I want to transcode (perhaps arrange a small amount) an orchestral piece for a wind band. are there standard instrument maps from one to the other? any Dorico tips to help?
I don’t know of any automatic way to transcribe from orchestra to wind band. But you can easily change instruments by control-clicking or right-clicking an instrument in Setup mode, in the area I’ve circled red.
Thank you Stephen, that’s very helpful. An orchestra typically has strings, flutes, woodwinds, horns, brass, percussion etc whereas a wind band has flutes, saxes, horns, brass, clarinets, percussion etc. I’m trying to find a way to map orchestral instruments on to wind band instruments without overloading say flutes or clarinets which can take the roles of first violins etc.
I do this kind of thing quite a bit and it really becomes an exercise in orchestration. Keep in mind that the modern wind band (except for maybe a professional group) is not going to have the same orchestral instruments available like double reeds except for Oboe and Bassoon. And generally there is one player only on these instruments. If the clarinets are in A it’s best to transpose them to Bb, same for Trumpet in C. The biggest difference is going to be the addition of Saxophones. I generally add 2 Alto Sax, 2 Tenor Sax and a Bari Sax. If I end up not needing the 2nd Alto or Tenor I can easily delete them later. I also add a string bass part which is usually doubled by the Contrabass Clarinet (Bb) and a Bass Clarinet (Bb) if there is not one already. Bass Clarinet and Tenor Sax can cover a lot of the Cello parts as long as they are not too demanding. I usually add bass trombone and Euphonium (B.C.) as well to the brass.
In short: A windband is like a symphony-orchestra, but the string-section is replaced by groups of clarinets: (Eb-clarinet (1), 1.clarinets (group). 2.clarinets (group), 3.clarinets (group), Alto-clarinet (1 - sometimes), Bass-clarinet (1)). - And then pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons. Groups of 1. and 2. trumpet, 1 and 2. Cornet, 2-4 Horns, 3 trombones and bass-trombone, euphonium and/or tenor, tuba and a lot of percussion. And often a single doublebass. - That’s the full windband.
But there are a lot of variations - especially in amateur- or school-bands. And there is no reciept for transscribing (example: transfer the notated material from a violin to a clarinet). You have to arrange - make changes that reflect the possibilities and nature of THAT instrument. But the windband has so many colours that you actually may become a sound-painter.
Advice: Look in scores. Study.
Good luck. I have loved this job for dozens of years.
Arne Dich. www.dichmusik.dk
Well said. It really is about the “color” of the sound you are trying to produce.
Thanks Kevin, that’s very helpful and full of the kind of tips that I’m looking for. I’ve played in large 100+ quality orchestras and the wind band is 40+ players including all the instruments you mention above. The orchestral piece has the usual range of instruments with motifs by trumpets, flutes and percussions (please bear with me as I hold back from naming the work). I think you’re suggesting that I map violin 1 onto clarinets rather than flutes and take it from there with everything else “falling into place”. If that’s the case what role would you give flutes. Thanks for all your help.
Thanks Dich - perhaps I should have read your tips before replying and asking more of Kevin - the two of you are clearly “wise and experienced heads!”. That’s where I want to start i.e. with anchoring the strings and then mapping out from there fully cognizant of the sound and effect. Some of our sections are top heavy with players compared with your full windband complement above and can add to other sections. What role would you give a larger set of flutes? - yes you’re absolutely right that one needs to become a sound-painter using many colours. I have Frank Erickson’s book on arranging for a concert band as well as Joseph Wagner’s book on Band Scoring. Thanks
The flutes are basically the violin section of the wind band, unless the range is too low or high (this is where the piccolo can help) of course. Think of what is technically possible to do on a Flute versus a Violin. Violin players are not worried about breathing for example so repetitive passages are easier and not as tiring. Try to keep most ranges in the norm and not extreme. Sometimes the lower range of the Flute can be very powerful if used correctly but will not be heard if overpowered by other sections. Clarinets and Saxes are great for the mid string sections but also have technical limitations. There really is no “just copy this part to that part”, except maybe some brass.
Here is a familiar piece transcribed for band. I would get ahold of the orchestral score (free download from the IMSLP website), print it out, and as you’re listening, make notes on the various details of the transcription.
Here is another:
And yet another:
Concert-Band is maybe the correct name for the full band. There are so many windy bands on schools ´r with amateurs with too many flutes and no bassoons etc.
Flutes have very few high partials and therefore their low register are not heard through a thick instrumentation. So they are good only for the higher violin notes.
Clarinets have only every second partial in their sound, but all naturals are very strong. And they have an enormous register and can play in the same octaves as both 1. and 2. violin and most of the viola notes.
Oboes are best for violin notes from D-C = 2 octaves.
Bassoon can play all violoncello notes - but have to breathe sometimes.
And so on.
If you have too many flutes and not so many basses it often is possible to transpose the viola-notes one octave up. But the viola-octave must be represented somewhere. And you can hear the result in Dorico by only listen to flutes alone. Another possibility is to transpose all violins an octave higher, or transpose 2. Violin up higher than The 1. Violin And at The same time let another, strong instrument also play 1, violin part.
(A piano playing the bass-line and something from the viola or some of the chords can help in smaller bands.) And never be scared for making changes/adjustments : if a couple of notes are too high or low - change them inside the chords but be aware that the deleted chord-note is represented in another part if it is important. And if there are too many fast 16-ths the make one or two to 8-ths.
There are many possible tricks depending on the bandmembers.
A composer writes “the music from his imagination” for specific instruments. The musical idea has to live in another context with another sound. With the necessary adjustments. Many of the greatest composers have done that before us. Give it a try and good luck and please forgive me my many words.
Yours Arne Dich
You also have to be careful of what key the music is in. You don’t want to take an orchestral piece in D and transcribe it for band into the same key. Wind instruments do not like sharp keys, especially the clarinets and saxs.
Excellent tips Kevin - I’ll have to find some map of the ranges of each instrument - can you direct me to one by any chance?
Thanks Notesetter - nice works which illustrate points.
Thanks Dich - we have excellent players pulling others up to their standards. That’s an excellent tutorial on items to consider, work around and incorporate. Not many words - I value each one - I will carry luck with me and try and find ways around obstacles I know I shall encounter because I know it’s a bit of a challenge so I’m organizing myself well before I embark on this.
Excellent points 8Babe - and I’m trying to find the range of all orchestra and band voices. I’m going to try and transcode which will mean some arranging for 33 (5 percussion) orchestral voices to a concert band.
Hi. I Schall later send You charts of instrument range.
Here’s a good reference for instruments.
Instrument Reference Chart v4.pdf (190.4 KB)
gold dust! thanks