How to write Golden age music - Arranging the Strings

Hey everyone, sorry I skillpped a week, been so busy recently.

Here is the next instalment of the series, arranging strings.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m loving this series, it’s a lot of fun writing in this style.

I go into a lot of detail in this vid so it’s a fairly long one. Not to as long as some though :slight_smile:


Great vid again. This is the type of stuff I like to see, really helps me. The string choir parts are something I need to learn better, but all that automation never works. I spent all night working on a piece, but it never comes out sounding the way I envision it. I go write on Dorico, just through those dynamic makings and hairpins where i want them and voila! Sounds realistic for the most part.

That being said, my Golden Age piece has kind of stalled (partly 'cause I got involved in writing two other pieces :sweat_smile:) mainly because I wrote the opening theme as a brass fanfare and then followed it with a variation in the woodwinds, but at a pause in the wind part, I hear just a couple of pizzi strings to fill in, but the transition back to the wind part is jarring and sounds off-kilter. Haven’t found the solution yet.

Keep 'em coming! (When you can :smile:)


Aaah yes, automation is such a pain. To be completely honest with you, I’d say that to really get that “real sound” (I personally think it’s never a real sound but rather, convincing), you just need to learn exactly what libraries work best for what jobs you want and only then add your automation. I think I touch on that on the video but it’s definitely a key part of the process, which is why I have 5 different libraries with around 12/15 patches open just for strings. By the end of the project I’m assuming I’ll have 30 string patches open. :sob:

I should be able to upload a few more videos this week and next week. Due to starting back in work (I work in a college) Covid restrictions have made work even more difficult than usual, and I’ve also started beck at the gym (I have 2 stone to shift :open_mouth: ) so it’s been girly full on, meaning I’m categoric in the evenings, but this is starting to get easier as I climatise. So this Friday I’ll be recording a follow up to the Trailer piece, then at some point early next week I’ll release the horn video for this series, and maybe even the percussion video.

I’m using Davinci resolve 16 to edit my videos now so my audio is much cleaner as a result. It also takes less time to edit so this might speed up my video making. I do however need to start using a different video recorder to record myself. I have one but need to purchase a stand and charger next month. It’s not a huge issue right now :slight_smile:


Thank you really good stuff. Nice that your doing it so detailed. I think you have really nailed the way you make your videos, the clarity and they are easy to understand and follow. Good orchestration tips also. And I´m jealous of your Spitfire studio orchestra libraries always wanted them.

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Ah thank you man, you are seriously so encouraging and I’m so appreciative!

I took a lot of time with these to think how I was going to approach it. I thought the best way was to mainly have me talk with the screen split as, yes you need to see what I’ve done but it’s more important you see me talk about it, as it’s going to be different when you do it anyways. Do you agree?

SSO is the main library I invested in to be honest. It’s just so good, It can do anything I ask of it, unlike most other libraries… though the only downside is how bright the brass are. Though I usually high pass them and that sorts out the problem :smiley: I’m really excited to do the following videos. I’m not sure if it came across how much I’m loving this series :smiley:

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Yes I think it´s good that you film yourself as well as the screen. It makes “you more in contact” with the viewers. In comparison I regularly watch Dirk Ehlert and Christofer Siu . They film their self differently, I actually liked your way better. If I can give anything back as a listener it´s my pleasure.
Looking forward to next video. And yes can tell you like it, maybe due to the love for orchestral music?
Must hold back on the Spitfire for now I´ve got more libraries than skills, but maybe further ahead.

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This has to be the best phrase I’ve read in a long time. Perhaps this should be on a t-shirt :stuck_out_tongue: o can totally relate to this as well!

That is a real compliment btw, I look to their channels for inspiration so it’s great to hear! Thank you my friend. You are right about the passion for orchestral music, I’ve always been so facinated by it.

I’m actually considering doing a few blog style videos in the coming weeks. Perhaps I’ll do one on how I got into music anc a bit of my background? Not sure if people would be up for that style of video of not bug I’m experimenting right now, so we shall see how it goes :slight_smile:

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It would definitely be interesting with some background on you as a musician, and what kind of music that attracts you. Just experiment and see what gets you the most views. I think it could take time to get a large audience but you’ll get there I’m sure.
Oh, and I got to think of one thing I don’t have heard so many YouTubers talk about. There’s always a lot of advice on what you can do and what you should do. But it isn’t as common to hear what you should definitely NOT DO(for example instruments that doesn’t blend well?).
You had a great tip in your video to always add reverb and such after the recording for example.

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Oh cool yeah I will keep all of that in mind.

I hope my audience grows, because I love the idea of helping others full time. I can’t see any other way to do that but for the audience to grow, despite this not really being my main focus, at least at the moment it isn’t. Right now it’s enough that I’m helping composers like you! I’m simply having fun doing it too… especially when I do styles like this!

That’s a really good idea. Perhaps I’ll do a video on each of the parts of the orchestra about what NOT to do. I mean, that would be my click bait title at least :stuck_out_tongue:

I personally don’t have many “don’t do this” tips that are involved in the orchestration… there’s tonnes of things I can say about harmony and orchestration though. So maybe that’s an area I can focus on. There will have to be a disclaimer in there to state that they’re just suggestions though :stuck_out_tongue: that’s the dangerous thing about those types of videos which I’m guessing is why people don’t doctgem as much?

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Absolutely. Understand what you mean. Personally I think it works best when I just forget everything I heard about how you should do it and just record it as I hear it in my head.
I just love orchestral music and most of all strings. I haven’t got time yet to get into that sound design thing. But maybe in the future. I’ll await your next video with great anticipation.

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Aha yeah totally, I absolutely love strings too!! They’re so expressive. Man, I’m a future video I hope to pay for a quartet to play the lead parts for this track so that it can be even more realistic. I’ve already sorted the score for it :smiley: I really want to do this because there’s so much focus on “which string library sounds the best… but there’s literally no substitute for the real thing, and it sounds even better when you have real players mixed in! :smiley: I’m going to do this via Fiver… to see if it’s actually possible to get recordings that way and add them in!!

Until next time my friend.


I have one DO NOT, that is classically trained at least. Do not use parallel 5ths for voice leading! However, I’m a bit like Jack Sparrow, in that I prefer to break rules just because I can hahaha.

But anyway, parallel 5ths in voice leading can be at least a starting point to “think twice about” before using. :slight_smile:


Definitely think twice about that but it’s more of a beginner rule. For instance, parallel 5ths works great for bass lines however, it doesn’t really work as a main line.

Alternatively it occasionally works in certain modes such as Aolian, blues scale and Locrian (though I rarely use Locrian).

This “classical” approach derived from college level composition and is based in the idea that there are certain things you should avoid (at first) to make your life easier. Other rules that are often in-learned as we progress include

  • not doubling the 5th
  • the 7th (leading tone) must always rise
  • suspensions should always be prepared and resolved

There’s a few more which are much more basic. The truth is that all of these can be broken but if you follow them then you are actually making your life a little easier in terms of counterpoint options.

Not sure if any of you are good with reading music but here is a short example. I’ve labelled it as best as I can to show where I broke the rules, and how I rectified it.

Before I start for those who don’t know anything about reading music we are in G major in the example, where the clef on the upper staff curls around the second line, that is G natural, coins up your scale and down the scale from there. The lower staff has a bass clef and it curls around the F (these clefs are also known as G and F clef to make it easier) just count up or down from F. The notes with a line through them are C (also known as ledger lines).

Here’s a simple guide for the note values (I may do a theory lesson on this actually)
These are the only ones I’ve used

First I started with 5ths moving in 4ths. So I can use 5ths but I chose not to let them move in parallel (otherwise the harmony for the perfect cadence in bar 2 wouldn’t work).

I then used an uplrepardd suspension to create some movement between parts while including contrary movement in the alto part (notes with the arrow going down in bar 1)

I then tied the A over which is good practice for separate part writing, I kept the baseline strong by including the tonic on the bottom, so inversions here :stuck_out_tongue:

The 7th is in the Tenor part, this makes the 7th really stand out. If I were to put it in the upper parts it would have bleed out a little more.

Finally thr alto and tenor parts resolve in unison to a D natural which is also a compound 5th…

This is essentially how I would approach avoiding this parallel 5th issue while also keeping it as musical as I could.


I break all those rules you mentioned quite often haha, in fact I think unresolved tension is a great technique to use for effect! :slight_smile:

Btw, I think you should consider using your sheet music skills to demonstrate things in your videos. Either the score view, or even in writing like this. There are few youtube channels that do, and it might be a way to stand out. :slight_smile:


Rules are made to be broken. Haha! :sunglasses:

That is all I have to say :stuck_out_tongue:

But yes I’ll be including this sort of content in the future. I’ll do a notation 101 video first I think so that anyone who comes to my videos will be redirected to that so they understand,


I think if you ever do music theory videos, like let’s say voice leading, showing the parts in the score view can work very well. I’m personally not comfortable at all with reading music in score view, simply because I spent all my years in “the grid”. But since you are proficient in this area, you should at least try to take advantage of that skill! :smiley:


I bought a whiteboard about a month ago which I’m planning on using for theory videos. Logic still isn’t that proficient in having great scores in a preview, even after processing… so i will at least for the future, be avoiding using it for the most part aha.

But I get what you mean about using the piano roll view instead. You can easily fall into the trap of just using that to write. I use both… often when I’m automation a will look at the score to see what’s out of time if I can’t tell in the piano roll.


That was a good tip to use notation in videos. I’m not any good at reading notes myself but I’ve thought about it often to learn it better. Maybe your and @Geoffers videos will be a good inspiration.
Nice video again it will be nice to follow and see how it goes with viewer numbers.


Did you just throw a Welch word in there? :smile:
This is a nice explanation. This type of theory I know and understand, yet more often than not seems to leak out of my head when I’m actually composing. Would be interesting if you did a few vids like this.

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I’m actually the opposite. I prefer looking at the score because at a glance I can see what instruments are playing which exact notes and it does give me a much clearer view how to voice lead etc. or which notes to double/cut. Maybe why my compositions tend to be better when I use Dorico rather than DAW/MIDI :sweat_smile:

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