Writing a track in the style of classic composers - series 2 episode 1

Hey Everyone!

Here’s a new series where I’ll take you through writing a Golden age style piece of music. Today we look at my process in coming up with the track and developing a Piano reduction. Lots and lots of information in this one and I’ve just sped up the video when I’m doing the boring stuff :smiley:


All of the John’s :relaxed:


It’s what I call a “loose” script :sweat_smile: lol


“In a studio far far away” :sweat_smile: nice star wars effect. great video its entertaining and witty but still offers information.


Thank you Carl! I really appreciate that. It’s hard to find the balance sometimes and I knew this was going to be a heavy (loaded) Video. I’m glad you found things that interested you.

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Yeah, looking forward to see how you orchestrate this. Other than extrapolating the notes out, I just don’t get doing a piano reduction. I know everyone does it, but when I write, I already hear the particular instrumentation for a part so I just go right into it. If I were to just put my ideas down with the piano, I think I’d lose them! unless I’m using the piano in particular :smile: I know it’s harder that way. Guess I’m a weird one.

Since I’m doing a Golden Age of Hollywood suite myself right now, I’m really interested to see how you orchestrate this and what the final product will be. Dorico messed up on me last night, so I had to rescore everything that I had thus far :cry: I think it’s sounding real descent so far, but had a blip with some of the harmony; bit of a diminished or augmented thingy I did. But as usual, playing Shining Resonance and listening to the score, which had that classic Japanese “Golden Age” sound I thought I might need to rethink my piece :thinking:

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Great to hear it’s going ok and your working things out that work for you.

I think using a piano reduction works well for certain applications. Usually I’d do it the way you are saying for underscore stuff or certain underscore parts of the piece, but for this it’s so much more beneficial to use a piano reduction as you’ll always have your original idea above too. I’d be lying if I said it feels natural to do it like this… it isn’t. However, it opens up many different aspects of composing and getting better sounding parts.

I think the most important thing with piano reductions is to keep them simple. This is extremely simple at the moment… it’s just a framework. In the next video you will see that I will have probably changed part of the arrangement before I start orchestrating… and that in itself is the key thing. Compartmentalising the processes will increase your productivity and your arrangements will be ten times better because your able to edit the piece in its entirety before orchestration. So I’d highly recommend adding the extra step into the process, just for those reasons alone. I may expand on this on the next video… or even just do a video about work flow.

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Did you really say:
“we have a horn(y) idea here, we will write a sountrack with horns?” :smiley: :smiley:

Anyway, another great and helpful video!
I also liked the timelapes in there.
Well Done Geoff.

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I totally get the reasoning for it. I wish I could do it that way to speed up the process and see where everything should go. But, when I get an idea, say, I hear a melody idea and I know it should be in the horns, I go put it in the horns! I hear a run in the violins, I go put it in the violins! I just work things out from there. It’s harder, most definitely. Mozart I am not.

Anyway, I’d liked to see how your orchestration choices match up with mine. I still struggle in that area ( am I doubling too much/not enough/with the right instruments? Do you use order of register/overlap/enclosure? etc.)

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Yeah totally get that :smiley: as I think I said in the video, it’s a preference thing.

You’ll see in the next video how I approach orchestration, but essentially your not only thinking of register, but your also thinking about timbre and how that sound is going to reinforce the sound already.

I think the reinforcement thing is especially important. The science behind it is that each instrument will produce the same notes… but the reason they sound different is because they produce different harmonic variants after the fundamental. So a good example of “bad ish” reinforcement would be to pair two instruments with similar harmonic content… this would mainly just make the sound louder. But when you pair two very contrasting instruments together you get it louder, but the stereo field widens, the range broadens and you also get harmonic excitement from mixing the sounds with the bud reverb, making the sound thicker.

Bad doubling might be using two types of flutes for example. You’d just get a louder and possibly fatter sound… but the part would still be masked by the rest of the orchestra. This is why flutes are often doubled by either clarinets or oboes, because the harmonics are opposing and that means that the top end cuts through more… making the instruments more complimentary.

Then you’ll also have typical doubling s such as bass instruments, melodies and tuned percussion. These are the straightforward orchestration techniques.

There’s literally so much you can talk about with orchestration so I’ll be coming back to this over and over, just to show as much as I can.

Haha I totally overseen your message there Michael!

I did say that yes :laughing: perhaps it’s the juvenile in me, but I still find puns like that amusing

Really glad you liked it and I apologise for the slight mess ups in video recording as my computer froze in the recording. These things happen and I didn’t want to not use it as it was a live recording for a reason :smiley:

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