, by Dimitris Meletis


More particular if you are a part of the younger generation in the group of emerging media composers, you may have been used to working only in your sequencer, which means clicking and recording in tracks by means of MIDI keyword or piano roll, and worrying whether or not your virtual instrument mix is the best that it can be.

Unfortunately, it is oftentimes the case because having to work with live instruments will become a rare luxury, especially for those who have less experience. Nonetheless, it is essential to take advantage of the opportunity that may come in your way, and that means having the capability to orchestrate and get your work engraved. Orchestration has been a beautiful and wide art. If you want to attain success in working with live musicians, you will have to know how to notate and write for them.

If you are used to working with only sampled instruments, you are most probably lazy in terms of orchestration. Scoring through a virtual ensemble is enabling you to cheat your way into the sound that you want. Getting a great sound would not necessitate adept instrument selection and chords voicing using a virtual ensemble. It only requires the greatest and latest epic ensemble patch along with some extra reverb and volume.

Another thing that musicians and/or music producers cheat about is the balances and levels. With a virtual instrument, a quiet flute may stand out easily above an orchestral accompaniment. On the other hand, with real musicians, the flute is very likely to drown if it is not close to the microphone or otherwise treated. The huge paradigm shift means having an understanding of the limitations and strengths of your sample as compared to the live orchestra.

For instance, live musicians must breathe, but your virtual flautist does not. In addition, for a real ensemble, the divisi elements are also essentially affecting the volume and sound of a section, as you only ever have a set number of players. Splitting them means lesser of them will play every line. Using virtual instruments more often than not split lines let you to stack another full ensemble on for every line and this result in an unnaturally great sound. It is these kinds of things that should be kept in mind.

When it comes to a successful writing for a live ensemble, you need to write in a way that will make the musicians feel like you have written it for them and not for their digitized android breathren. You should make them fun to play, make their parts intuitive and idiomatic, and make them playable, and your musicians will be thankful of you. Furthermore, writing music through a live instrument5 is not about getting your virtual mixes dumbed down. You need to keep in mind that live musicians are definitely more flexible and expressive as compared to the virtual ones.

If you have only ever written music using a virtual ensemble, you will certainly be used to avoiding particular figures and techniques because they are almost not possible to reproduce. For orchestration, your real ensemble will be able to accomplish all the things that should be done in music production, more effectively and beautifully.