The downside of the orchestration book is that many of the examples cited are Download ebook for iPad: Trait de lorchestration by Charles Koechlin Posted by . It seems likely that Diaghilev may have eventually asked Koechlin to complete his score and show it to him, for he put the finishing touches to the orchestration of. Orchestration handbooks and the written register of musical praxis In fact, what we ordinarily designate as “vowel” is the resulting combination of these traits. . In the following excerpt of his Traité de l’orchestration, Charles Koechlin points.

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Timbre tone colour is usually regarded as a non-finite inventory. This issue remains problematic since the semiotic point of view taken into account considers pitch and rhythm as the distinctive elements of the melody, other parameters behaving as non-distinctive traits, e.

Therefore, a given melody can be manifested by any timbre without losing its purely formal identity. The analyzed material was extracted from the verbal descriptions of timbre as presented in orchestration and instrumentation handbooks. This hypothesis can be corroborated by additional evidences of similar phenomena found in the grammatical system of natural languages as well as in its discursive praxis.

It is expected that the arguments presented in this article can contribute to the discussion about a semiotic approach to timbre. Its theoretical background provides a considerable heuristic potential largely acknowledged by the linguistic research in the fields of both grammar and discourse.

The second one concerns the key role of usage in the selection of timbre for song arrangements. It also discusses why musical genres are always performed with a certain established instrumental setting despite the virtually infinite possible combinations.

In the present work, we argue that timbre is an usage element in itself regardless its manifestation in specific musical genres. Formulated in these terms, the issue unveils its convergence with Carmo Jr. The second group comprises tempo, dynamics and timbre, as shown below in the tables 1 and 2 extracted from Carmo Jr. Relational net of schema categories: Relational net of usage categories: At the schema level, there are no combination constraints.

orchestration books – Orchestration – Composition – Instruments – FORUMS – Vienna Symphonic Library

At this point, we can make a comparison with the vowel system of natural languages, which can be organized in a similar relational web according to its distinctive traits.

In this regard, it seems likewise reasonable to consider a musical note as a combination of pitch, duration and loudness. At the usage level, asymmetries are immediately noticeable, specially what concerns timbre.

It is widely orcheshration that this category cannot be analyzed in terms of binary dependencies. On the other hand, it still remains hard to draw clear boundaries of this category.

O timbre parece um limiar dentro do sistema. In this respect, this set would include the open category of timbre labeled according to the source instrument. Expanded relational web of usage categories: While the three first behave as a closed category, timbre seems to be an open category.

At this point, a comparison with the distinction between grammatical and lexical morphemes in natural languages koeclhin be drawn, whereas finite classes tend to control open classes cf. In order to argue for this approach, we have collected and analyzed excerpts from instrumentation and orchestration handbooks, as they register collective judgments about the musical praxis of a given socio-historical context.

Charles Koechlin ()

Thus, a real descriptive exhaustivity can barely be expected. When a wider range of instruments is covered, the description becomes less detailed and is occasionally reduced to a mere index of musical objects.

Conversely, when the description provides more specific details, the set of described instruments becomes considerably reduced. This limitation to the orchestratioh canonical instruments works as an ambivalent argument to legitimate the choice for this material. In a few words, what lies beneath such descriptions is the documentation of which possible combinations of pitch, duration and loudness are considered as ordinary or unusual for each instrument. To the instrumentalist and the musicologist, such details regarding the performance plays a major role.


To the semiotician, it suffices to recognize the enunciative marks produced by the instruments and left in the enunciate. The same caution is also valid to the instrument, kochlin matters rather for its corresponding timbre than for its mechanical construction itself. For the purposes of this work, we will hence regard timbre orchestraation a discursive figure cf. This analytical choice can be justified by an analogy with the descriptions of natural languages.

It is widely known that linguists should not use normative grammar and writing style guides in order to describe a given language, since such works do not correspond to the actual state of the language.

Instead, it is necessary to determine a data set extracted from authentic linguistic material. In this case, the description should outline the rules lying at the schema level. When a prescriptive grammar rejects the use of a certain form in favor of another one, it registers a valuation of these forms. According to the threefold division of the Saussurian parole proposed by Hjelmslevpp. In orchestraion cases, the object of analysis is beyond the schema level.

In artistic praxis, this gap may be even larger than that one stated in the linguistic field. Nevertheless, this approach can give us helpful hints to understand how timbre traiy be described from a semiotic point of view. In other words, we can speak of a selection when a member orchewtration a category presupposes a term of another category, but the opposite does not necessarily apply. Giving an example used by Hjelmslev himself, the Latin preposition sine requires the ablative case, whereas the ablative does traut always require this preposition Hjelmslev,pp.

We will present here at least one example of each possible selection. Rather than giving an exhaustive description of one or another instrument, koechllin intend to demonstrate how these treatises provide evidences for the constraints between timbre and pitch, loudness and note duration. The analyzed sample was limited for practical reasons. Nonetheless, one shall not infer that the validity of these data is restricted to these authors.

As the aesthetic domain is rather circumscribed to the occidental music, a high ioechlin of convergence between different works on this subject can be presumed.

After giving the most general information, the authors usually present the instrument range. In other words, this constraint between categories states that, except for few cases like the organ and sound synthesizers, a given timbre cannot manifest the whole pitch range available. Even if the selection between pitch and timbre is evident in any instrument description, we would like to show a concrete evidence of such a constraint. Cases like this occur more evidently in wind instruments.

But whereas the clarino player was admittedly a high register specialist, the orchestra trumpeter of today kpechlin expected to be at his best in the medium part of the range. It would be folly of him to weaken this more valuable aspect of trumpet playing for the sake of extending his range upward. It is not reasonable to ignore that some instruments have a considerable expanded pitch range, like timpani, Glockenspiel, chimes among others.

However, this capability is rather limited to most of the percussion instruments like membranophones and unpitched idiophones, which cannot match the strings and the wind instruments in this matter. Due to their short note duration, the percussion instruments require a ordhestration amount of speed. Likewise, such a orchestratikn also led to the exclusion of the harpsichord from the modern orchestra. During the baroque era and even in some of the early Haydn symphonies, the harpsichord was always present in the orchestra to realize the continuo parts.

When the orchestra expanded and the style changed this instrument was no longer needed as an integral part of the ensemble; because of its relatively small sound, it was replaced by the piano.

Due to its sluggish reaction time, the pipe organ performs poorly in fast runs. It requires a minimum amount of duration, as stated by Charles Koechlin in the excerpt below. In his handbook, Piston explains why such instruments cannot achieve good results in fast phrases, as we quote below. Theoretically, anything playable on the bassoon is playable on the contrabassoon, but the slow vibrations and inertia of the large instrument prevent anything approaching nimbleness or easy agility.


A certain clumsy impression is inevitable. The staccato is dry and heavy.

Charles Koechlin

Faster repeated tonguing is difficult because of the slow response of the air column. Due to such transformations, this kind of constraints is more easily found in instruments used in ancient and baroque music. With the volume increase caused by the growth of the European orchestras as well as the technical improvement of the instruments, these instruments were gradually overcome throughout history.

Its presence in the modern orchestra has been rather restricted due to its weak sound projection as well as its limited range of dynamic variations. Although the ordhestration was frequently used in combination with other instruments during the Baroque period generally to supply the realized figured bassits appearances in the modern orchestra have been few. One problem is the fact that its tone is so light as to be easily covered by other instruments orrchestration easily lost in a large hall.

In our days, they are still widely present in the plucked strings i. A clear example of longstanding and successful combination of timbre and soft dynamics is the harp: Interestingly, the same feature taken as a flaw in an orchestra e.

The following excerpt registers the loudness limitation of the guitar, making it more adequate to performances in closed places and smaller ensembles.

Besides instruments with rough dynamics control e. The full dynamic power of the brass is a dominating force capable of obliterating the sound of the rest of orcheztration orchestra, and it is often allowed to do so by conductors lacking either authority or discrimination. The limit of loudness and tone-weight of strings and woodwinds is a physical fact.

Forcing them to compete with the brass simply results in disagreeable sounds, with the brass still far in the lead. Such constraints result in an asymmetrical set of semiotic units, which manifest concretely as sounds and characterizes the prototypical physiognomy of each timbre. Speaking in terms of semiotic modes of existence cf. However, some combinations are rarely attested in the actualized and realized modes.

In other words, these configurations occur rather rarely with certain timbres, even if they are predicted. We can consider three different sound events: Regardless of further variables such as aesthetic preferences or composition rules, a given listener will evaluate these events as ordinary if manifested respectively in the timbre of a soprano, a trumpet and a snare drum.

However, if we swap these timbres respectively for a child voice, a harpsichord and an organ, these sound events will be evaluated rather as unusual or extraordinary. Before we discuss in more depth what it means in semiotic terms, we would like to showcase more complex examples of selection, i. Discussing how the potential of human voice can be explored at best, Charles Koechlin points an interesting fact out about its difficulty in performing long notes in the high register.

The same effect applies also to the pizzicati in the bowed strings, whereas a severe speed limitation is identified in the low registers.

One of the most canonical examples is the so-called chalumeau register of the clarinet. To some extent, this is a specification of the same phenomenon observed above in the harpsichord and the acoustic guitar. For these, the constraint of loudness applies to the whole pitch range, whereas it applies only to a specific segment of the range in other instruments. Even though they have a considerable dynamic versatility, it is not distributed equally in the whole pitch range.

The western concert flute is a clear example of this asymmetry and how it gives a peculiar character to its timbre. The following excerpt taken from Charles Koechlin illustrates well this aspect:.