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Orchestration, Arrangement and Programming

The Project Portfolio Of Laura Etemah c7160301


MODULE: ORCHESTRATION ARRANGEMENT AND PROGRAMMING
NAME: LAURA ETEMAH
IDENTITY NO: C7160301
COURSE: MA MUSIC PRODUCTION
THEME: PROJECT PORTFOLIO
DATE: MAY 13, 2015.

Introduction
The building of my portfolio on this course has availed me the opportunity to
develop my understanding, skills and abilities in orchestrating, arranging and
programming. The various projects I carried out within this portfolio have guided
me to meet up with the learning outcomes of this course. This portfolio is a
compilation of my research in the field of orchestration, exercises in Orchestration,
Arrangement and Programming that have helped me to develop my skills in this
field of Music.
My musical background is a good foundation which has been of immense help to
me in this course. One of the learning outcomes of this course is the ability to
demonstrate an understanding of instruments and arranging techniques necessary
in the production of a score. This is hugely dependent on knowledge of music
theory and the ability to sight-play or sight-read a music score which I have
conquered through the ABRSM theory exams. Joining the Leeds Beckett Choir as
a soprano singer also helped me to improve my sight-reading skills hence making
my score readings in this module more enjoyable. My involvement in the violin
orchestra and brass band in the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Church,

Lagos-Nigeria as a trumpeter turned out to be a great advantage, as they helped me


a whole lot to visualize things more clearly especially during my study of the
basics of orchestration and the families of instruments. Therefore, the study of
strings and brass instruments went good. My only practical experience with the
woodwinds is with the recorder and the saxophone. I never really had to play a
flute, oboe, clarinet or bassoon but watched a lot of woodwind concerts in the past.
So the study of this family was quite good.
My research work on the keyboard and percussion family was comfortable as I
have experience in these areas but the application of these instruments in
orchestration and programming was novel to me until I commenced this module.
Included in this portfolio are short programming of my arrangements and
orchestrations, as well as my examples of virtual orchestration which satisfy the
second and third learning outcomes for this module.
Because I am a church music specialist, I was naturally drawn to hymn scores and
orchestration works. Hymn books from the MFM church and Songs with a
Message were of great use to me during my studies of scores. Also available to me
were videos of the MS Baptist All-State Youth Choir & Orchestra which can be
viewed
via
this
link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0eKTGtCdiU&list=RDt0eKTGtCdiU#t=38.
But being a church musician did not stop me from researching into orchestration
works outside Gospel music. I also viewed a vast amount of videos which are
listed in the study of each orchestral family.
Having mentioned these, the skills I already have and those I need to develop are
next in perspective. I already mentioned that I have a good music theory
background which is necessary to read scores and by virtue of being a multiinstrumentalist (not a virtuoso at all), I have a good insight on how the orchestral
instruments work. The programming phase is another important aspect of this
module, an area I looked forward to build upon because I was totally new to
programming. Music performance has been a big part of my lifes experiences but
I have little or no knowledge of the use of technology to perform music. This
module offered me the opportunity to develop my programming skills using the
Logic Pro X and Kontakt 5 sound libraries.

Although I came across the Easwest Quantum Leap Gold, Cinebrass, NI Session
Strings, Hollywood Strings and other better-sounding sound libraries during my
research, I intentionally limited myself to the one mentioned above in order to
concentrate on developing my programming skills using the sound libraries within
Logic Pro X because from my research, I discovered that it is not about using the
most expensive sample libraries but how you make the most out of what you have
is what really matters.
Therefore, as a summary of my goals, I aimed at:

Learning the Logic interface.


Creating realistic sounding MIDI orchestral works.
Improve on my orchestration and arrangement skills.
Composing complex orchestral work.

STRINGS (Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass)


Listening, Tools and Techniques.
I started out by watching and listening to a large number of orchestral works on
youtube including: Lord of the Rings by Spirit Brass Ensemble, Norman Leyden
Serenade for String Orchestra and a host of others ensuring that I watch loads of
content covering the four families of the orchestra, listening for textures,
expression, key modulations, arrangements, dynamics and other aesthetic qualities
including technique and the way the conductors directed the orchestras to
implement movements. Some videos had the scores on the screen scrolling while
they played and others were purely live orchestra. These listening exercises helped
me to prepare my aural perception for the work ahead. From these, I paid close
attention to how the instruments were handled, characters of instruments on
different registers, how the playing techniques affected the sound, the timbre of the
individual instrument, the blend of the instrumental harmony, their roles and
positions in the orchestra.
I also listened to solo instruments in every family and for a start, the Scarborough
Fair played by a violinist on the key of D minor, Tempo 90 and Key Signature

3/4 (watch video and see scores via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jVhYU_-RHs) caught my fancy and I used it
for my very first practice to get familiar with programming using Logic. I worked
with the Logic sound library which wasnt too helpful in helping me achieve my
aims and I got a great feedback from the module lecturer who shared some
insights, giving me better options with Kontact 5 patches which had better
sounding orchestral instruments and a range of articulations that responded well to
automations unlike the sounds in the Logic Pro X library. I was introduced to
blending patches and learned to automate modulation, expression and tempo from
the Global Tracks drop-down.
So I came up with this audio (https://soundcloud.com/laura-etemah/scarboroughfair) and the screenshot follows.

Screenshot of my programming of Scarborough Fair with the application of tempo variation and expression automation.

I also listened to the instrumentation of Gloria by Vivaldi which consisted of 12


movements. The pieces were obtained from Leeds Beckett Choir who were
preparing for the spring concert at the time. The rehearsals gave me a good idea of
how the music should sound. Although the choir was accompanied by an organist,
I watched a lot of videos that had same songs accompanied by a string orchestra. I
noticed how each member of the string family could form different and strong
rhythmic patterns in quarter, eight and sixteenth notes played in a perfect blend of
staccatos and legatos that could give the entire music an amazing and energetic
flow. This was also noticed in Karl Jenkins Concerto Grotto for strings. See video
here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32Ag0dBGbvc)
Still on strings, during my research, I came across the book, Deep Listening A
Composers Sound Practice by Pauline Oliveros, which shared insights and
exercises on how to improve your listening awareness. Practicing the exercises in
this book helped me to enhance my listening skills and consequently developed in
me a keen interest in deep listening. Hence, I am more aware of the subtle colour
changes and nuances in the orchestral performances I listened to. I then delved into
listening to a slower piece like Amazing Grace by the MS Baptist Youth
Orchestra found via this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0eKTGtCdiU),
which informed my first string arrangement after watching a series of Youtube
tutorial videos on string arrangement including: 8 Tips for Realistic MIDI
Sequencing by Andrew Gerlicher, Creating Realistic Strings from MIDI by Nick
Murray and The Ironwind Series by Samtech Studios. I was more careful to notice
how the strings were used in the transition points of the piece connecting the other
families to the main melody and forming the chord bed for the music as they
provide depth and expression with their slow movements and subtle entrances to
their sections. The strings also spearheaded sudden allegro movements at some
points, portraying their ability to change the texture of the music in different ways
including their combinations and speed. Their ability to play sustained notes with
vibrato also ensues a perfect way to end the music.

My String Arrangement
Instrumentation:
1st Violin, 2nd Violin, Viola, Cello and Double bass.
Key: C Major.
In this arrangement, I started out with some random chords on a slow tempo,
arranged the note positions by spreading them out for easy playing by an orchestra.
I made the strings to connect in sound, extending their lengths where necessary,
balanced the mix, panned, avoided a hard quantize, applied automations for
modulation and expression, EQ, reverb and then I bounced. At this time, I was still
learning to use the Logic Pro X DAW so I practically worked by ear guided by the
instructions given in the videos I watched.

My string arrangement.

Here, I aimed at working with all the elements that were involved in making
strings sound realistic so that I could improve on them as I developed my skills
through the module. The youtube video titled: Creating Realistic Strings for MIDI
by Nick Murray was most helpful. The information shared between pages 70 and
77 of Eric Turkels Arranging Techniques for Synthesists on strings were also of

great value. In addition, for the purpose of practice, I also worked on two hymns:
Years I Spent by William R. Newell and Wilt Thou Be Made Whole by Wm. J.
Kirkpatrick.

Screenshots showing note velocities and expression automation on the first hymn.

String arrangement of the second hymn.

The link to Wilt Thou Be Made Whole can be found


https://soundcloud.com/laura-etemah/wilt-thou-be-made-whole-by-laura.

here

In summary, I applied the following techniques obtained from both interview,


paper and internet researches, to help me come up with realistic MIDI strings:
1. Find the best synthesized sounds I could get.
2. Made my sound more organic by adjusting the velocity to create crescendos,
diminuendos, attacks and cutoffs. Even when the synthesized sound was
authentic sounding, it sounded computerized until I did this. It was a timeconsuming because I considered how each note was played. I pretended
to be playing the instrument that I was editing.
3. Adjusted the velocity of each phrase and each section to make it consistent
with how a real soloist and section will play - Making the recording sound
like a real ensemble.
4. Adjusted the length of individual notes so that they sounded like a real
person is playing them. Staccato, legato, short, long, accents were
painstakingly done by editing. This was also a time-consuming process.
Having a velocity sensitive MIDI keyboard, I ensured that my playing was
fairly musical to save me editing time.
5. Adjusted the balance of each section so that the melody is loudest. Where
there were block chords, I made the top note loudest, with the inner notes
softer than the melody; ensuring that prominent parts are heard. Block chord
notes were exactly the same length to duplicate the sound of an ensemble
and entrances of every instrument in a section were timed, as should the end
of the notes - make the ensemble sound tight rhythmically.
6. Adjusted the pan controls so that each part has its own stereo spectrum
having in mind, where the instruments are usually placed on a real stage.
7. Mix each section of instruments into its own dedicated bus, using the buses
to balance the sound.
8. Added some reverb.
9. Added some compression.
10. Checked and rechecked everything so that the balance, phrasing, dynamics,
diminuendos and crescendos and every detail are as close to perfect as I
could get.

WOODWINDS (Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn,


Saxophone).
Listening, Tools and Techniques.
The standard woodwind quintet includes the flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon
which first appeared in the late 18th century. It flourished briefly around 1800, all
but disappeared until the late 19th century, and made a triumphant reappearance in
the 20th. Every member of this family is distinct in sound which blends in many
ways as opposed to the consistent sound of the string family. The oboe and
bassoon are both double reeds; the clarinet is a single reed; the flute has a soundhole; the horn is really not a woodwind but yet still regarded as a member of the
family. (Zeke Hecker, n.d.).
As mentioned earlier, my only practical experience in practical woodwind playing
is with the recorder and saxophone. From research, I discovered these instruments
are not so commonly used in the orchestra; but the experience I have in playing
them gave me a good foundation on the study of woodwinds. Hence, my research
and study of woodwinds was well directed and understood. I especially appreciate
this family of the orchestra when I began the listening exercise. I discovered that
this family played a prominent role in most of the cartoons and comedy films I had
watched during my childhood days - Tom and Jerry for example.
Among my listening exercises were the woodwind sections of Bupyeong Church
Immanuel Symphony Orchestra, Mozart- Symphony No. 41 'Jupiter' - Rattle by
Berliner Philharmoniker Symphony, The Hanging Tree for woodwind Quintet, Ole
Guapa by the Berliner Philharmoniker woodwind soloists.
After watching these, I came to a personal conclusion that this family is the most
exciting in the orchestral family because of their versatility, agility, tone colour
diversity, capabilities, individual sound quality and character. As RimskyKorsakov (n.d.) rightly put it, the woodwinds dont behave similarly to one
another in various registers unlike the strings. They can play extremely fast as
well as slow pieces, with a wide variety of textures as well as keeping the
underlying balance each time any of the instruments take the lead.

I discovered from the videos that woodwind players need to breathe; hence rests
are very important for them. Both musical rest and embouchure rest are
necessary. In the way that they were used, they created rich overtones and wideranging textures especially when they crossed octaves. Also, the permutation and
combination of the instruments mixed in a colourful palette created a great
effect. Again this family is capable of a whole lot of different exciting tones
peculiar to them - sliding pitches, tone bending, muting, microtones, harmonic
glissandi, flutter tonguing and a whole lot more can be achieved with them.
In the pieces and orchestra, it can be seen that the composers avoided uniform
legato for too long as the instruments have a wide array of more dynamic
capabilities. The legato application worked well with hymns which is what I
drew inspiration from in my own arrangement. But in my own opinion, this
family provide a more exciting sound when playing staccato and in allegro.
The classification and principle on which the instruments of this family function
can be found between pages 164 and 179 of Samuel Adlers The Study of
Orchestration. Adler shared tips for scoring for woodwind instruments on page
178 of his book. He dealt elaborately with each family, expanding on their
ranges, articulation and tonguing and coloristic effects of how the instruments
can be combined during orchestration.
The music arranging and MIDI orchestration tips shared by Graham Plowman on
http://www.haydockmusic.com/composing_tips/music_arranging_tips_part_one.ht
ml#ixzz3Yj8dOa5c,
http://www.midi-orchestration.net/p/sequencing-miditips.html, On Composing for Woodwinds by Zeke Hecker on
http://kalvos.org/heckerz.html and Principles of Orchestration by Nikolay Rimsky
Korsakov were of great help to me in working on my arrangement for
woodwinds.
Plowman (n.d) also shared great insights on panning, the use of reverb and using
the instruments realistically. He hinted on the danger involved in panning
orchestral instruments in the exact traditional way they are arranged on the stage or
in the concert hall because of the resultant poor audio effects.

My Woodwind Arrangement
Having these at the back of my mind, I embarked on my own arrangement for
woodwinds using the score for the hymn Hark on the Highway by Austin C.
Miles. I chose this hymn because of its fast tempo which I felt would advertise the
beauty of this family of instruments. This is a hymn I have watched my church
orchestra play. The score can be found in common hymn books. My arrangement
goes thus:
Key: C Major
Time Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 120
Instrumentation: Piccolo, Flute 1&2, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon with piano
accompaniment. Here is the audio link - https://soundcloud.com/lauraetemah/hark-on-the-highway-by-laura-etemah

Woodwind arrangement showing track contents, tempo changes and expression automation.

Picture showing the adjustment of note velocities of a melody line which helped in effecting crescendos and diminuendos.

BRASS (Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone and Tuba).


This group is the loudest in the orchestra and is usually placed far back in the
orchestral arrangement. They were originally outdoor instruments used for hunting,
military functions and the announcement of civil disasters and also used in church.
The modern symphony orchestra has only recently welcomed this family into their
midst. They were initially not a prominent partaker of the orchestra and they are
only in now because they have evolved (Adler, 2002).
My listening exercise for this group included the works of Andrew Bykovs
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFrkpOd9w0) and series of orchestral performances that had a vibrant brass section.
This family is capable of performing huge leaps in amplitude on various notes
because of their dynamic range. They can be very loud with a harsh bite as well as
really warm as in the work of Andrew Bykov stated above. The trumpets are
usually the melody carriers and are supported by the tubas playing the walking or
flowing bass lines with the french horn in collaboration with the trombones
working to provide the harmonic blend in-between. This group also works well
with percussions. As loud as they can be in nature, they can also play quiet blues
and ballads with a nice legato feel. It all depends on the technique level of the
player. All tempo and styles can be achieved with this family as can be observed
from the score video. They also have an energetic sound when they play in tutti,
more reason why they are used in fanfares and march music.
In terms of MIDI orchestration, they share some similar techniques with the
woodwind. Their players have to breathe in-between passages to and this is
effected by creating spaces for that.
As a form of learning resource to learn brass programming, I watched this video A
Guide
to
MIDI
Orchestration
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia10YNvgryE, How to Get a Realistic Brass
Sound
from
MIDI
Samples
by
Nick
Murray
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOaP4OD1sUc and Writing for Brass by
Terry Dwyer - http://homepage.ntlworld.com/terence.dwyer/WritingforBrass.htm.
On chapter 6 of his book, Arranging Techniques for Synthesists, Eric Turkel
throws more light on the Brass family, the characteristics and capabilities of each

member. Adler does the same in chapter 9 of his book, The Study of Orchestration.
Equipped with these, I went into brass arranging. Having played some pieces with
the MFM Brass Band on the 2nd trumpet, I decided to get the scores of one of the
bands favorite songs titled Marches in F which is a medley of classical and
popular songs arranged by Seyi Oluyale. See scanned music sheets via this link http://www.leevocalstudios.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/brass-band-pieces.html.

My Brass Arrangement
Instrumentation: Trumpet 1&2, French horn, Trombone and Tuba.
Key: F Major
Tempo: 120
Key Signature: 4/4
My first discovery while sequencing for brass is that they sounded late with a lag
on their attack. To correct this, I highlighted the MIDI samples and moved them all
a little towards the left. This helped to get them on the beat. Tweaking the
instrument parameters, adjusting the velocities and tempo markings, automating
modulation and expression, adding some reverb, EQ, compression and other
plugins all added to the resulting realistic sounding brass ensemble. Listen to the
arrangement
via
this
Soundcloud
link
https://soundcloud.com/tags/mfm%20hymn%20by%20laura%20etemah. See the
screenshots below.

Picture showing automation of modulation, tempo changes and note velocities of individual tracks.

In summary for brass realism, I have added add power, depth, analogue warmth
and adjusted the MIDI parameters and MIDI notes to get the resultant sound.

Picture showing the mix, pannings and plugins used

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER


In order to demonstrate all the techniques I have learned in this module through
research, video lessons and practical exercises, I carried out a project that involved
sequencing using instruments from all the families of the modern orchestra. I did
not pick a familiar orchestral piece; rather, I picked a striking melody that lingered
from an orchestral piece I listened to in my childhood days and decided to
orchestrate around it.
My Arrangement.
Key: A minor, Tempo: ranges between 56 -107, Time Signature 4/4
Instrumentation: See Screenshots
This composition involved every family of instruments including the percussion
which came in to introduce the different sections especially with the rolling snare
and cymbals. I created colour and emotive textures by combining instruments in
octave layers on the theme melody. I also did this in harmony of thirds with
different families coming in at different points. The flutes and piccolo carried the
melody in the beginning on different octaves legato-wise rising and falling in
tempo. The middle section featured a lively, up tempo call and response between
the violin and the woodwinds introduced by the rolling snares and the cymbals.
The strings were applied in the interlude section in a legato feel and reduced tempo
to create an effect in itself. The woodwinds came in and out of sections in their
usual dramatic runs. The harp in arpeggios, the cello and discordant trumpets
harmonized in the slow tempo coda and accelerated to a dramatic ending followed
up with the bass drum and the cymbals.
More so, to make this piece more realistic, I added automation, made note velocity
adjustments, bussed the instruments according to their families and added reverb,
EQ, compression, limiter and gate. See screenshots below for more details. The
following screen shots show different sections of my work and the techniques
applied. Here is the link to the audio: https://soundcloud.com/lauraetemah/orchestral-arrangement-by-laura-etetmah.

Conclusion
For me, this is going to be my first ever attempt of orchestration. I found out that
my attempts at learning to play at least one instrument in all the families of the
orchestra was not a waste of time at all. Without such an experience, Id have
found this course a bit of a struggle. Hence, I am happy with my background in
instrument playing and sight-reading because they really helped.
However, I am only new to using technology to make music which kept me many
nights in the labs trying to find my way through Logic Pro X. I am glad I could
come up with the orchestration works I did because at the start of it all, I was
discouraged; I did not know how to use any DAW at all much less create anything
with them. I may not have had access to other sound libraries but I am happy with
what I was able to achieve using the Kontakt library. What gave me more
encouragement were the comments sent to me by my church orchestra leader when
he listened to my work. He couldnt quite believe they were all made on the
computer. He sent me the scores thinking I wanted to play live music with a band.
Hence, I believe that in my own little way, that I have been able to meet the
learning outcomes of this course.
Although I intended to do more orchestral pieces, this is impossible because of
time constraint. I spent a great deal of time learning the Logic Pro X interface and
the rest of the time creating orchestrations. I have been able to tap into my
compositional capabilities and discovered Logic Pro X and sound libraries as a
great tool. This has inspired me in a new direction. The first is to re-orchestrate
hymns and make into albums for fans of instrumental hymns and the next is to
improve my orchestration skills and launch into making my own compositions for
the commercial world.

Bibliography
Adler, S. (2002) The Study of Orchestration. (Third ed). W. W. Norton &
Company, Inc. USA.
Oliveros, P. (2005) Deep Listening a composers Sound Practice. iUniverse, Inc.
Lincoln.
Turkel, E. (1988) Arranging Techniques for Synthesists. Amsco Publications. New
York.

Webliography
All websites are stated in the text.

Hymn Scores
Oluaye,
S.
Marches
in
F
http://www.leevocalstudios.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/brass-band-pieces.html.
Olukoya, D. K. (2014) 70 Days Fasting and Prayer Programme. MFM. Lagos.