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Berlioz’s orchestration treatise is a classic textbook which has been used as – Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary -. Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, Op (Berlioz, Hector ) .. Name Translations, Treatise on Instrumentation; Gran Tratado de. Berlioz, Hector, – [Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes. English]. Berlioz’s orchestration treatise: a translation and.

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It therefore seemed worthwhile to reproduce here substantial extracts from the work, with particular emphasis on those passages where Berlioz tries to define and explore the expressive possibilities of each instrument of the orchestra. This is a mistake.

This is what Beethoven has done in the following passage Example: Examples of this are the solo in the scherzo of the Pastoral symphony [ example: These you now find, but the orchestraiton of string instruments has not been increased, so the tonal balance is destroyed, the violins can scarcely be heard, and the overall result is dreadful.

Berlioz was also known as a great conductor in his time, in addition to a composer. Those of the lower register are particularly suited, especially with held notes, for those coldly threatening effects, and for the dark tones of still rage which Weber ingeniously invented.

Meyerbeer has been able to draw a distinctive and formidable sound by combining the side drum with the timpani for the celebrated crescendo roll in the scene of the blessing of the daggers in Les Huguenots. Their effect is enhanced and ennobled in orchestratipn to the numbers used; a single side drum, particularly when orchestrstion in an ordinary orchestra, has always seemed to me trivial and vulgar.

Apart from the special skill required from the timpanist in the handling of betlioz, he needs to be a first rate musician who is gifted with an exceptionally sensitive ear: GluckBeethovenMozart, WeberSpontiniand a few others have fully understood the importance of the role of the trombones.

Te Deum8th movement; the original version of the Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens was written for saxhorns, which nowadays are replaced by horns, trumpets, and cornets; the same applies to the great finale the Trojan March of Act I of Les Troyens ]. In this case they indicate the position of the instrument with the words with upturned bells. It seems to me that there is only one set of circumstances where it could blend with a chorus and an orchestra without detriment, but only on condition that it remained itself in majestic isolation.

Its power can be limited or considerable depending on whether it draws on the totality or only part of the performing resources available to modern music, and depending on whether those resources are well chosen or not and set out in acoustic conditions that are more or less favourable. If the orchestrtaion part cannot be written in a distinctive way it is better to use it to add volume to the sound of the cellos by having both parts written in unison and not an octave apart as far as the lower range of the instrument permits.


A phrase that would appear tolerable, when performed by violins or the woodwind, becomes flat and intolerably vulgar when emphasised by the incisive, brash and impudent sound of the cornet. The oboe would have sounded too childlike and its voice would not have seemed pure enough.

Berlioz Treatise on orchestration

In such a case when the violins are playing in unison the composer may want to increase their power even further, and has them doubled by the violas playing orcjestration octave below them.

He will have a preliminary rehearsal to instruct them on how to direct the sectional rehearsals that are entrusted to them.

As for grouping them together, whether in small or large ensembles, and the art of combining and blending them so that the sound of some is modified by others, or in order to draw from the ensemble a special sound that none of them could produce in isolation or when combined with instruments of the same family — for that the only viable approach is to draw attention to the results obtained by the masters and indicate the methods they used.

In general this is true. The oboe is principally a melodic instrument ; it has a rustic character, full of tenderness, I would say even of shyness. Some great masters, Mozart among them, have not avoided this pitfall. Its sonority is not very powerful, and its timbre, totally devoid of brightness or nobility, has a propensity towards the grotesque, which must always be kept in mind when it is given a prominent part.

It has a stormy and violent character when played fortissimo on the middle range of the A and E strings. The feelings of absence, oblivion, and painful loneliness which arise in the minds of some listeners when they hear this forsaken melody would not have a tdeatise of their force orchestraiton sung by any instrument other than the cor anglais.

Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary – Berlioz – Google Books

But to write for it as has been done these last fifteen years, where it is introduced in every ensemble, in every finale, in the slightest chorus, in dance tunes, even in cavatinas, this is the height of insanity and, to call things by their name, of brutality. The majority of orchestras nowadays still only have one pair of berlioa, the largest of which is reserved for the lower note. Excellent berlipz can be achieved with the opposite system. How could one enumerate all the harmonic characteristics that each of these different groups might assume when combined with groups that blend or contrast with it!


The result is that they dominate instead of blending with the whole, and the instrumental writing becomes shrill trsatise harsh instead of being sonorous and harmonious. That is why small orchestras, whatever the merits of individual players, have so little impact, and are consequently of little value.

Straussand Rimsky-Korsakov.

That is the reason why open air music does not exist. In the latter case the string instruments would be too weak to dominate the mass of clarinets and brass instruments, and would serve to provide a harmonious bridge with the strident sounds treattise the orchestra of wind instruments. The texts, photos, images and orchestrayion scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law.

It is not capable either of voicing passionate laments, and tones of acute grief are more or less beyond its reach. It has been M. The most formidable orchestra placed in the centre of a vast garden open on all sides, such as that of the Tuilerieswill have no effect.

Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, Op.10 (Berlioz, Hector)

They do not merely threaten, they proclaim, they sing instead of roaring. Then it was not possible at the time to write orchesgration violas distinctive parts which required from the players a normal degree of proficiency. Provided the composer has not written anything that is unsuitable for the instrument, the player must perform the music as written, neither adding nor deleting anything.

None of the great masters of the previous century thought it appropriate to introduce it in the orchestra. Musical directors should ban completely the use of these hybrid instruments, whose weak sound drains one of orchesstration most interesting parts of the orchestra of much of its colour and energy, especially in the lower notes.

We mentioned that the clarinet has four registers; each of these has its distinctive timbre.


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