Orchestration 1

Author: Ben Newhouse | Course Code: OCWPR-365

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Learn to write and apply traditional orchestration techniques to both sampled performances and live orchestral performances.

Orchestration skills are an increasingly hot commodity. Placement on television, in video games and animation, and other modern revenue outlets require a detailed understanding of orchestral writing and production techniques. In this 12-week course, students will learn traditional orchestration techniques as well as emerging issues specific to today's technology. The course begins by covering the technological considerations required to create modern day orchestral sounds: sample libraries, sequencing techniques, and different types of hardware set ups. From there, students will learn the characteristics and idiomatic writing techniques for each orchestral instrument family: strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion, as well as approaches for writing for full orchestra.

The course allows students to use the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) program of their choice, including Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase, SONAR, or Pro Tools, and a sample library such as East West, Kontakt, or Vienna. By the end of the course, students will have the knowledge to orchestrate music and apply this knowledge to both digital and live orchestral performances. This course also provides the next step in practical skill development for students in our Arranging programs, by adding the concept of orchestration using a sample library.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

understand and apply traditional orchestration techniquesanalyze orchestral scoressequence music for every section of the orchestracreate a full-length piece for full orchestra

Lesson 1: Technological Considerations

Samples, Samplers, MIDI, and SequencersSoftware Installation and TroubleshootingSignal Flow in a MIDI Orchestration StudioHardware Installation and TroubleshootingHow Sampling Patches Are ConstructedCreating Dynamics in Your SequenceOn-VelocityVolumeExpressionDynamic Layers and ModulationDynamics SummaryWorking With DynamicsThe Two Rules of MIDI Orchestration

Lesson 2: Musical Considerations

Orchestral SizesHistorical Use of Orchestral ResourcesClefsTranspositionThe ScoreMultiple Parts and StavesCover PageTransposed and C ScoresThe PartNotation ProgramsThe Overtone Series

Lesson 3: String Writing I

Instruments and Their RangesInstrument IdentificationOpen StringsNotating String PreferencesDouble-StopsViable Triple and Quadruple Stop TriadsSample Types: SustainedSample Types: TremeloSample Types: StaccatoSample Types: PizzicatoSample Types: Crescendo and DiminuendoSample Types: TrillSample Types: RunsSample Types: ArticulationsSample Types: Additional SamplesCombining Samples: AlternatingCombining Samples: Key SwitchesCombining Samples: LayeringAcoustic Bowing TechniquesBowing and DynamicsChoosing BowingsSequencing ImplicationsAdditional Playing TechniquesReconciling Acoustic Playing Techniques and Sample Types

Lesson 4: String Writing II

4-Part Writing5-Part WritingDoubling and Divisi WritingSequencing Divisi PartsIntro to Mozart's 40th SymphonyPresenting MelodyViolinViolaCelloBassOctave DoublingsVoicing ChordsHarmonic TreatmentHarmonic ArrangementIncorporating Solo Strings

Lesson 5: Brass Writing I

Brass Section IntroductionsInstrument RangesThe HornThe TrumpetThe TromboneThe Bass TromboneThe TubaSample TypesSample Type: SustainedSample Type: StaccatoSample Types: Crescendo and DiminuendoSample Types: ArticulationsSample Types: Additional SamplesCombining Samples: AlternationCombining Samples: LayeringDynamicsSequencing DynamicsBrass Melodic PresentationHorn MelodyTrumpet MelodyTrombone MelodyBrass MutesTrumpet and Trombone MutesTuba and Horn Mutes

Lesson 6: Brass Writing II

Brass Section Size and SubgroupingAcoustic ArticulationsBrass ArticulationsGlissandiChordal VoicingsBad VoicingsUsing Brass for Harmonic SupportUsing Brass to Create a ClimaxThe Brass FanfareBrass and String Combinations

Lesson 7: Woodwind Writing I

Woodwind BackgroundWoodwind RangesThe PiccoloThe FluteThe OboeThe English HornThe BassoonThe ContrabassoonThe ClarinetThe Bass ClarinetCommon Sample TypesSample Type: StaccatoSample Type: TrillsSample Type: RunsSample Types: Crescendo and DiminuendoSample Types: Legato ArticulationsSample Types: Repetition ArticulationsAcoustic ArticulationsWoodwind SolosWoodwind Solo: FluteWoodwind Solo: OboeWoodwind Solo: English HornWoodwind Solo: ClarinetWoodwind Solo: Bassoon

Lesson 8: Woodwind Writing II

Woodwind DoublingsDoubling to Create a Unique Tone ColorDoubling to Create GrowthDoubling to Create a ClimaxDoubling Woodwinds with Brass and StringsWoodwind Chordal VoicingsCreating BlendChord Tone SpacingCounterlinesTextural FlourishesRunsUsing Woodwind RunsRestatementHarmonic ArpeggiationHarmonic Support

Lesson 9: Percussion Writing I

Instrument CategorizationSnare DrumBass DrumTambourineAdditional Nonpitched IdiophonesPitched MembranophonesWriting for TimpaniXylophoneMarimbaGlockenspielTubular BellsHarpNotating Pedal PositionsEnharmonic SpellingsGlissandiHarmonicsKeyboardsCelestaAdditional Pitched Percussion Instruments

Lesson 10: Percussion Writing II

Notation ConsiderationsNotating A Snare PartPercussion UsesAccent HighlightsHarmonic SupportBuilds and ClimaxesDynamic ExtremesSolo StatementsDoubling for ColorAdding Percussion Climaxes

Lesson 11: Expansions of the Orchestral Sound

Expanding the Orchestra with Choir and Ethnic InstrumentsUsing Choir Samples to Create GrandeurChoir PartsEthnic InstrumentsDrum LoopsSaxophonesGuitarOverdubbing Soloists

Lesson 12: Full Ensemble Orchestration

Foreground, Middleground, Background IForeground, Middleground, Background IIForeground, Middleground, Background IIIFull Piece Listening and Analysis

Ben Newhouse


Ben Newhouse has worked as a music supervisor and composer on dozens of television shows, films, and stage productions for media corporations including ABC, FOX, MTV, and Disney. He has arranged movie themes, sixties pop music, Broadway shows, and scored for several full-length feature films using Digital Performer.

In addition, as an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, he taught music technology and production and authored the book, "Producing Music with Digital Performer," which is a required textbook at Berklee and other music schools.

As a composer during his college years at Eastman School of Music where he received his bachelor of music degree, his music was performed primarily by Eastman groups and groups along the East Coast. "Heat", a relentless overture for orchestra, received the Howard Hanson Award in the late 90s and was premiered by the Eastman School Symphonic Orchestra.

Presently, in addition to pursuing a MBA in Entertainment from USC Marshall School of Business, Ben works as a freelance music composer and post-production specialist for the music industry in Los Angeles, Boston and New York City.

Learn more about Ben Newhouse at www.bennewhousemusic.com

Phillip Sheeran


In his 30-year music career, Phil Sheeran has been a composer, a guitarist, and a recording/mixing engineer, but composing and producing world music–inspired compositions has always been the heartbeat of his work. Phil established himself as a renowned Brazilian-Latin jazz guitarist, co-leading the Seattle-based Brazilian jazz group Beija Flor with vocalist Samia Panni. Phil has recorded 10 CDs (internationally released) and two Latin House Club Mix LPs. His albums have hit No. 17 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart and charted top five in the nation for airplay. On the jazz side, he has shared the stage with Bela Fleck, Andy Narell, Greg Karukas, and worked in the recording studio with Tommy Brieklein, Brandon Fields, Harvey Mason, and Brazilian musicians Nico Asumpçao and Carlos Goméz, just to name a few. He has also received NAMA nominations for Best Jazz Artist, Best Jazz Recording, and Best Electric Guitarist.

Phil works in Los Angeles, arranging and orchestrating compelling, edgy music for film trailers, television, and multimedia projects. His work can be found in numerous productions by Miramax/Disney, A&E, Fox Sports, Warner Bros Entertainment, Sci-Fi, Biography, MTV, and Telepictures. He holds a BFA in music from Cornish College of the Arts. He is trained in classical and jazz studies with Gary Peacock (bass), Ralph Towner, and David Burgess (guitar), as well as composition/orchestration, arranging, and performance. He studied extensively with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo in Rio de Janeiro.

Marc Jovani


Marc Jovani is an active composer and acoustic engineer. He graduated from the University of Southern California's Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program and was taught by, among others, Bruce Broughton, Christopher Young, Jack Smalley, and Eric Schmidt. One week before finishing the program, he was hired to compose the music for the feature film The Perfect Student starring Natasha Henstridge. From then on, Jovani has been working on dozens of projects, ranging from TV shows (NBC, Fox) to films (Tom Skerritt) and trailers. His music has been recorded by orchestras in Warner Bros, East West, and other studios in Hollywood. As an acoustic engineer, Jovani has built and designed the acoustical treatment for different rooms such as David Buckley's and at Wavecrest Studios (Harry Gregson-Williams).

Recently, Jovani joined forces with a team of musicians and filmmakers to create a production company based in both Los Angeles and Spain, which keeps him busy working on both continents.

For more information on Marc Jovani, visit:


D. J. Sparr


D. J. Sparr recently completed his tenure as the 2011-2014 Young American Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony. The San Jose Mercury News described his work as "shimmers and moves in waves, turns iridescent and wondrous…grows, pulses, leaps to its pop-Romantic apex and ends like a lullaby." His music has been commissioned and performed by groups such as the Albany Symphony, the Berkshire Symphony, Cabrillo Festival of New Music, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Eighth Blackbird, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles 'Debut' Orchestra, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Washington National Opera. Sparr was awarded the grand prize in the orchestra category of the BMG/Williams College National Young Composers Competition and has received awards and recognition from BMI, the American Music Center, Eastman School of Music, George Washington University, the League of Composers/ISCM, and New Music USA. He holds composition degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM) and the University of Michigan (DMA).

Students must have an intermediate competency in the sequencing program they plan to use in the course. Prior to taking the course, students must be able to record multiple tracks in their sequencing software and create an MP3 of the final mix. Students should also have a basic ability to read music, including treble and bass clef.


PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionSequencing program. Viable sequencing programs include Digital Performer, Logic Pro, Cubase, SONAR, and Pro Tools.Sampling library, such as Kontakt, any Vienna Symphonic Library, East West Quantum Leap, or Garritan collection.Notation software such as Finale or Sibelius (full version) is recommended. Students who can produce scores in their sequencing (DAW) software or by hand can use their current technique.
Pentium 4 3.0GHz, Windows XP SP2 or Vista, sound card with ASIO drivers2 GB RAMDVD drive
OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAMDVD drive


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Next Term Starts June 27

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  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
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    $1,200 + $25

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