Model #: 978-0939067930
Manufacturer: Alexander Publishing

Professional Orchestration Vol 2B: Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds and Brass

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Reviews: 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!


With Volume 1, Solo Instruments and Instrumentation Notes, the focus is on instrumentation, registration of instruments and how they sound in four specific registers, and learning how to do score reductions.

With Volume 2B, we move from instrumentation into the actual study of orchestration by learning specific combinations of instruments within the woodwind and brass sections supported by eClassical audio packages (available for separate purchase).

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, Volume 2B, Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds and Brass gives you the time tested writing techniques for both winds and brass that breathe life into your music and give your work the professional sound and touch.

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.

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.

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

SAMPLE PAGES (Click to open in a new window)
Professional Orchestration Vol 2B: Introduction

Table of Contents

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

Works Quoted in Volume 2B

Symphony Fantastique

Carmen Suites
L'Arlesienne Suites

Symphony #2
Polovetsian Dances
On the Steppes of Central Asia

La Mer
Rondes de Printemps
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Sorcerer's Apprentice


The Planets

Das Lied Von Der Erde
Symphony #1
Symphony #3
Symphony #4
Symphony #5
Symphony #8

Symphony Espagnole

Mozart Symphony #41

Night on Bald Mountain

Tombeau de Couperin
La Valse
Noble and Sentimental Waltzes
Rhapsodie Espagnole
Daphnis and Chloe
L'Heure Espagnole

Fountains of Rome

Rite of Spring

Danse Macabre

Richard Strauss
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
Ein Heldenleben

Nutcracker Suite

Flying Dutchman Overture