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Principles of Orchestration (Dover Books on Music) Paperback – 1 Feb 1965

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 489 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (1 Feb. 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486212661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486212661
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 17.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"To orchestrate is to create, and this cannot be taught," wrote Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, the great Russian composer whose genius for brilliant, highly colored orchestration is unsurpassed. But invention, in all art, is closely allied to technique, and technique can be taught. This book, therefore, which differs from most other texts on the subject because of its tremendous wealth of musical examples and its systematic arrangement of material according to each constituent of the orchestra, will undoubtedly be of value to any music student. It is a music classic, perhaps the only book on classical orchestration written by a major composer.
In it, the composer aims to provide the reader with the fundamental principles of modern orchestration from the standpoint of brilliance and imagination, and he devotes considerable space to the study of tonal resonance and orchestral combination. In his course, he demonstrates such things as how to produce a good-sounding chord of certain tone-quality, uniformly distributed; how to detach a melody from its harmonic setting; correct progression of parts; and other similar problems.
The first chapter is a general review of orchestral groups, with an instrument-by-instrument breakdown and material on such technical questions as fingering, range, emission of sound, etc. There follows two chapters on melody and harmony in strings, winds, brasses, and combined groups. Chapter IV, Composition of the Orchestra, covers different ways of orchestrating the same music; effects that can be achieved with full tutti; tutti in winds, tutti pizzicato, soli in the strings, etc.; chords; progressions; and so on. The last two chapters deal with opera and include discussion of solo and choral accompaniment, instruments on stage or in the wings, technical terms, soloists (range, register, vocalization, vowels, etc.), voices in combination, and choral singing.
Immediately following this text are some 330 pages of musical examples drawn from "Sheherazade," the "Antar Symphony," "Capriccio Espagnol," "Sadko," "Ivan the Terrible," "Le Coq d'Or," "Mlada," "The Tsar's Bride," and others of Rimsky-Korsakov's works. These excerpts are all referred to in the text itself, where they illustrate, far better than words, particular points of theory and actual musical practice. They are largely responsible for making this book the very special (and very useful) publication it is.
This single-volume edition also includes a brief preface by the editor and extracts from Rimsky-Korsakov's 1891 draft and final versions of his own preface, as well as an appendixed chart of single tutti chords in the composer's works.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The great Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a brilliant and original composer. But on top of that, he was considered by his peers to be possibly the greatest orchestrator, with a vast understanding of how to combine different instruments to achieve the desired effect. He also was a sought-after and admired teacher, who had honed and polished his teaching methods and lessons over the course of his lifetime. He worked on drafts during the 1890s, then returned to them again in the early 1900s for eventual publication as two volumes - the first being text, the second devoted to musical examples from the composer's own works. This book is an unabridged and slightly corrected republication of the 1922 edition (translated into English), with two volumes bound as one. It is as fantastically brilliant today as it ever was. It also is probably the only book on classical orchestration that has been written by a major composer.

Volume one comprises around 140 pages, and volume two around 330 pages. He devotes considerable space to the study of tonal resonance and orchestral combination. In his course he demonstrates such things as how to produce good-sounding chord of certain tone quality, uniformly distributed; how to detach a melody from its harmonic setting; correct progression of parts; and other similar problems.

The musical examples are all referred to in the text itself, where they illustrate particular points of theory and actual musical practice. These examples are drawn from "Sheherazade," the "Antar Symphony," "Capriccio Espagnol," "Sadko," "Ivan the Terrible," "Le Coq d'Or," "Mlada," "The Tsar's Bride," and other works by Rimsky-Korsakov. Their inclusion (and quality) is largely the reason why this publication is so very good and also useful. Other authors have tried to tell the same tale - but this was the master. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I think this book is absolutely fantastic! It makes you think about things that are obvious to the extent you ignore them, normally. It has charts on all the instruments, and on the charts he further develops by saying which part of the instrument is best for what type of tone. For example, with an Oboe, the lower part has a much more dark, rich and nasal sound, but the higher up you go it becomes more piercing. Although these seem like simple concepts, when put in context Rimsky Korsakov's book is incredibly well written. Do bare in mind not all of it is his own work, it is pieces of his own work, completed by a friend of his.

Nonetheless this is a brilliant book, a must have for anyone wanting to study a bit of orchestration!

PS. It's such an easy read, unlike some books that are just complexed English with one actual meaning! >.<
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Format: Paperback
I've just read through this book and looked at quite a few of the musical examples. I managed to get through three years of music college (composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London) and nearly forty years as a professional musician since without its benefit. It was still interesting although I don't think I learned anything particularly new.

A beginner at orchestration will definitely need something more modern as RK was writing about very different orchestras and instrumental techniques from those of today but perhaps its greatest value is in the wealth of orchestral examples in the second part which writers of some experience will be able to mine for ideas.
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poor edition. lots of errors.
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After reading this book, i rather enjoyed it.. Its really nice to have basic instruction with examples taken from Korsakov's own works.. Good book, though a bit old in the style of orchestration. A good one to learn the Old Style of this composer
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Answers the simple questions (always the hardest) Loads of examples, and a lucid description of his principles. Highly recommended for all interested in composing or arranging
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My son asked for this book for his GCSE music studies. He seems to find it helpful. It arrived on time in good condition.
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By A Customer on 27 July 1998
Format: Paperback
Although old, this book provides a great deal of information. Each section is brief and to the point.
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