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Professional Orchestration Vol 2: Compleat PDF

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In Professional Orchestration Volume 1: Solo Instruments and Instrumentation Notes, the focus was on instrumentation, registration of instruments and how they sound in four specific registers, and learning how to do score reductions through the Professional Mentor Workbook (available separately, or in one of the Home Study Bundles for Vol. 1).

With Volume 2 Compleat: Orchestrating the Melody Within Each Orchestral Section, we move from instrumentation into the actual study of orchestration by learning specific combinations of instruments within the strings, woodwind, and brass sections previously known by only a privileged few. Volume 2 Compleat is supported by eClassical audio packages (available for separate purchase).

Volume 2 Compleat is over 1,200 pages formatted in 8.25" x 11" size, with full page/full score examples which, like Volume 1, is organized by registers so you can see and hear where composers tend to write each device and combination.

Volume 2A, Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section gives you the time tested writing techniques for strings. For fast referencing, the techniques are grouped into eight categories: Unisons, Two-Parts, Three-Parts, Four-Parts, Five-Parts, Divisi in Octaves, Divisi in Intervals, and Special Combinations. Almost 600-pages. A PDF Syllabus is included as a guide to studying the book.

Volume 2B, Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds and Brass gives you the tested techniques for woodwinds and brass. For fast referencing, the techniques are grouped into these categories: Woodwind Unisons, Woodwind Octaves, Woodwind Combinations in Two- to Five-Parts, Light Vertical Harmony in the Woodwinds, then combinations for the French horns, Trumpets and Trombones. Almost 700-pages. A PDF Syllabus is included as a guide to studying the book.

Important Note: to get the most out of Professional Orchestration, you need to read music. If you learn mostly by ear, please see our Visual Orchestration series of courses, based on the Spectrotone Chart, where no textbook is required.

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  • SAMPLE PAGES (Click to open in a new window)
    Professional Orchestration Vol 2A: Introduction & Chapter 1
    Professional Orchestration Vol 2A: Review by BioShock Game Composer - Garry Schyman
    Professional Orchestration Vol 2B: Introduction

    A paperback edition of these titles is available to order from Amazon or through most major bookstores using the information below:

    Title 01: Professional Orchestration Vol 2A: Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section
    Author: Peter Lawrence Alexander / ISBN: 978-0-939067-06-0

    Title 02: Professional Orchestration Vol 2B: Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds & Brass
    Author: Peter Lawrence Alexander / ISBN: 978-0-939067-93-0

    Table of Contents Volume 2A

    Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section

    Chapter 1 - Violins 1 + Violins 2
    Chapter 2 - Violins + Violas
    Chapter 3 - Violins + Cellos
    Chapter 4 - Violas + Cellos
    Chapter 5 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas
    Chapter 6 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Cellos
    Chapter 7 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas + Cellos

    Chapter 8 - Violins 1 - Violins 2
    Chapter 9 - Violins 1 (or 2) - Violas
    Chapter 10 - Violins - Cellos
    Chapter 11 - Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 12 - Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 13 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Violas
    Chapter 14 - Violins 1 + ½ Violins 2 - ½ Violins 2 + Violas
    Chapter 15 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 + Violas
    Chapter 16 - Violas + Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 17 - Violas - Cellos + Basses
    Chapter 18 - Violins - Violas + Cellos
    Chapter 19 - Violins - Violins 2 + Cellos
    Chapter 20 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 21 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas - Cellos + Basses
    Chapter 22 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Violas + Cellos
    Chapter 23 - Violins 1 + ½ Violins 2 - ½ Violins 2 + Cellos
    Chapter 24 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas + Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 25 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Cellos

    Chapter 26 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 27 - Violins 1 + Violas - Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 28 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 + Violas - Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 29 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 - Violas
    Chapter 30 - Violins - Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 31 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 - Violas + Cellos
    Chapter 32 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 + Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 33 - Violas - Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 34 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Violas + Cellos - Basses
    Chapter 35 - Violins 1 + ½ Violins 2 - ½ Violins 2 + ½ Violas - ½ Violas + Cellos
    Chapter 36 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 - Violas + ½ Cellos
    Chapter 37 - Violins 1 + Violins 2 - Cellos - Basses

    Chapter 38 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 - Violas - Cellos
    Chapter 39 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 + Violas - Cellos - Basses

    Chapter 40 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 - Violas - Cellos - Basses

    Chapter 41 - About Divisi
    Chapter 42 - Violins 1 - Violins 1
    Chapter 43 - Violas - Violas
    Chapter 44 - Cellos - Cellos
    Chapter 45 - Basses - Basses

    Chapter 46 - Violins 1 - Violins 2 playing 3rds
    Chapter 47 - Violins Divisi in 3rds
    Chapter 48 - Violas Divisi in 3rds
    Chapter 49 - Violins Divisi in 6ths
    Chapter 50 - Violas Divisi in 6ths

    Chapter 51 - Special Combinations of Octaves, Thirds, Sixths and Tenths
    Chapter 52 - Violas Divisi + Cellos Divisi in 6ths
    Chapter 53 - Violins in 3rds - Violas/Cellos (3rds)
    Chapter 54 - Violins 1 in 3rds - Violins 2 in 3rds
    Chapter 55 - Violins 1 and Violas in Octaves with Violins 2 Playing Inner harmony part in 3rds
    Chapter 56 - Violas and Cellos Doubling on 3rds
    Chapter 57 - Multiple 3rds and Sixths
    Chapter 58 - More Multiple 3rds and Sixths
    Chapter 59 - Vlns 1 + Vlns 2 (3rds) - Violas A + Violas B (3rds)
    Chapter 60 - Thirds in Three Octaves
    Chapter 61 - Violins and Violas in Sixths
    Chapter 62 - Vlns 1 div in 3rds - Violins 2 (top line) + Violas (bottom line)
    Chapter 63 - Tenths
    Chapter 64 - Violins 2 and Violas in 3rds - Cellos div
    Chapter 65 - Violins 2 in 3rds - Cellos in 3rds

    Table of Contents Volume 2B

    Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds and Brass


    Chapter 1 - The Woodwind Family
    Chapter 2 - Woodwind Section Sizes

    Section 1 - Woodwind Unisons
    Chapter 3 - Flute Unisons
    Chapter 4 - Flute + Oboe
    Chapter 5 - Flute + English Horn
    Chapter 6 - Flute + Clarinet
    Chapter 7 - Oboe Unisons
    Chapter 8 - Oboe + Clarinet
    Chapter 9 - English Horn + Clarinet
    Chapter 10 - English Horn + Bassoon
    Chapter 11 - Clarinet + Clarinet
    Chapter 12 - Clarinet + Bassoon
    Chapter 13 - Bassoon + Bassoon
    Chapter 14 - Bassoon + Sarrusaphone
    Chapter 15 - Bassoon + Contrabassoon
    Chapter 16 - Flute + Oboe + Clarinet
    Chapter 17 - Flute + English Horn + Oboe + Clarinet
    Chapter 18 - Flute + Oboe + Clarinet + Eb Clarinet
    Chapter 19 - Oboe + Clarinet + English Horn
    Chapter 20 - English Horn + Clarinet + Bassoon

    Section 2 - Woodwind Octaves
    Chapter 21 - Piccolo - Flute
    Chapter 22 - Piccolo - Oboe
    Chapter 23 - Piccolo - Clarinet
    Chapter 24 - Flute - Flute
    Chapter 25 - Flute - Oboe
    Chapter 26 - Flute - Clarinet
    Chapter 27 - Flute - Bassoon
    Chapter 28 - Oboe - Oboe
    Chapter 29 - Oboe - Clarinet
    Chapter 30 - Oboe - English Horn
    Chapter 31 - Oboe - Bassoon
    Chapter 32 - English Horn - Bassoon
    Chapter 33 - Clarinet - Clarinet
    Chapter 34 - Clarinet - Bass Clarinet
    Chapter 35 - Clarinet - Bassoon
    Chapter 36 - Bassoon - Bassoon
    Chapter 37 - Bassoon - Contrabassoon

    Section 3 - Woodwind Combinations in Two- to Five-Parts
    Chapter 38 - Two Parts: Low to Medium Registers
    Chapter 39 - Two Parts: Medium Register
    Chapter 40 - Two Parts: Medium to High Register
    Chapter 41 - Two Parts: High Register
    Chapter 42 - Two Parts: Very High Register
    Chapter 43 - Three Parts: High Register
    Chapter 44 - Three Parts: Very High Register
    Chapter 45 - Four to Five-Parts

    Section 4 - Light Vertical Harmony in the Woodwinds
    Chapter 46 - Light Harmony in the Flutes
    Chapter 47 - Light Harmony in the Oboes
    Chapter 48 - Light Harmony in the Clarinets
    Chapter 49 - Light Harmony in the Bassoons
    Chapter 50 - Two-Part Light Harmony: Thirds in Unison
    Chapter 51 - Two-Part Light Harmony: Thirds in Octave
    Chapter 52 - Three-Part Light Harmony: Thirds in Multiple Octaves

    Chapter 53 - French Horns in Unison
    Chapter 54 - French Horns in Octaves (Two Parts)
    Chapter 55 - French Horns in 3rds and 6ths
    Chapter 56 - Trumpets in Unison
    Chapter 57 - Trumpets in Octaves (Two Parts)
    Chapter 58 - Trumpets in Thirds
    Chapter 59 - Trombones in Unison
    Chapter 60 - Trombones in Octaves (Two Parts)
    Chapter 61 - Trombones in Thirds

    More Info

    The Works Referenced in Volume 2A (in alphabetical order)

    Beethoven - Symphony #5
    Berlioz - Symphony Fantastique
    Bizet - Carmen Suites
    Bizet - L'Arlesienne Suites
    Borodin - In the Steppes of Central Asia
    Borodin - Polovtsian Dances
    Borodin - Symphony #2
    Chabrier - Espana
    Debussy - Nuages
    Debussy - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
    Debussy - La Mer
    Debussy - Nocturnes
    DeFalla - Three Cornered Hat
    Dukas - Sorcerer's Apprentice
    Elgar - Enigma Variations
    Enesco - Romanian Rhapsodies
    Faure - Pavanne
    Holst - The Planets
    Mahler - Symphony #1
    Mahler - Symphony #9
    Mahler - Songs of a Wayfarer
    Moussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain
    Rachmaninoff - Isle of the Dead
    Ravel - La Valse
    Saint-Saens - Carninval of the Animals
    Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre
    Satie - Parade
    Schoenberg - Chamber Symphony For 15 Instruments
    Strauss - Ein Heldenleben
    Strauss - Don Juan
    Strauss - Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
    Stravinsky - The Firebird
    Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite
    Wagner - Overtures (Parsifal, Tannhauser, The Flying Dutchman)
    Webern - Passacaglia

    The Works Referenced in Volume 2B (in alphabetical order)

    Beethoven - Symphony #5
    Beethoven - Symphony #9
    Berlioz - Symphony Fantastique
    Bizet - Carmen Suites
    Bizet - L'Arlesienne Suites
    Borodin - Symphony #2
    Borodin - Polovtsian Dances
    Borodin - In the Steppes of Central Asia
    Brahms - Symphony #1
    Brahms - Symphony #2
    Debussy - La Mer
    Debussy - Images
    Debussy - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
    Debussy - Nocturnes
    Dukas - Sorcerer's Apprentice
    Dvorak - Symphony #9 "The New World"
    Faure - Pavanne
    Faure - Requiem in D Minor
    Holst - The Planets
    Lalo - Symphony Espagnole
    Mahler - Das Lied Von Der Erde
    Mahler - Symphony #1
    Mahler - Symphony #2
    Mahler - Symphony #3
    Mahler - Symphony #4
    Mahler - Symphony #5
    Mahler - Symphony #8
    Mahler - Symphony #9
    Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night's Dream
    Mozart - Symphony #41
    Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain
    Ravel - Tombeau de Couperin
    Ravel - La Valse
    Ravel - Noble and Sentimental Waltzes
    Ravel - Rhapsodie Espagnole
    Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe
    Ravel - L'Heure Espagnole
    Respighi - Fountains of Rome
    Stravinsky - Rite of Spring
    Stravinsky - Firebird
    Stravinsky - Petrushka
    Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre
    Richard Strauss - Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
    Richard Strauss - Ein Heldenleben
    Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite
    Wagner - Flying Dutchman Overture
    Wagner - Tannhauser Overture

    Endorsements: Professional Orchestration Volume 2A

    Garry Schyman, G.A.N.G. Award Winning Composer, BioShock
    I would highly recommend this book to any student or working professional wishing to learn or expand their knowledge of orchestration. If you intend to work professionally the skills imparted by the studies presented here will be of enormous benefit and will give you a professional advantage for your entire career.

    Daryl Griffith
    Conductor, Composer
    Orchestrator, Young Visiters (BAFTA winner), Prime Suspect (BAFTA winner), Harry Potter VI
    With Professional Orchestration 2A, Peter Alexander has done a very good job of making the various doublings and unisons within the strings section clear, so that you can readily understand what’s going on, even in some of the more complex examples presented. I was particularly pleased to see a starting basic section on divisi with enough information to get the reader thinking and listening, without delving too much into the finer points.

    I think that the choice of musical examples is excellent, and no composer who wishes to write orchestral music should neglect to know the scores for these pieces.

    This book will be extremely useful, especially to sample based composers, either striving for improved realism with their orchestrations, or who wish to transfer their MIDI compositions to a live ensemble, so I have no hesitation in recommending it.

    Peter Siedlaczek, Advanced Orchestra, Classical Choirs, String Essentials 2
    A great publication! You perfectly met the needs of so many musicians - it’s an incredibly valuable source of knowledge! I like also very much its clear structure and the way you explain complex things. A “must” not only for students, but for every musician dealing with samples and “orchestral sound”.

    Jeff Laity, Marketing Manager, TASCAM
    The new book is amazing! It builds on the first book by adding more explanations, MIDI programming advice and film scoring concerns. I can’t imagine a more exhaustive study or more organized collection of string writing. You can pre-charge my card for books 2B through 8!

    Jonathon Cox
    Composer: Death4told, Broken Oath
    Lecturer of Music at Ohio Northern University and Muskingum College
    As a music educator and practicing composer, nothing is more important to the quality of a composition than the art of orchestration. The subtle combination of instrumental timbres has the ability to make or break a score. A properly orchestrated piece can evoke emotion and take the listener to another place. It has the ability to transcend to a new plain; where beauty, love, agony and joy all co-exist in perfect harmony.

    For me, orchestration has always been one of my strong points, cultivated over many years of score study and professional application. There is nothing quite like the feeling one gets when standing in front of an orchestra, listening to a hundred musicians bring your hard work and labor to life. It truly is a life changing experience.

    Peter Alexander’s book, Professional Orchestration 2A: Orchestrating the Melody within the String Section is a unique approach to the subject of orchestration.

    It focuses on groupings within the strings, instead of the traditional “This instrument sounds good with that one” approach. It gives the reader the ability to understand how to accomplish the big, lush sounds of master composers such as Strauss, Mahler and Moussorgsky, without the need to scour countless scores and recordings. The many full page orchestral excerpts and MP3 examples perfectly depict the technique that is being described by the text itself.

    Another aspect of the book that I thought was unique and extremely useful was the incorporation of the “electronic orchestra”. The diminished availability of professional orchestras and the proliferation of affordable computers and software have lead to the rise of the MIDI orchestra. Software such as Garritan’s Personal Orchestra, Quantum Leap’s Symphonic Orchestra and Mark of the Unicorn’s Symphonic Instrument have opened up new and exciting possibilities for the professional and the hobbyist alike. The book’s included scores and MIDI mock-up techniques give the orchestrator a chance to obtain true orchestral sound and color through practical exercises and real world applications. This feature alone should make this book a must have for all musicians.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the text and attempting the MIDI mock-ups. This book mirrors my own approach to MIDI orchestration and I find it a very useful tool. I will recommend this book to anyone who is serious about their musical education and who wants to achieve the highest standards from their compositions and orchestrations as possible. I can’t wait to see the next volume.

    Dr. Andrew Mark Sauerwein
    Composer-in-residence and Assistant Professor of Theory/Composition, Belhaven College
    From the outset, the art and practice of instrumentation and orchestration is best understood by hearing and studying the literature: It’s all there, in the music. Peter Alexander’s Professional Orchestration, Volume 2A, embodies this tradition beautifully, and serves as an indispensable reference tool for anyone wanting to better grasp the art of string-orchestra writing.

    At first blush, a 600-page text focused exclusively on a catalog of techniques for string writing seems like overkill: one can imagine pages of descriptive prose, far more than students could work through in a typical college-level class on orchestration. But this text is primarily music, and (after a modest but effective sales-pitch to get students on board) every ounce of text is used to frame each example and lead students into its technical heart. The author’s observation about the use of MIDI mock-ups and the importance of live sound provide an excellent frame in which to develop technical facility with ears, sequencers, and sample libraries. Through the process of hearing the music, studying the score, making electronic mock-ups, and seeking out live performances, students are drawn into a well-organized and focused pursuit of the practical business of using orchestral strings effectively and expressively.

    I can imagine some instructors wishing for more “lecture” in the text itself, but I will dare to say such an approach entirely misses the point: in Professional Orchestration, the student is invited directly and immediately into the process of exploring and absorbing the art of orchestration. The classroom “lecture,” or mentorship (as it ideally should be), can then build on students’ technical engagement with individually-tailored insights and reflections. And this is essential: the teacher, not the textbook, is the best mentor; and music, more than words, provides the best explanation. By putting musical experience front and center, Professional Orchestration provides an ideal platform for such teaching and learning.

    Endorsements: Professional Orchestration Volume 2B

    Michael Barry
    Project Manager for the Cinesamples library Hollywood Winds
    Since it can be easily argued that the winds are the hardest section to synthistrate, knowing how to effectively write for woodwinds gives a composer's work a definite sense of professionalism, an advantage over a colleague who isn't writing for them. However, balancing the unique tones from the main instruments found in the woodwind choir can become problematic at times without a proper understanding of how to write for them.

    In Professional Orchestration Volume 2B, Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwind and Brass Sections, you'll find a unique departure from the generic descriptions provided in the classical orchestration textbooks. Peter has edited and streamlined this information so you can take it straight to your sequencer. You can learn the breakthroughs achieved by Ravel, Stravinsky, among others, which you can then apply to your own music.

    For students coming out of a rock/jazz background, you'll find Peter's detailed descriptions of instrument combinations akin to "lead" signal chains: "Take a Les Paul Marshall stack, add a dark Strat up an octave and you get this, you can hear it on this track from this album" ...becomes... "Take a Flute, add Oboe, add Bb Clarinet, add Eb clarinet and you get this tone, you can hear it in Mahler Symphony #8 - here is the score, and oh yes, the additional MP3s from eClassical and videos from YouTube where available.

    All in all, Professional Orchestration 2B and the entire Professional Orchestration Series is a fantastic tool for those wishing to improve their own musicality.

    Stephen Melillo
    Winner, Telly and Ava Gold Awards

    Nominated five times for a Grammy

    Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize

    Leaving a major of Physics and beginning studies at the Boston Conservatory of Music, I had multiple reasons for going to a pawn shop and buying one of each instrument, then setting up private lessons with Boston Symphony Musicians. In addition to preparing myself as a teacher, I needed to know what books couldn’t tell me.

    Orchestration, a one-semester course was often discussed in the factual terms of instrumental ranges, sometimes tessitura, and with minimal, often stylistically-confined examples. But was that really Orchestration?

    My own sensibilities told me that becoming a beginner several times, then advancing while studying and playing each of the instruments myself, while discussing them with professional master-Musicians would provide a better window into the possible.

    Enter Hugo Norden, a professor I was very fortunate to have, and interestingly enough, a teacher Peter and I have in common. “There are 6 ways to voice a triad,” said the 90-year-old genius.

    You have to love it. Three factorial. Simple math, but wow, how liberating that is for someone who never studied theory. Suddenly the massiveness of Music was graspable. A great beginning!

    Now enter Peter Alexander. Let’s recreate his logic in organizing this very powerful document. If you want to play a game, you want to understand not only the rules, but the possibilities. Yes, there are the parameters, the confinements... but what can you DO?

    Although the permutations of Orchestration are greater than voicing a triad, the same logic nevertheless applies in utilizing an instrument or a group of instruments as they interact with another instrument or group of instruments. This is why I have come to deeply respect Peter Alexander. He has taken the time to provide an impressive compilation of possibilities. Why?

    Peter is an autodidact. He is self-taught. In his impassioned quest to uncover the “mysteries” of Orchestration, and enhanced by a high order of personal expectation, Peter has forged ahead for his own acquisition of knowledge and in so doing provided for other self-starters a compendium of devices, combinations, interactions and a means of experimentation that to my mind represent one of the best ways possible to share the history, science, and art of Orchestration. He has provided the rules and the possibilities of the game.

    From the vantage point of someone who has taught instrumental Music for 35 years, and a fellow self-learner who has started young people on the very instruments I was also writing for in everything from young band to professional orchestras across many, many hours of Music, I have learned that the most important aspect of Orchestration... regardless of style, or age, or ensemble... is working experience with the possible. In a word, Orchestration is the study of possibilities. With continued experience, the world of the possible grows and reflects other considerations like rehearsal time and personal knowledge of the Musicians... and much more.

    Peter deserves our respect and gratitude. He has provided a well organized consolidation of possibilities. He has cast these possibilities/devices/combinations/interactions into a carefully laid out, well-articulated self-starter lesson plan. In lieu of having access to Musicians, he has made experimentation possible via the use of carefully plotted exercises with current technologies and virtual libraries. Therefore the book is simultaneously historic and state-of-the-art.

    Many times across the many years I have been asked, “Where is your book on Orchestration?” Now, I am fully confident in responding, “Look up Peter Alexander. That’s the way to go.

    If you, the self-learner will approach this process with the rigor you have imagined in the great Composers of the Past and observe in the working Composers and Orchestrators of the present... if you put yourself through the experimentations and imagine you yourself having compiled such a wonderful, useful resource, then you will gain much from this well-crafted self-teaching tool.

    Peter and I are now friends. Before that friendship, I had read his other book on Orchestration. Through his work, I have found someone with much to offer those who really want to learn and are willing to work hard. For that reason, I am delighted to offer this forward. I wish you and Peter... Godspeed!