Techniques of Orchestration Part 1 | How To Orchestrate a Chord

hi everyone I'm Rick Beato in today's everything music we're going to talk about orchestration in particular how to orchestrate a chord amongst the entire orchestra coming up next on everything music you okay what are we going to talk about orchestrating we're going to orchestrate a Big B flat major chord the same B flat major chord that is the opening chord to Star Wars we're going to talk about how it's orchestrated what instruments are playing what how the instruments work together what instruments transpose and how many notes are there per note of the B flat major chord okay so let's start out with this in the score it starts out with the flutes one and two okay now I did a quick mock-up of it and I'll play of it okay now the flutes one and two are playing octave B flats listen that's very simple so just octave B flats then there's a piccolo part that also plays B flat and active above that here it is okay we turn these up a little bit that's the piccolo here's the flutes and here the active there now I'm going to put them together so you can hear the so that's the two flutes and piccolo together now the next instrument that we have in the woodwind section is the oboe and it sounds like this okay the oboe is split up into two parts and they are playing octave B flats as well okay so here we go with four different parts we have the flutes Divisie so parts one and two playing octave B flats we have the piccolo and active above the flutes and then we have the oboz split one and two all playing B flats here they are together all three okay now we still have we only have the tonic still next we add in the clarinet one and two okay now the clarinets one and two are playing octave B flats as well another clarinets are transposing instrument meaning they are a b-flat instrument so when you want to hear the note B flat you have to write AC so they sound a whole step below what is written okay if I want to write a b-flat a concert b-flat I have to write AC for the clarinet now here are the parts together this is the clarinet piccolo oboe and flutes okay now the next instruments we add in are the bass clarinet this bass clarinet is a b-flat below middle C this is a bass clarinet sounds a 9th below or is written okay so it's an active in a second so you need to write AC and active above to get the sound and active below it's very confusing I know but listen ok so that's that bass clarinet well let's hear all the parts together so far this is with the two flutes the piccolo the 2 oboes the two clarinets in the bass clarinet it's all B flats ok then you get to the bassoons here's the bassoons the bassoons are split into parts 1 & 2 okay these are inactive apart as well listen again okay and then I'm going to play the entire woodwind section together this is the whole woodwind section played simultaneously now there is nothing in the woodwinds other than B flats so one of the features of this Star Wars chord this opening chord is it has a lot of roots in it okay now if you remember from your part writing in college now some of you have never done part writing in college there are rules that you learn that are common practice rules when you have a major chord in root position you don't double the third okay and one of the reasons you don't double the third is because it weakens the chord well when you're in a full orchestra you may have to double the third but it's the thing is to balance the number of thirds in the chord you want to have very few thirds you want to have many more roots and probably less fifths and even less thirds which is what John Williams does in this orchestration of this chord because he wants to give the sound of b-flat now let me talk a little bit about the opening of Star Wars it's really interesting if you buy the original record of the original Star Wars it starts with the 20th Century Fox theme which was written by Alfred Newman Alfred Newman is Thomas Newman's dad okay so that theme I played for you here but I can't um that theme did that that uh that theme is in the key of B flat now John Williams knew that the opening theme the 20th Century Fox theme was going to play first then there was going to be about 10 seconds or so of scrolling text and then BOOM I believe or maybe it comes right in I think it comes right in actually right after the 20th Century Fox theme ends dead – Tom and then and then you're right into that first chord so he must have thought okay if that's going to play I need to write this theme in B flat major there's no other reason for him to have done it although b-flat does sound good b-flat major just not good now so we've gone through out the entire woodwinds and we still have nothing other than B flats okay so then we go into the brass section the first thing we do is the French horns now the thing about the French horns are they sound a perfect fifth below what is written okay if you want a b-flat major chord you have to write an F major chord so you have to write an F major a fifth above what you want okay okay this is divided up as a major triad with two roots a third and a fifth like you would normally voice a major chord if you were doing four-part SAT be writing okay so this is your first third and your first fifth are in the French horns so the complete B flat major chord is in there so B flat D F and B flat again okay now the next thing are the trumpets trumpets like the clarinets are b-flat instruments they sound a major second below what are written if you want a b-flat to play a concert b-flat you have to write AC a step above it whole step above it the three instruments that are transposing that we've talked about so far are the clarinets the trumpets and then the French horns ok the trumpets are split into three parts now the trumpets play a big B flat major triad but this is played in inversion so that also has a third so now we have two thirds in the cord so that voicing is from lowest note up um D F B flat so is the B flat on top so it's a first inversion B flat major chord that you're playing with the trumpets with the three trumpets so it's written it's a three part chord okay so here's the French horns and the trumpet playing together okay so really in the brass we get it the first full b-flat major chord and you know because the way it's orchestrated that this is a dominant brass opening okay next is the trombone section this is played with two trombones on a bass trombone in unison typically you'll find bass trombone in with things like brass bands and it's usually played in a trombone section in Orchestra usually have three players typically if you're going to have a bass trombone part it'll double an active blower in this case it's unison but the bass trombone is usually played by the third trombonist okay next we have the tuba and the tuba typically takes the root as well so that's playing a b-flat so in the brass section here we have an entire B flat major chord listen that's really the sound of the chord when you think about it next let's move on to the percussion because in the score the percussion is placed below the brass typically and above the strings the strings are usually at the bottom of the page okay in most orchestral scores the first instrument is the timpani okay so the timpani is playing begins with a triplet roll a sixteenth note triplet roll on B flat you guessed it okay now there's a crescendo on it as you can hear and that is a nice big fat b-flat in the triangle we have a a tremolo on the triangle now many times triangles are used in rhythmic fashion with muting that can be done with a hand to create rhythmic motifs or they can simply be done in dinner dinner bell fashion like in here with a tremolo with a tremolo you'll see three lines above the note okay that will indicate tremolo next is the crash okay so now you'll find that a lot of times at the climax or any big moments in an orchestral piece which nothing bigger than the opening of Star Wars now let's hear the percussion all together oh that feels so good doesn't it Mir it again that's great next we go into the string section now the string section in this in the first and second violins we have unison but it's unison tremolo on the same b-flat okay so you have the two full sections playing a tremolo b-flat no like this with a sports onto all these parts has sports Ando no sports Ando means a loud attack on it and then it kind of backs off ah okay listen here's the second violin sounds the same because it's the same note so once again a big big b-flat now when we get to the violas the violas are written in alto clef okay so the clef is in the middle of the staff okay that middle C's in the middle of the clef so the alto clef is really between the bass and treble clef okay so it's essentially moved up middle C which would normally be below the staff okay in trouble clef is actually moved to the middle of the staff these are things that you have to know as an Orchestrator okay you have to know what the ranges of the instruments are you have to know what you're transposing instruments and you have to know which instruments are written in different clefs now certain instruments like the trombone for example will go to tenor clef or the cello can go to tenor clef as well okay depending on if it's in a very high range and you really need to understand what these cliffs are well the viola is always written in alto clef okay because it's the alto part now it's divided into two parts it's divided into a D and a b-flat okay so here we get our third third in the orchestra we have one in the French horns we have one of the trumpets and we have one in the violas otherwise we've got all B flats and we have the we have an F in the trumpets and we have an F in the horn so there's two F's now in the cello we have a b-flat and in the basis we have a b-flat down the octave okay now bass and cello are written as the same note but the bass the double bass okay it sounds an octave lower than is written the bass just like a bass guitar and just like a guitar both these instruments guitar and bass sound and active lower than they are written when I play the low E on a guitar and I go to the piano and I play that written low E you say wow that's an active higher than than what the guitar note is okay the guitar note is going to be an octave below the written note if you were to play the written note e on the piano where it's written the guitar is going to sound an octave lower than that the same with the bass okay so here is the string section altogether playing the opening chord the tremolo strings really add excitement to that opening chord okay now let's listen to it all together again here we go makes me jump every time I hear it really really powerful that crash that the triplet a fill of the timpani into the crash cymbal it's a really powerful opening one of the most powerful openings to any piece I can think of so this is how you orchestrate a chord so you need to know that you need to know your basic four-part SAT be part writing rules in order to orchestrate chords for full orchestra properly I picked this one out because this is a great example of how to orchestrate a major chord because it orchestrates it between these sections okay so you have to learn how to write between sections you have to understand how to write in the woodwinds you have to understand how to write with a brass and how to write with the strings okay so you have to know how to orchestrate within those sections because many times you are writing pieces within sections sometimes they will go on by themselves another section will come in and depending on on what your the intensity of the piece is what sections you have playing together or not and occasionally like this at the climax of pieces or in big moments you have the entire orchestra playing together so learning how to score a chord is really important but you have to learn to score it in sections first so once again in this piece we have I believe there's in the opening chord I believe there's 22 B flats there are I want to say two F's and three DS now the three DS normally you don't have more thirds than fifths but they're not in powerful instruments for example like they're in the viola and the vo is split in half so half the section is playing only at the section is playing the D and that's in the middle of the orchestra you have to also understand how the orchestra is arranged in order to decide and how you're going to orchestrate the chord with the first violins and the cellos being on the outside of the orchestra they're going to require different treatments than instruments that are in the center and instruments that are naturally louder the viola is not going to project as well because it's in the center of the orchestra okay so you have to think about these things when you divide up parts like that you have to really think about the balance of it John Williams is a master Orchestrator so he knows he wants to get the sound of b-flat out there so he's really heavy on the roots not so heavy on the fifths and even lighter on the thirds which is fitting right within principles of four part common practice writing that's all for now I'm Rick Beato

40 Replies to “Techniques of Orchestration Part 1 | How To Orchestrate a Chord”

  1. fnherzog says:

    Hi Rick, I'd love some more of these orchestration technique videos! Is there any hope for that?

  2. SYLperc says:

    1:10 cracked me up haha

  3. Edgy Music says:

    tldr: hammer the tonic

  4. Alexey Filippenko says:

    Would be cool to have the summary of what exact instruments are playing 3rds and 5ths. I think I learned more about which instrument in the orchestra plays with which transposition, which is for a library music composer much less important than what "piano notes" one should divide into which sections and instruments to get the right feeling.
    Anyway, watched till the end, thanks for the disection!

  5. Nuno HS says:

    Mr. Beato, you did it again! Excellent exposition of such complex matters in your usual simple and practical way. The only way to cram a whole semester of college-level information into eighteen minutes :)Thank you.

  6. Tonia Marchesiello says:

    Such a great and very clear explained lesson Maestro, grazie 👍👌👏👏👏👋

  7. A Day in the Life of says:

    Your'e amazing.

  8. Vinicius Queiroz says:

    I never thought orchestration took so much work and consideration! I mean, just for one chord, look at how many variables we need to take into account! That's just awesome!!

  9. Bradley Doyle says:

    Hey man! Just saying thank you for the videos. I love writing music, Frank Zappa got me into orchestral music, and he is my favorite composer. I am learning how to write more orchestral music, and learning the subtleties of orchestration/arranging are incredibly exciting and complex. Videos like yours are irreplaceable for someone like me who is in school and doesn't have time to attend scheduled lectures!

  10. Pipestud3 CorncobPuffer says:

    Love the videos. This was a great help. Currently working on a piece called the Abandoned Skyscraper. It's the last in a cycle. The first two being the Abandoned Theme Park and the Abandoned Motel. My scoring is as follows: 2 of E flat Alto Sax, F French Horn and Bassoon. 2 Tenor Trombones. Timpani. Followed by 3 of violin, viola and cello. Is it okay to write divisi in such a small number of strings, or should I spread the chords out more evenly among the different sections. The Abandoned Skyscraper is written in E flat. Which notes in this key work best for the timpani. Unfortunately I don't own a computer so all scores are done with pencil, staff paper, ruler and keyboard. Although it takes much longer, the lessons learned have been invaluable. All advice is welcome and keep up the good work.

  11. Robbert Johan Smidt says:


  12. Maulik Shah says:

    Been watching a lot of tips & tuts online since a year but Rick's videos are something else. I've realised that once you've gathered sufficient basic knowledge about music theory and prod, RB's videos are a breeze for people who want to improve their knowledge and go deeper. This video for eg. It took me a day of digging to find the perfect video that demonstrates orchestration techniques and this was it. So helpful, so informative. Explaining complex ideas comes effortlessly to RB whereas I've often seen other online tutors fumble while explaining relatively simpler topics.

  13. Bruce Bouck says:

    so enlightening to see this! Thank you Rick! I really had no idea this arrangement was so 'tonic heavy'! I guess it doesn't hurt to just unequivocally state the pitch center.

  14. Marlon Castro says:

    I'm following you since the first videos with little Dylan that I saw for the first time actually on Facebook!!!, And I was so amazed by the whole concept you explain of enhancing the learning capabilities thru the learning of music. I have actually had a student about 10 years ago which I kind of discover he had perfect pitch and he end up developing it pretty good (not at Dylan's level hehehe). Actually he is a very interesting case because he had a horrible accident and lost his right ear, so he listens thru only one ear maybe that helped him developing more his left ear. I'm a big fan of yours and want to thank you for all your videos, all your dedication to music and for sharing all your knowledge with us.

  15. Andy Tan Violin & Viola says:

    Hi. I just checked the score and the trumpets are actually one octave higher than your input example. And the violins are one octave apart.

  16. DrGargani says:

    not having ever studied this, it is a bit overwhelming, however, you have broken it down so well, I must congratulate you!! I have orchestral layer sounds on my keyboards that do a lot of this for me, but you are showing just how many things go into achieving such a sound.

  17. André Lousada, Conductor says:

    The triangle is also used to add to the timber of high pitch melodies like Celeste or picc.

  18. Arjun Mehta says:

    Awesome video, thank you!

  19. Julien Taming says:

    Power Mac G5 in 2016 ? Oh nice

  20. MusicZeroOne says:

    Love this. Really helped me understand an orchestral chord. Also a great little template

  21. Patrick Mackezyk says:

    If you ever do a part two do Holst

  22. Dave McKay says:

    2nd time i watch this.

  23. askar dyussenbin says:

    Wow sir! You’re an amazing human…

  24. Ercan KESEROGLU says:

    What's Paitti? You mean's Piatti? 🙂

  25. Lee Bee says:

    Videos like this are fascinating, particularly with regards to the technical side of scoring. However, there seems to be a lot of folks out there who think that they can just learn a few technical tricks, study music, or buy a DAW, and that qualifies them to be a musician! All the technical knowledge in the world cannot produce good music: music comes from the soul and nowhere else. If you're not able to imagine great music in your head, there's no point going any further, because music does not come from technology, it comes from the soul.

  26. UnleashTheGreen says:

    "I'd play it for you, but i can't"……that is a sad comment on the state of things. it's not the world i want to live in.

  27. Nenad PopNikola says:

    hi rick , about great favor , you have super stuff but i get lost those joe pass blues endings .
    would you be so kind to please point me which video it was .
    thanks in advance.

  28. Gabriel JONAS says:

    Rick i think i love you

  29. Colby Pollard says:

    The Kurzweil SP6 I’m torn. I watched these real demos and I’m amazed. Now I have the sp6 here at home and stage and I’m not amazed. Compared to anything around the house Korg Triton from 20 years ago. Korg kicked its ass. Vs a Kurzweil in the living room a digital domestic with speakers built inside. Sounded so much better than any sound on the sp6. Why would I need an 88 weighted keyboard to carry around for stage when it doesn’t sound as good as what I got? Or am I just fixed on my old key sounds. Perhaps I just don’t know how a 9 foot Steinway really sounds? It’s my fault that I don’t think any of the pianos r as good as the domestic model. Or even garage band piano’s? Maybe it’s my Bose L1. No!! Everything else sounds great . SP6 doesn’t sound good. But it sure does on these demos.
    In fact the SP6 was a gift and I don’t think I want it…
    I feel bad. I should love it. Right?

  30. B B says:

    You are the most qualified person to change music "theory" to music "fact", there shouldn't be any argument not to learn music theory because it is music fact!

  31. Michael Coleman says:

    This is one of the most understandable and educational explanations of orchestration that I've ever heard. Thank you! I just wish you'd done a whole series like this. Alas, there's not even a Part 2. 🙁

  32. tooter1able says:

    So much here
    . Do you do one on orchestration for Concert Band?

  33. Walter Holland says:

    Is there a ratio for balance of roots, thirds and fifths?

  34. Walter Holland says:

    Also, Alfred Newman is Randy Newman's uncle.

  35. carl perkins says:

    if this video does not show what he is saying in a music stave …does not make a sense

  36. Bentley Hendrixx says:

    Since this is educational material, shouldn't you be able to play the 20th Century Fox & Star Wars music as acceptable under fair use?

  37. Eric Veritas Blair says:

    Just to clarify, I don't think Rick is suggesting that we use all those tonics when normally orchestrating, but is showing how many different clefs we need to be proficient in?

    Generally speaking, the easy way to wrap my head around it is to understand that we want most of the notes to fall within those 5 lines. And to do that for each instrument we must utilize different clefs.

  38. Abzorbo says:

    Totally confusing. Its a shame nobody made a more logical music system. What about the pink oboe ?

  39. Bon Bon says:

    06:29 Isn't it that music can be transposed to any other scale, because the intervals are relative anyway? However, I see it quite often that people insist that something should be played in a certain key and no other. What is the reason for that? Is there an ABSOLUTE pitch in music after all?

  40. Roman Cooperman says:

    Why is the whole trumpet section here an octave lower than in the real SW score?

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