2. Creating the Orchestration

Copying the Piano Part into the Score

This is where the exciting activity of orchestrating takes place! We start with bringing in your piano piece into the orchestral score we created in the previous chapter, after which we hide all the orchestral staves…

Focus on Staves

“Hide!? “you will ask, “I thought we were going to orchestrate! Don’t we need all these instruments for that?”

Yes, we do, but first we are going to have a closer look at the piano piece.

Orchestration through Structure

Using Sibelius’ Musical Structure text-style, we divide the music in sections. Doing this will make it very clear which sections are repeated and you will become more conscious of how to orchestrate a repeated section. Are you going to use the exact same orchestration or will you use a different instrumental color palette?


The Sustain Pedal

We all know how the sustain pedal affect the sound on a piano, but how would you translate this to the orchestra? Let’s mark those moments in the piano score for now so we don’t miss them later on.


Collecting Interesting Musical Material

You can’t imagine how many small rhythmical and melodic elements you can find in a single piano piece! In Sibelius we will use the Capture Idea option to collect the most interesting ones in the Idea Window. They could  turn out to be useful during the orchestration process for example as canonic imitations or rhythmic vamps.


Entering Orchestration Ideas

Time to scribble down orchestration ideas into the piano score, all within Sibelius. This is the part where everything depends on how creative you are, but also about how much musical experience you have up to this point in your life. The more scores you have studied and listened to in the past, the more ideas will pop into your head!

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Starting at the Big Picture

In this step we bring our orchestration ideas from the piano part over to the Grand Staves of the Orchestral Section. We are not working on the single instrument staves yet, that is something we’ll save for the next step.Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 4.55.37 PM.png

Diving into the Orchestral Sections

We are finally there. Your initial orchestration ideas are now going to be assigned to every individual instrument. Here we work out the voicing, articulations and slurring in detail, starting with the strings. We continue with the woodwinds, brass and end with the percussion section and harp.

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Adding Sparkles!

Does your music need some extra excitement and color? Now the heavy lifting is mostly done and you can have a look and listen at your score from a more bird’s eye perspective, see if it needs some fast piccolo runs or tension building screams in the low brass, what about those always effective harp glissandi during a phrase or section transit? These are all elements that didn’t exist in the piano version, only an orchestra can give these possibilities which will transfer a piece to a new level.

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The Guide can be direct downloaded as PDF from my GumRoad online shop:
Orchestrating Piano Music using EWQLSO Gold in Sibelius 7.5