Wind Ensemble Project

To achieve a successful orchestration for your 470 Wind Ensemble project...
* Write for the instruments in their best sounding ranges
* Balance the parts within the individual families
* Double the melody first, the bass voice second, and the inner voices last and evenly
* Use percussion to reinforce the important features of the music
* Write for Band and Orchestra Grade III difficulty level.

I. Balance - the relative levels of instruments in different registers.
Factors that influence balance (other factors being equal):
1. Numbers - how many instruments are on a note (or part).
    Equal numbers of like instruments produce an even balance
    e.g.: An SAT homophonic texture for 9 clarinets, 3 on a part, will be balanced
2. Family representation - instrument families balanced within themselves will balance overall
    Brass e.g.: Horn 1-2-3-4 (SATB), Tpt 1-2-3 (SAT), Trombone 1-2-3 (ATB), Euph 1-2 (SS 8vb or BB), Tuba 1-2 (BB)
    Woodwind e.g.: Picc (S) Fl 1-2 (SS), Oboe 1-2 (SA) English horn (T), Bassoon 1-2  (BB)
        Eb Clarinet (S), Clarinet 1-2-3 (SAT), Bass Clarinet (B)
        Alto Saxophone 1-2 (SA), Tenor  Saxophone (T), Baritone Saxophone  (B)
    Mixed families must be balanced. Brass and percussion instruments are stronger.
    It takes 2 or 3 clarinets to balance one trumpet (other factors being equal)
    e.g.:  6-9 Clarinets 1-2-3  (SAT) = 3 Trumpets 1-2-3 (SAT)
3. Register - instruments in strong areas of their range will over balance.
    e.g.: oboes and saxes are stronger in the low registers, flutes and picc are stronger in their upper registers
4. Playing requirements - the way the instruments are altered
    e.g.: fluttertounging is usually loud, mutes diminish the volume, percussion rolls are stronger than natural decay
5. The relationship of parts to one another
    The top line will be heard the most easily (even if it is not the melody)
    The bottom voice (usually the bass) will be the next heard
    Inner voices are least heard. (The melody can be lost if it is an undoubled inner voice)
6. Spacing - the farther away a part is from others the more likely it will be heard.
7. Activity - active parts stand out.
    Lines will be more discernible if...
    a. They move faster than others (8ths or 16ths in a quarter or half note pulse)
    b. They move in different directions (contrary motion)
    c. They are diverse - have a different rhythm or melodic contour
    d. They are of a different articulation
8. Dynamic markings - the LEAST effective way to balance instruments
    Asking flutes to play louder against soft trumpet parts will NOT substantially improve the  balance.
    However, raising the flutes an octave above the trumpets will help.
9. Octave doubling -  adds to the fullness of sound
    Allows instruments to sound in their best sounding registers
    Considerations: Flutes 8va, Tuba - 8vb

II. Blend - how the instruments sound when combined.
How much two or more instruments sound like one.
It is difficult to distinguish between instruments that blend well.

Factors that enhance blend
1. Instruments are in the same family or subgroup (like double reeds)
2. Instruments (of different types) play adjacent voices in the texture
    a. juxtaposition - e.g.:  flute 1, flute 2, oboe 1, oboe 2 (S-A-T-Svb or B)
    b. overlapping- e.g.: flute 1, flute 2 AND oboe 1, oboe 2 (Tva-S-S-A)
    c. interlocking - e.g.: flute 1,  oboe 1, flute 2, oboe 2 (S-A-T-Svb or B)
    d. enclosure - e.g.: flute 1, oboe 1, oboe 2, flute 2 (S-A-T-Svb or B)
3. Instruments play similar parts or have similar treatment (articulation)
4. The Instruments are evenly balanced
    Blend and balance are often inseparable components
5. There are mostly consonant intervals between parts
    Unlike instruments playing dissonant intervals blend the least
6. The timbre of the instrument does not attract attention
    e.g.: an oboe playing in its low register can stick out of an otherwise balanced mix

III. Function - how the instrument is employed within the composition:
Homophonic texture: melody (soprano), inner harmony (alto and tenor), harmonic bass, accompaniment figures
Contrapuntal texture: melody (subject), countermelody (counter subject), descant, bass
Highlighting: embroidery (flourish), splash of color, cadence support, stengthening the orchestral crescendo
Rhythmic support: pattern and ostinato, harmonic rhythm
Structural support: "hooks," cadence support, modulation support

IV. Texture - density and use of instruments.
1. How the instruments are employed in homophonic and contrapuntal styles (see function).
2. The number of the instruments used and the relative density of instrumental combinations.
    e.g: Tutti ensemble
    Instrument group choirs (woodwind choir, brass choir, or percussion ensemble)
    Family groups (clarinets, saxes, trumpets, mallet percussion, etc.)
    Mixed family combinations (flutes and double reeds, trombones and tubas, clarinets and bassoons, etc.)
    Solo with ensemble (solo trumpet or euphonium with woodwinds, solo oboe or saxophone with low brass, etc.)
        N.B.:  The contrast of color of the solo instrument with the accompaniment ensemble helps its clarity
    Unlike instrument combinations (a solo quartet of clarinet, horn, euphonium, and bassoon for instance)
        N.B.:  These are the most difficult to balance

V. Form - how the instrument combinations relate to the structure of the total composition.
Consider the elements of form that bring about unity and variety
1. Identity - repeating elements
    Melodies, motives, harmonic and tonal patterns, can have instrumental colors or texture associations
2. Change - new formal elements.
    Use changes of texture or color to coincide with changes of structure such as new melodic material
3. Contrast - varied repetition
    Use changes of texture or color to provide interest to sections which are repeated

VI. Context - subjective considerations of instrumental combinations (and difficult to predict).
1. Timbral effect - brilliant, bright, somber, dark, muddy
    e.g.: adding piccolo and xylophone or orchestra bells can increase the brilliance of a passage
    N.B.: Instruments that blend well tend to confuse the perception of the timbre (instrumental colors).
    For a melody to stand out, consider using a contrasting color, e.g.: oboe melody accompanied by clarinet choir
    or using a brass instrument solo accompanied by woodwinds
2.  Emotional context - joy, sadness, humor, terror
3. Articulation - affects timbre
    Slow attacks can confuse perception of the timbre
    Sharp attacks help to clarify the instrumental colors

VII Scoring Considerations for Wind Ensemble
1. Flat keys are easier to play in than sharps. Consider Eb, Bb, F and C major and their relative minors for Grade III.
2. Transcriptions of orchestral works should attempt to cover the dynamic range of the strings.
    Clarinets alone cannot achieve this (their chalumeau register is soft and diffuse and the altissimo is difficult to control).
    Look for how the strings are used, then assign instruments that will best achieve this effect.
3. Saxophones are powerful instruments and serve well as a bridge between brass and woodwinds.
    When used with those families, they soften the brass and strengthen the woodwinds.
4. Saxophones can add power to the lower registers of the clarinet family.
5. Doubling flutes and clarinets in unison in the upper register can create pitch problems
6. Use the whole family of saxophones alone as an homogenous group.
7. Flutes and clarinets are better at doubling trumpets up an octave than in unison.
8. It is typical of band parts that the more difficult passages are given to the lead stands of players.
9. Solos for "color" instruments are often cued in other parts.
    e.g.: an oboe solo may be cued in soprano saxophone
10.  Brass can easily overpower woodwinds in bands.
    It is prudent to use octave doublings of woodwinds in tutti passages.

VIII. HELP! A list of things to AVOID! -- some grading criteria!
N.B.: The objective of the project is to have a good sounding score - with only one rehearsal!

1. Horns and Tubas too high
2. Flutes, Piccolo, Oboes and Saxes too low
    N.B.: Most all instruments sound good when written WITHIN their staff.
    High instruments (flutes) are better a little above, low instruments (tubas) a little below.
3. Overwhelming percussion.  Unless the percussion is featured, subtlety is best.
4. Unidiomatic treatment of instruments.
    Extremes of range, agility or unusual treatment of instruments should be avoided.
    A Band and Orchestra grade 3 difficulty level is our objective.
5. Parts that are unnecessarily difficult.
6. Uninteresting parts.
7. Repetitious are otherwise fatiguing passages. (The "O Holy Night" factor!)
8. Parts with too little rest or breathing places.
9. Tacet parts
10. Poor manuscript (pickup rests!, missing fermatas, no rehearsal marks or enough measure numbers)
11. Untaped parts and scores
12. Parts without page turns
13. Key - winds generally sound better in flat keys. Consider key signatures with 1, 2 or 3 flats for Grade III
    The key of your original may NOT be best for Wind Ensemble.
    Look at the range and characteristics of the melody.  What key and register sound the best for the instruments chosen?
14. Tempo. Give a tempo marking in the score and parts. Dont make the conductor guess!
15. Dynamics. A dynamic marking MUST be written in each part every time the instrument enters or reenters after rest.
16. Articulation.  Slurs and articulation markings are vital in determining the true character or flavor of the music.
17. Phrasing.  Wind instrumentalists must breathe. Plan and indicate where all phrases begin and end.