a few morsels of by-the-way reminders for very advanced and very experienced composers. Even though this book could have been better, and it's a small, pretty short book, it's just too rare to get even this much practical stuff.
Is it just me, or does anyone else notice that books on technical skills of this sort seem to offer info that's either so elementary, you would have to already know it to be into the subject enough to buy a book on it, or else so advanced that in order to understand it you'd have to have enough experience to be way past buying books on the subject?
My question is: where is the INTERMEDIATE stuff??????? Is there no such thing as "intermediate" in the field of orchestration & arranging?
- I had the pleasure of conducting the world premiere of Jacob's Concerto for Double Bass, aka Little Concerto for Double Bass and Strings (composed 1972), with soloist Robert Meyer, for whom it was written for and dedicated to, with my orchestra in Sidney, British Columbia, on April 14, 2000. The concerto, written many years before in 1972, is a fine piece of music. It displays Jacob's tremendous skill as an orchestrator and his first rate idiomatic instrumental writing. That orchestral knowledge shines through in this short book - 104 pages, written in 1931 - which can serve as an introduction to the art of orchestration. And though it is brief, the book contains many especially pleasing concepts which any student of orchestration can use. Particularly charming is his description of the percussion section, "The best way of avoiding temptation (of using the rest of the kitchen, i.e., instruments of indefinite pitch) is to make a habit, unless writing for an abnormally large orchestra, of employing only two percussion players, one for the kettledrums exclusively, and the other for the rest of the percussion. This practice has the merit of cutting down expense as well as checking one's primitive barbaric instincts."
Stephen Brown, Music Theory Book Reviews. stephenbrown.ca
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