What you'll learn
- You will be learning from a professional and award-winning composer and orchestrator.
- You will learn about orchestral instruments and their notation, transposition, ranges, register strengths, dynamic capabilities, playing techniques, and more.
- You will learn how to properly prepare a score and parts and tips on how to proof them before publishing or performance.
- You will acquire knowledge of the different types of timbres and textures and how and why to use them.
- You will learn how spacing and voicing is used in orchestral chords and how to score chords for the orchestra and each section.
- You will learn about various instrument combinations, and the different roles each instrument and section plays within the whole.
- You will learn many orchestration tips and techniques to help you in your orchestrations.
- You will learn strategies for reading scores.
- You will study hundreds of score examples, diagrams, and audio clips.
- You will get access to many free external resources.
- You will have your knowledge tested with nearly 1,000 quiz questions.
- You must be able to read music and have a basic understanding of music notation
- You must have a basic understanding of music theory
- You must already have some basic experience in music composition
- You must have "musescore" or some type of music notation software capable of producing orchestral size scores
- Although not a necessity, it is very beneficial if you have some ability to play the piano (or other instrument)
The course is divided into two parts: part 1 is on Instrumentation and part 2 is on Orchestration. Instrumentation is an important and necessary first step since you cannot write for orchestra if you don’t know about the individual instruments of the orchestra.
In part 1 you will learn how each instrument is constructed, how they produce sound, how they are properly notated, their playing and sounding ranges, register characteristics, dynamic capabilities and common playing techniques.
In part 2 you will learn basic concepts for writing for orchestra, including how to create and effectively use different timbres and textures, the best methods for scoring chords, the roles each instrument and section play within the whole, how to properly prepare a score and parts, and how to proof before publishing. The course concludes with an entire section of helpful orchestration tips and techniques. There are also a number of useful reference charts in the appendix.
At key points in the course you will be given score reading assignments, listening assignments, composing assignments, and quizzes.
A vital component to the study of orchestration is score reading, and so throughout the course you will be asked to read scores. There are some score excerpts in the course but the majority of score reading will be done on your own. There is an important reason for this. Taking a course in orchestration is a great start to learning how to write for orchestra but the only way to become truly knowledgeable and skilled in this very complex art form is through a lifetime of score study and through a lifetime of experience gained from actual writing for orchestra. This cannot be emphasized enough.
Note: This is not a music theory course or a music composition course. This course was written for individuals who already have a basic foundation in music theory (including music notation) and music composition. If you need or would like to develop your knowledge in these areas please see the following courses by the instructor.
Music Composition 1
Music Composition 2
Who this course is for:
- Beginning to intermediate level composers and orchestrators
- Composers who want to expand their writing skills into the area of orchestration
- All musicians wanting to learn about instrumentation and orchestration
- People who have had a course in either instrumentation or orchestration but not both and are missing half the picture
Jonathan Peters is an award-winning composer currently residing in the beautiful state of Colorado. Since 1990 he has worked as a composer, conductor, arranger, recording artist, educator and author. He holds a B.A. in liberal arts from Thomas Aquinas College and continued his graduate work towards a M.M. in music composition at California State University Northridge, which included areas of study in advanced composition, theory, orchestration, and film scoring.
Peters’ music has been featured multiple times on NPR’s Peabody award-winning show Performance Today. His works have been performed by orchestras throughout the United States, and have also been performed internationally. He has won multiple awards and recognitions, such as 1st place in the 1996 Composers Today Contest. His 50 plus works include 2 full length operas, a symphony, orchestral works, chamber music, choral pieces, and works for solo piano.
Mr. Peters is the author of the Scholastic Music Series, a collection of educational CDs that use music as a tool to teach various academic subjects. His CD, The Constellations - A Guide to the Orchestra, received the highest starred review from School Library Journal and is carried in libraries throughout the country.
He is also the author of nine books, including six academic books on music and three children’s books with downloadable music. Besides teaching piano privately, he also gives on-line instruction in music theory, music composition, four-part writing, counterpoint, and orchestration. His on-line courses have been taken by tens of thousands of students from over a hundred countries.