Author Topic: Orchestration question  (Read 3838 times)

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Offline KevinP

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Orchestration question
« on: August 07, 2007, 05:53:50 PM »
Textbooks always say don't double, say, a trumpet and a flute at the unison because you'd never hear the flute. Fair enough. But I've always been curious: what if you doubled one trumpet, unmuted and one flute but you raised the flute by one half-step? Both are marked ff. Under this the strings are doing a tonal (to the trumpet's tonality) accompaniment mf pizzicato figure.

Would the dissonance--notice I'm not saying 'flute'--be heard?

Offline Cato

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2007, 06:05:20 PM »
Yes, or at least most probably.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Larry Rinkel

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2007, 06:25:09 PM »
Textbooks always say don't double, say, a trumpet and a flute at the unison because you'd never hear the flute. Fair enough. But I've always been curious: what if you doubled one trumpet, unmuted and one flute but you raised the flute by one half-step? Both are marked ff. Under this the strings are doing a tonal (to the trumpet's tonality) accompaniment mf pizzicato figure.

Would the dissonance--notice I'm not saying 'flute'--be heard?


Can't say. My instinct is to raise the flute an octave.

Symphonien

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2007, 12:03:27 AM »
Most probably, but it depends on what notes this coupling is taking place. The flute will be much quieter if you are making it play down in its lower register.

johnQpublic

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2007, 03:30:18 AM »
At the unison, the flute will not be noticed. A half step apart will do little to help the flute be heard so long as the trumpet is unmuted. Get the flute up at least one octave.

karlhenning

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2007, 03:58:26 AM »
The trouble is that the bottommost octave of the flute's range is breathy and quiet, and will tend to get lost in the 'glare' of the stronger trumpet timbre, even playing quietly.  As you rise higher than that octave, the problem modifies slightly, as the trumpet requires more control to play quiet as the range ascends, more or less canceling any gain in strength in the flute tone.  The effect of the mute on the trumpet may not be quite as you expect from the term "mute."  Yes, the trumpet generally plays quieter, because there is an object in the bell impeding air-flow;  but the most important effect of the mute is not so much the reduction in volume, as an engaging alteration in the timbre of the trumpet: it's a little 'raspier', more intense . . . and that 'timbral interest' similarly works to the flute's disadvantage, as the 'simpler' sonic profile of the flute will tend yet more to be swallowed up by the trumpet.

I'm not saying it's impossible, and much depends on what the music is.  But here, at least, I hope that the problems one needs to surmount are fairly clearly set forth.

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2007, 04:49:42 AM »
Textbooks always say don't double, say, a trumpet and a flute at the unison because you'd never hear the flute. Fair enough. But I've always been curious: what if you doubled one trumpet, unmuted and one flute but you raised the flute by one half-step? Both are marked ff. Under this the strings are doing a tonal (to the trumpet's tonality) accompaniment mf pizzicato figure.

Would the dissonance--notice I'm not saying 'flute'--be heard?

Do I understand you to mean that you want the flute to create an apparent timbral distortion of the trumpet line, rather than a distinct part of its own? I think this would be more effective at a quiet dynamic, if it's effective at all. At fortissimo the flute is just going to be lost.

greg

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2007, 06:01:54 AM »
what'd be cool is having the flute play at fff and have the trumpet play at mp in unison so you can add a trumpet coloring to the flute.
i don't think it's done that often, but it seems like it'd be a nice-sounding color, possibly.

but if you really want to do a type of distortion to the trumpet, you'd have to make the trumpet ff or f and the flute fff to be heard.... and if you want to do a quality distortion, using one flute 1/4 tone higher and another 1/2 step higher might work even better

Offline KevinP

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2007, 02:10:38 PM »
Do I understand you to mean that you want the flute to create an apparent timbral distortion of the trumpet line, rather than a distinct part of its own? I think this would be more effective at a quiet dynamic, if it's effective at all. At fortissimo the flute is just going to be lost.

Well, I'm not going for any effect. My question is purely hypothetical/psychoacoustic: would it be heard?

Greg, in my experience, performer dynamics is a poor way of obtaining balance. I don't think you could really add trumpet colouring to a flute, even at those dynamics. The trumpet would still dominate to my ears.

greg

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2007, 10:21:35 AM »
here's trumpet playing in unison with flute, trumpet p while flute fff
i'm not sure what to think of it, any louder for the trumpet and it dominates, any quieter and you can't hear it....


Offline KevinP

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2007, 05:25:03 PM »
Sorry, but a midi can't work as evidence here.

greg

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2007, 06:00:13 AM »
Sorry, but a midi can't work as evidence here.
anyone who plays flute and trumpet?

johnQpublic

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2007, 07:03:31 AM »
I play both, Greg and have conducted amateur bands and orchestras throughout my career.

i stand by what I said.

greg

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Re: Orchestration question
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2007, 10:39:39 AM »
I play both, Greg and have conducted amateur bands and orchestras throughout my career.

i stand by what I said.
but all you need is a little magic  0:)