Professional Orchestration Vol 2A: Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section - PDF eBook



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  • Author:Peter Lawrence Alexander
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In Professional Orchestration. Volume 1: Instruments and Instrumentation Notes, the focus was on instrumentation, registration of instruments and how they sound in four specific registers, plus learning how to do score reductions through the optional Professional Mentor Workbook.

With Volume 2, the Second Key in learning Professional Orchestration, we move from instrumentation into the actual study of orchestration by learning specific combinations of instruments within each orchestral section. Because this is such a vast topic of study, Volume 2 has been split into two separate books with Volume 2A covering the String Section, and Volume 2B covering the Woodwinds and Brass.

What you see, you hear. What you hear, you learn in your inner ear so that when you hear the device in your musical imagination, you know what it is and how to write for it. Building on this foundation from Volume 1, Professional Orchestration. Volume 2A: Orchestrating the Melody Within the String Section gives you the time tested writing techniques for strings that breathe life into your music and give your work the professional sound and touch.

Following the model set by Professional Orchestration Vol. 1, the examples are organized by low, medium, high and very high registers, so you can see and hear where composers tend to write each device and combination.

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.

Each technique has a brief commentary starting you off on identifying the technique and what else is happening within the score. There are also MIDI mock-up insights. Volume 2A is almost 600-pages, formatted in 8.25"x11" size, with full page/full score examples. A PDF Syllabus is included as a guide to studying the book.

You've been waiting for such a long time to learn and apply all these wonderful techniques. Why wait any longer?

Click on the Contents tab above to see the Table of Contents for this book.

Do you read music or play by ear? To get the most out of Professional Orchestration, you need to read music. If you learn mostly by ear, please see the Visual Orchestration series of courses.

Optional MP3 Audio To Enhance Your Studies

Available for separate purchase, you can get the Professional Orchestration Volumes 1 and 2A MP3 Audio Package. Because examples are cited from the same works across all the Professional Orchestration volumes, the audio packages have been designed so that you only order the new works not previously quoted in an earlier volume. By combining the Vol 2A Audio Supplement Pack with the Volume 1 Audio Pack you get approx. 60% of the musical works quoted in Volume 2A. Licensed from, these are the full works, or movements (over 17 hours worth!) Not all pieces referenced in the books are currently available from eClassical, but as more works do come available an additional supplement pack will be produced to cover additional pieces.

You can find the Professional Orchestration Volumes 1 and 2A MP3 Audio Package. in the Professional Orchestration Audio & More subcategory.


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

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

Below, you'll find the Table of Contents for Professional Orchestration Vol. 2A. In the chapter headings, + indicates instruments in Unison, while - indicates instruments in Octaves.

Table of Contents for Professional Orchestration 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

567 pgs.

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

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 (Orchestrator)
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.

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.

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