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Model #: OrchPrac-PianoToStrings-PDF
Manufacturer: Alexander Publishing

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A Practical Handbook: From Piano to Strings - PDF

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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.

On the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Wagner’s magnum opus, Alexander Publishing released the newly revised Professional Orchestration: A Practical Handbook - From Piano To Strings, as the first of three Handbooks. Also available for separate purchase is the accompanying Workbook, and for the very first time - audio recordings of all the piano examples in the Workbook and the piano examples used in From Piano to Strings (the same piano examples will be used in the forthcoming Handbooks From Piano to Woodwinds, and From Piano to Orchestra when those volumes are released). Click here for the MIDI/Audio Examples Package, available for separate purchase. Click here for the separate PDF Workbook.

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 piano part and the string ensemble orchestration above it along with text explaining the background to the orchestration. Newly added text examines MIDI mockup issues. Newly created MIDI examples (included in the separately available MIDI/Audio Examples Package) contain both piano and string parts for you to import into your sequencing software.

Score Example: From Piano To Strings

From Piano to Strings score example

Included for additional study is Grieg's Holberg Suite for Piano and his separate orchestration for string ensemble. See how Grieg used these very techniques to create his remarkable score.

Techniques Covered

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

146 pgs.

Download Info:

  • Your download file(s) will be available for 30 days after purchase.
  • x1 .zip file containing your PDF book.
  • approx. 17MB size.

    A paperback edition of From Piano To Strings is available to order from Amazon or through most major bookstores using the information below:
    Title: Professional Orchestration: A Practical Handbook - From Piano to Strings
    Author: Joseph Wagner / ISBN: 978-0-939067-96-1


    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.

    Study Approach
    First, you study the examples by category in the From Piano to Strings Handbook, which are organized by specific scoring techniques. Each piano excerpt in the Handbook has been exported from Sibelius and recorded as an MP3 for you, which can be purchased separately from this link: A Practical Handbook MIDI/Audio Examples Package. If you have the MIDI/Audio Examples Package, listen to the piano example, 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 (available as a separate purchase from here: A Practical Handbook: Workbook PDF) which has piano excerpts organized by the techniques covered in the Handbook. If you have the separately available MIDI/Audio Examples Package, listen to the recorded MP3 example first, 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.

    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

    Video Demo

    In these four videos, watch Peter Alexander, author of the Professional Orchestration™ Series, demonstrate how to learn with From Piano to Strings.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Grieg Demo

    Included in From Piano to Strings is the piano work and string ensemble score to Grieg’s Holberg Suite demonstrating the techniques taught in the book.

    Grieg, Holberg Suite: The Piano Piece

    Grieg, Holberg Suite: The String Ensemble Arrangement