Orchestration is a comprehensive guide to the art of writing for orchestra by Paul Mathews, a prominent composer and educator. The book is designed for students and professionals who are looking to improve their understanding of orchestration techniques and the principles that govern orchestral writing.
Structure and Content
The book is divide into 22 chapters, each covering a different aspect of orchestration. The first few chapters provide an overview of the different sections of the orchestra, their characteristics, and the techniques used to write for them. Subsequent chapters delve deeper into specific topics, such as melody, harmony, counterpoint, and texture, with numerous examples from the works of great composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, and Stravinsky.
Mathews takes a highly practical approach to teaching orchestration, providing clear and concise explanations of complex concepts and offering numerous exercises and assignments that allow the reader to put these concepts into practice. He also includes a wealth of musical examples, both in the form of score excerpts and audio examples, that help illustrate the principles he is discussing.
In addition to its focus on the practical aspects of orchestration, the book also provides a valuable historical perspective on the development of orchestration techniques over time. Mathews traces the evolution of orchestral writing from the Baroque period to the present day, highlighting the innovations and techniques developed by key composers in each era.
Strengths One of the strengths of Orchestration is Mathews’ ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and accessible manner. He uses simple language and avoids jargon, making the book accessible to readers with varying levels of musical knowledge. At the same time, he does not shy away from tackling difficult topics, such as orchestration for specific instruments or complex harmonies, providing numerous examples and exercises to help the reader master these techniques.
Another strength of the book is its focus on practical application. Mathews provides numerous exercises and assignments throughout the book, giving readers the opportunity to apply the concepts they have learned and to develop their orchestration skills in a hands-on way. This practical focus makes the book an invaluable resource for students and professionals alike.
Finally, the book’s historical perspective is a valuable addition, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the evolution of orchestration techniques over time. Mathews’ discussion of the work of key composers in each era provides a fascinating glimpse into the development of orchestral writing, and highlights the ongoing relevance of these techniques in contemporary music.
One potential weakness of the book is its focus on Western classical music. While Mathews does touch on some non-Western orchestration techniques, the book is primarily focus on the orchestration techniques use in the Western classical tradition. This may limit the book’s appeal to readers who are interest in other genres of music.
Another potential weakness is the lack of emphasis on contemporary orchestration techniques. While Mathews does touch on some contemporary techniques, such as the use of electronics in orchestration, the book is primarily focus on the techniques use in the classical tradition. This may limit the book’s relevance to readers who are interest in contemporary orchestral writing.
Overall, Orchestration is an excellent resource for anyone looking to improve their understanding of orchestration techniques and principles. Mathews’ clear and accessible writing style, combined with his practical focus and historical perspective, make the book a valuable addition to any musician’s library. While it may not be ideal for readers interest in non-Western or contemporary orchestration techniques, it remains an essential resource for anyone looking to master the art of writing for orchestra.