February 24, 2016

The Woodwind Choir: Bassoons

Alright everyone! Get ready 'cause it's time to drop the...
                                                           
XD Yes, I amuse myself, but seriously now, let's talk about orchestrating for the bassoon.

Unlike the other woodwind families, the bassoon family has only two instruments, the bassoon and the contrabassoon. Since both instruments have a double reed and a conical bore, you could think of the bassoon a bit like a bass oboe. Like the oboe, the bassoon can play both beautiful lyrical passages and incisive staccatos. However, the bassoon's tone is much mellower and less nasal than the oboe's, and the bassoon can be easily overshadowed by other instruments in an ensemble.

Bassoon:

  • Range:
    • Bb1-Eb5 (sounds as written)
    • Written in bass and tenor clefs
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • Bb1-G2: Sonorous, dark, vibrant
      • This is where the bassoon really shines
    • A2-D4: Sweet and expressive but mellow and more subdued
    • E4-Bb4: Thin but intense
    • B4-Eb5: Thin and pinched
  • Considerations:
    • Single tonguing is the standard and can be performed very quickly
      • Double and triple tonguing are rarely called for but a few players can do it
    • Upward slurs and large upward skips can be performed easily, but downward slurs and skips can be difficult 
    • Most trills are effective but the following should be avoided:
      • Any trills above C5 except for: 
        • C#5-D5 
        • D5-Eb5
        • Eb5-E5 (if the instrument has an extra E key)
      • A#1-B1
      • Bb1-C2
      • B1-C2
      • C2-D2
      • C#2-D2
      • C#2-D#2 (some instruments have a special trill key to make this trill possible)
    • In orchestral writing, their are usually two bassoons with a contrabassoon doubling


Contrabassoon:
  • Range: 
    • Written range: Bb1-Bb4
    • Sounding range: Bb0-Bb3
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • Use for the lower register
    • The high register just sounds like a weak bassoon
  • Considerations
    • Can perform all the same techniques as the bassoon, but the articulation is speaks more slowly due to the instrument's large size
      • This can give the impression of clumsiness which has been often exploited by composers
    • Sustained tones can act as a lovely foundational organ drone due to the buzzing tone and slow vibrations
    • Legato and staccato are both effective
    • Staccato is difficult to execute quickly and should be avoided
    • Often acts as a great double for bassoons, basses, or cellos

That's it for the bassoons. If I missed anything or got anything wrong, let me know in the comments below. I hope this helped you. Happy composing and tune in next time for the strings!

February 10, 2016

Orchestration - The Woodwind Choir - Saxophones

Alright, so I've taken a pretty long break from updating this series on Orchestration. Sorry about that; I'm going to try to get back on track with my posting schedule. Now, let's get down to business discussing the saxophone, arguably the "saxiest" family in the woodwind choir. *wink wink nudge nudge*

The saxophone family consists of the Eb sopranino sax, the Bb soprano sax, the Eb alto sax, the Bb tenor sax, the Eb baritone sax, and the Bb bass sax. Like clarinets, saxophones are transposing instruments that all have basically the same written range and fingering system. Also like clarinets, all of the instruments in the saxophone family have an incredibly homogenous sound. However, the saxophone is slightly different from the clarinet and other woodwinds because it is made of brass, which gives it a unique and powerful sound and allows it to stand out from the rest of the woodwind choir. The saxophone can easily overpower other woodwinds and such combinations should be approached with great care. Unfortunately, my notes on the registral characteristics and technical abilities of the saxophone are quite sparse (I must not have been paying good attention that day), so I strongly suggest you check out the saxophone section of Indiana U's Instrument Studies for Eyes and Ears. It should help to make up anything that my own notes are missing.

For All Saxes:

  • Written Range: Bb3-G6
    • Sounding Ranges:
      • Eb Sopranino Sax: Db4-Bb6 (sounds a minor 3rd above written)
      • Bb Soprano Sax: Ab3-F6 (sounds a major 2nd below written)
      • Eb Alto Sax: Db3-Bb5 (sounds a major 6th below written)
      • Bb Tenor Sax: Ab2-F5 (sounds a major 9th below written)
      • Eb Baritone Sax: Db2-Bb4 (sounds a major 13th below written)
      • Bb Bass Sax: Ab1-F4 (sounds 2 octave and a major 2nd below written)
  • Registral Characteristics (of written range): 
    • B3-D4: Difficult to play softly
    • D4-D6: Easier to control, capable of beautiful nuance
    • D6-G6: Difficult to play softly
    • It's conical shape gives it an overall warmer and mellower sound than the cylindrical woodwinds
  • Considerations:
    • Doesn't blend easily with other woodwinds, may be best to use as a solo or melody instrument in woodwind ensembles
    • Players generally use separate sounds depending on the musical genre and context
      • Jazz: Very emotional
        • sweet, sentimental, full of vibrato 
        • Raucous and brassy
      • Orchestral: less vibrato, more dynamically controlled
    • The most popularly used is the alto sax but the others are generally available
    • There is an F sopranino sax if you need higher notes, but it's rare (and I don't have any notes on it besides this)
    • If doubling, give your player time to switch instruments
    • Some saxophonists can go above the written range into what is called the altissimo register. Be careful about writing up there and ask your saxophonist first
    • The lower instruments in the family require more air than the upper ones, make sure you give them plenty of places to breathe
    • Louder dynamics require more air as well
    • The tonguing is very similar to the clarinet
      • Double tonguing is possible and is becoming more common, but short bursts of very fast single tonguing is easier 
    • Niente attacks are very effective but are difficult to achieve in the lowest and highest registers
    • Can execute the same special techniques as the other woodwinds but the glissandi, growl, and slap tonguing are especially effective


That's is for the saxophones. I hope this helped you. As always, if I got anything wrong or missed anything, let me know in the comments below and tune in next time for the bassoons!

September 11, 2015

Orchestration - The Woodwind Choir - Clarinets

I really wanted to start this post with a joke, but there just aren't any good clarinet jokes. If you think you can prove me wrong on that, go ahead and leave your awesome clarinet joke in the comments. Now, on to the meat of the matter...

The clarinet family consists of the D piccolo clarinet, the Eb piccolo clarinet, the Bb clarinet, the A clarinet, the Eb alto clarinet, the basset horn, the Bb bass clarinet, and the Bb contrabass clarinet. The clarinets are transposing instruments that all have basically the same written range and fingering system. They also have the most homogeneous sound of all the woodwinds and can play at any dynamic no matter the register, making them extremely useful solo and ensemble instruments.

D Piccolo Clarinet:
  • Range: F#3-B6 (written as E3-A6)
    • Sounds a major 2nd above written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • It is constructed to emphasize the upper register
    • Upper register is shrill
    • Lower register is thin
    • The written G6 is the safest top note, but the A6 is possible
  • Considerations:
    • Give your player enough rest time to change instruments and get adjusted (like piccolos, piccolo clarinets are often an auxiliary instrument played by someone who is also playing a Bb or A clarinet) 
    • It requires more effort to play than the Bb or A clarinet so give your player frequent rests
    • It's penetrating tone makes it an excellent high solo instrument, but it also works well as a contrapuntal or harmonic partner with other clarinets.
    • Doubles well with flutes, violins, and high trumpets
    • Has an incisive staccato and a lovely legato
    • Can perform all the same techniques and special effects as the other clarinets
    • It can execute any dynamic in any register except possibly the most high upper third, which is difficult to play quietly
    • Utilize for the upper register

Eb Piccolo Clarinet:
  • Range: G3-C7 (written as E3-A6)
    • sounds a minor 3rd above written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • It is constructed to emphasize the upper register
    • Upper register is shrill
    • Lower register is thin
    • The written G6 is the safest top note, but the A6 is possible
  • Considerations:
    • Give your player enough rest time to change instruments and get adjusted (like piccolos, piccolo clarinets are often an auxiliary instrument played by someone who is also playing a Bb or A clarinet) 
    • It requires more effort to play than the Bb or A clarinet so give your player frequent rests
    • It's penetrating tone makes it an excellent high solo instrument, but it also works well as a contrapuntal or harmonic partner with other clarinets.
    • Doubles well with flutes, violins, and high trumpets
    • Has an incisive staccato and a lovely legato
    • Can perform all the same techniques and special effects as the other clarinets
    • It can execute any dynamic in any register except possibly the most high upper third, which becomes more difficult to play quietly
    • Utilize for the upper register
Bb Clarinet:
  • Range: D3-G6 (written E3-A6)
    • Sounds a major 2nd below written
  • Registral Characteristics (written tones):
    • E3-F#4: "Chalumeau register" deep and rich
    • G4-Bb4: "Throat tones" rather pale
    • B4-C6: "Clarino register" bright, incisive, and expressive
    • D6-A6: piercing and shrill
  • Considerations:
    • Can execute any dynamic, from pp to ff in any register
    • Single tonguing is mostly used double or triple tonguing is possible
    • Subtones and niente attacks are very effective
    • Can execute any trill or tremolo. The larger interval tremolos are more difficult to execute above the staff but are still possible.
    • Because clarinets overblow the 12th rather than the octave, there is a noticeable "break" between Bb4 and B4. This isn't a problem for experienced players, but can make certain things difficult.
    • Glissandi can only be played in an upward direction. They're easier to perform above the break than below the break and playing them over the break is difficult.
    • Notes can be bent downward but only by microtones 
    • Key clicks, blowing air through the tube, playing through the mouthpiece separated from the rest of the instrument, multiphonics are all common special effects. However, the notation isn't standardized so be sure to communicate with your players.
A Clarinet:
  • Range:
    • Range: C#3-F#6 (written E3-A6)
      • Sounds a minor 3rd below written
  • Registral Characteristics (written tones):
    • E3-F#4: "Chalumeau register" deep and rich
    • G4-Bb4: "Throat tones" rather pale
    • B4-C6: "Clarino register" bright, incisive, and expressive
    • D6-A6: piercing and shrill
  • Considerations:
    • Can execute any dynamic, from pp to ff in any register
    • Single tonguing is mostly used double or triple tonguing is possible
    • Subtones and niente attacks are very effective
    • Can execute any trill or tremolo. The larger interval tremolos are more difficult to execute above the staff but are still possible.
    • Because clarinets overblow the 12th rather than the octave, there is a noticeable "break" between Bb4 and B4. This isn't a problem for experienced players, but can make certain things difficult.
    • Glissandi can only be played in an upward direction. They're easier to perform above the break than below the break and playing them over the break is difficult.
    • Notes can be bent downward but only by microtones 
    • Key clicks, blowing air through the tube, playing through the mouthpiece separated from the rest of the instrument, multiphonics are all common special effects. However, the notation isn't standardized so be sure to communicate with your players.
Eb Alto Clarinet:
  • Range: G2-G5 (written E3-E6)
    • Sounds a major 6th below written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • Basically the same as other clarinets, but only the lowest two octaves speak effectively
  • Considerations:
    • Most useful for filling harmonies and playing soft legato passages due to its unassertive tone
    • Rarer than other clarinets so communicate with your players
    • Can execute the same techniques and coloristic effects as other clarinets but they may not be as effective
Basset Horn:
  • Range: F2-C6 (written as C3-G6)
    • Sounds a perfect 5th below written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • My notes here are lacking. I assume that it has basically the same registral characteristics as the other clarinets.
  • Considerations:
    • It has a "more serious" tone than the other clarinets.
    • It is mostly used to play old literature so consult your players to make sure they have one before writing for it.
Bb Bass Clarinet:
  • Range: D2-D5 (written E3-E6)
    • Sounds a major 9th below written
    • Most bass clarinets have an extension allowing them to reach down to the Db2
    • Some bass clarinets also have an extension allowing them to reach down to C2
    • Consult your players before writing below D2
  • Registral Characteristics (written tones):
    • E3-G4: "Chalumeau register" deep, mysterious, shadowy, and warm
    • A4-G5: "Clarino register" bright and effective but with less character than the chalumeau
    • A5-E6: Thin sounding and difficult to produce  
  • Considerations:
    • Bb4 is the safest top note even though it can extend all the way to the D5
    • Take advantage of the Chalumeau register
    • Has a lovely, lyrical legato but a slightly less incisive staccato than other clarinets due to its size
    • Can execute the same techniques and coloristic effects as other clarinets
Bb Contrabass Clarinet:
  • Range: C1-C4 (written D3-D6)
    • Sounds 2 octaves and a major 2nd below written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • Basically the same as the bass clarinet
    • Very rich in the lower register
    • Loses character in the higher registers
  • Considerations:
    • Less agile than the bass clarinet
Eb Contrabass Clarintet:
  • Range: Gb1-F4 (written Eb3-D6)
    • Sounds an octave and a major 6th below written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • Basically the same as the bass clarinet
    • Very rich in the lower register
    • Loses character in the higher registers
  • Considerations:
    • Less agile than the bass clarinet
    • Sometimes called the "contra alto" clarinet

That's it for the clarinets. I hope this helped you. If I got anything wrong or missed anything, let me know in the comments below. Tune in next time for the saxophones! 

September 1, 2015

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Piano is a great instrument for every composer to know how to play. Some people even call it the King of Instruments because you can do so much with it. The piano has a huge range. If you don't have notation software, knowing how to play piano will help you *playback* nearly anything that you compose and help you to check for any mistakes. Also, you can save money and accompany your own players sometimes.

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August 5, 2015

Orchestration - The Woodwind Choir - Oboes

Oh boy! It's time for the oboes! Why, yes, I do think I'm funny, but now seriously...


The oboe family consists of the oboe, the oboe d'amore, the English horn, the bass (or baritone) oboe, and the Hecklephone. Oboes' small apertures makes them the most breath-efficient instruments in the woodwind choir so they can play longer lyrical passages at higher dynamics than other woodwinds. However, this also means that they need to take longer to breathe so that they can breathe out all of the excess air as well as breathe in new air.

Oboe:
  • Range: Bb3-A6
  • Registral Characteristics: 
    • Bb3-F4: Thick, heavy, dark, honking
    • G4-A5: Warm, reedy, prominent
    • B5-E6: Thin but clear and sweet
    • F6-A6: Pinched and ineffective but sweet
    • In general, the oboe gets stronger as it descends in pitch.
  • Considerations:
    • Never write pianissimo in the lowest register. It's impossible even for the best players.
    • Still agile and virtuosic though not as much as the flute due to the reed. Can't double, triple, or flutter tongue easily but can single tongue very quickly.
    • Has a very sharp, incisive staccato
    • The lowest and highest registers aren't as flexible or effective as the middle range. There are some odd fingerings so be careful about writing virtuosic passages for those registers
    • Although sometimes called for, rapid repeated notes aren't idiomatic 
    • Runs and large skips are very idiomatic
    • Avoid trills from Bb3-B3 and C4-C#4
    • Avoid large tremolos above the staff
    • Avoid tremolos larger than a perfect 5th
    • Key clicks, airflow without pitch, removing the reed, quarter tones, and pitch bending are all available as coloristic effects for oboes
    • Multiphonics are usually available (ask your players) but sound very strident
Oboe D'amore:

  • Range: G#3-C#6 (written B3-E6)
    • The oboe d'amore sounds a minor 3rd below what is written.
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • The lower register is full and dark
    • The highest register is thin and almost useless
    • Overall, much gentler sounding than the oboe
  • Considerations: I don't have any notes here, but I'm assuming they're the same as for the oboe.

English Horn:

  • Range: E3-C6 (written B3-G6)
    • The English Horn sounds a perfect 5th below what is written
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • E3-C4: Deep, rich, intense
    • D4-D5: Mellow, reedy, sonorous
    • E5-C6: Thin, pinched
    • Strongest in the lower register. Sounds like a weak oboe in the highest register
  • Considerations:
    • Avoid large tremolos above the staff
    • Avoid tremolos of larger than a perfect fifth
    • Can execute all the same extended techniques as the oboe
    • Take advantage of the low register where the English Horn truly shines

Bass (or Baritone) Oboe and Hecklephone:

  • Range: A2-G5 (written A3-G6)
    • Both instruments have the same range and sound an octave below what is written.
  • Registral Characteristics: 
    • Like all instruments in this family, they get stronger as they descend in pitch.
    • Both have a full, dark sound in the lower registers and are less effective in the higher registers.
  • Considerations:
    • Much like the bass flute, these instruments are rare. Not many orchestras will be able to provide them.
    • They sound very similar and are fairly interchangeable. 

That's it for the oboes. Hope this helps you. If you've got anything to add, go ahead and leave a comment. Tune in next time for the clarinets!

July 31, 2015

Orchestration: The Woodwind Choir - Flutes

It's occurred to me that I should probably cite my sources for these orchestration posts, but I got all this info from a class. The required books were The Study of Orchestration by Samuel Adler (plus the workbook and CD set), Instrumentation and Orchestration by Alfred Blatter, Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation by Elaine Gould, and Music Notation in the 20th Century: A Practical Guidebook by Kurt Stone. However, I didn't actually buy any of the books (except the workbook) because they're really expensive. Just took really good notes which I'm transcribing for you here. Thus, I don't know what info comes from which book. If you want even more detailed information on orchestration, I suggest you check out these books for yourself. The professor spoke very highly of them.

Also, trying to write a whole post about each instrument in an entire choir got a little overwhelming so each post is just going to focus on one family. Now, let's discuss the flute family.

The flute family consists of the piccolo, flute, alto flute, and bass flute. The piccolo, alto flute, and bass flute are often used as auxiliary instruments to extend the range of the flute but are also lovely as solo and core instruments. Because instruments in this family do not have reeds, they use more breath and have an airier sound than the other woodwinds. The lack of a reed also makes double, triple, and flutter tonguing much easier, making flutes the most agile instruments of the woodwind choir.
Flutes:
  • Range: C4-C7
    • Most professional players have a flute with a B foot allowing them to play down to a B3
    • Skilled players can usually reach up to C#7 or D7
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • B3-G4: Weak but luscious. Easily overshadowed
    • A4-G5: Sweet but soft. Still easily overshadowed
    • A5-G6: Bright, clear, and strong
    • A6-D7: Shrill and loud. Difficult to produce. Best approached in an ascending scale.
    • In general, flutes project more as they go up in pitch.
  • Considerations:
    • Flutes are the most agile of the woodwind instruments. Double and triple tonguing come easily so you can write extremely fast passages.
    • Make sure you give them enough time to breathe, especially after difficult passages. They lose air faster than other woodwinds. 
    • The higher the register and the louder the dynamic, the more air is needed.
    • Unison playing gives the notes more weight, but you lose some of the individuality of the timbre.
    • During divisi playing, 4ths and 5ths in the highest register are difficult to tune.
    • Dovetail the flutes for sustained notes or trills or long passages with no breaks.
    • Trills and tremolos are very effective on flutes; however, the following are difficult if not impossible to pull off:
      • Trill C4-Db4 
      • Trill Db4-Eb4 (C#4-D#4)
      • Trill B3-C4
      • Trill B3-C#4
      • Tremolo C4-D#4
      • Some flutes have an added C#4 trill key to make trills in the lowest register easier, but don't count on it. Ask your player.
      • All trills above G6 are difficult and all tremolos from or to B3 are weak.
      • Avoid tremolos larger than a perfect 5th in the lowest register and larger than a perfect fourth in the higher registers. You might have players that can pull off larger intervals but shouldn't count on it. If you're writing for a soloist and really want a large tremolo, it doesn't hurt to ask. However, such large intervals aren't usually necessary; a smaller one could be just as effective and is more likely to turn out well. It's safest to keep them at the third.
    • Harmonics:
      • All pitches above C35 are overblown and technically harmonics. However, to indicate that you specifically want that pale harmonic sound, notate a small "o" above the note. 
      • The pitch will sound as written, but the player will finger the note an octave below and overblow.
    • Extended techniques such as flutter tonguing, multiphonics, microtones, key clicks, and whistle tones are effective ways to add different colors to the music.  
Piccolos:
  • Range: D5-C8 (written as D4-C7)
    • The piccolo sounds one octave above what is written.
    • Some military bands use piccolos that can reach down to Db4, but these models are very rare.
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • D4-G4: Hauntingly hollow but soft. Easily overshadowed. 
    • G4-D5: Sweet and mellow. Still easily overshadowed.
    • D5-G5: Sweet and still mellow but stronger
    • G5-G6: Bright, clear, and strong
    • G#6-C7: Shrill and whistle-like, very effective but tiring for the player and audience. Difficult (if not impossible) to play quietly. Do not overuse.
    • In general, piccolos project more as they go up in pitch.
  • Considerations:
    • Piccolos are even more agile than flutes. Leaps are even easier. 
    • The same considerations in breath and technique as for flutes.
Alto Flutes: 

  • Range: G3-G6 (written as C4-C7)
    •  The alto flute sounds a perfect fourth below what is written.
  • Registral Characteristics:
    • G3-G4: Deep, rich, and sonorous
    • G4-G5: Full and still fairly effective
    • G5-G6: Weaker and lacking brilliance
  • Considerations:
    • Usually used for timbre. Write in the lower register to be most effective. The higher register just sounds like a weak concert flute. 
    • It can execute all of the same techniques as the flute, but it requires more air because of its size.

Bass  Flutes:

  • Range: C3-C6 (written as C4-C7)
    • The bass flute sounds one octave below what is written.
  • Registral characteristics:
    • Unfortunately, my notes on the bass flute aren't as detailed; however, much like the alto flute, the bass flute is generally used for its rich low tones. Unless you're writing for a solo bass flute, let the flutes and piccolos take care of the high notes.
  • Considerations:
    • Can execute same techniques as flute but requires even more air than the alto flute.
So that's the flute family. If you've got anything to add, go ahead and leave a comment. Hope this helped you. Tune in next week for the oboes!






June 4, 2015

Orchestration: The Woodwind Choir

 Classifying Woodwinds

There are five basic ways to classify woodwind instruments: by family, by reed, by the interval it overblows, by whether it transposes, and by bore shape.

Woodwind Families 
     Flutes: Piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute
     Oboes: Oboe, English Horn
     Clarinets: Clarinet in Eb, Bb, A, Bass Clarinet
     Bassoons: Bassoon, Contrabassoon
     Saxophones: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone

Reed Status 
     Non-reeds: flutes
     Single reeds: clarinets and saxophones
     Double reeds: oboes, English horns, and bassoons

Overblown Interval (Overblowing is the equivalent of touching a node on a string for a harmonic. This is accomplished by blowing with more force, thereby compelling the vibrating air column to split fractionally.)
     Flutes and all conical woodwinds overblow the octave
     Clarinets overblow the twelfth

Transposition Status
     Non-transposing: flute, oboe, bassoon
     Transposing: Piccolo, Alto flute, Bass flute, English horn, Clarinets, Contrabassoon, Saxophones

Bore Shape (the more conical the bore, the warmer the sound)
     Cylindrical (straight tube): Flutes and clarinets
     Conical (tube is larger at one end than the other): Oboes, English horns, bassoons, and saxophones are conical

Playing Techniques (you can hear most of these here)

Vibrato: The pulsating effect caused by minute pitch fluctuations that enrich and adds expressiveness to the tone. You don't need to specify the use of vibrato in the score unless you are looking for a specific effect such as a very rapid vibrato. The player will naturally color the pitch with vibrato. However, if you wish for a passage to have no vibrato, you must indicate that in the score by writing non vibrato, senza vibrato, or white tone. When you wish the player to resume using vibrato, you indicate this by writing con vibrato, normale, or normal. 

Tonguing: How the player tongues a note will affect the articulation. Likewise, the articulations you notate will affect how the player tongues a passage. If you don't indicate any articulations, the player will tongue every note so that each note is slightly accented (the sound will be similar to detache bowing in stringed instruments).

1. Legato tonguing: Notated with a slur. The player tongues only the first note of the passage encompassed by the slur so that each note runs smoothly into the next.
2. Staccato tonguing: Notated with small dots under or over the notehead. The player tongues each note with a dot so that the note is very sharp and short.
3. Soft tonguing: Notated with a slur over staccato dots. The player tongues each note "softly" so that the staccato is not quite so sharp. The effect is like that of the loure bowing on a stringed instrument.
4. Double and triple tonguing: Used to articulate notes in fast passages. Easier on some instruments than others.
5. Dynamic envelopes: Notated with sfp, fp, sf > p < f, or visa versa. The player uses the tongue to create a sharp attack that is immediately softened.
6. Flutter tonguing: Notated either by placing three slashes through the note stem (or above a whole note) or by writing flutter tongue, Flt., The player rolls the tongues to create a whirring sound similar to the tremolo effect on stringed instruments.

Muting: None of the woodwind instruments have actual mutes, but the player can get a muted effect by stuffing a cloth in the tube or by lightly covering the open end of the bell with the hand. Muting is not possible on the flute.

Special effects: These are extended techniques for adding extra pizzaz to a piece. Professional players shouldn't have a problem with them, but younger players might.
1. Multiphonics: Playing more than one note at the same time similar to playing double stops on a stringed instrument but much more difficult. When using multiphonics, you must write out the fingering for the player. You might also ask the player if they have any multiphonic fingerings that they already use and know are successful because there is some variation from instrument to instrument.
2. Microtones: Notes in between notes. As with multiphonics, you should ask the player and write out the fingerings.
3. Glissandi: Running through several successive notes very quickly (think harp dream sequence). These are easiest on saxophones and clarinets and only in an upward direction. The downward direction is only effective between neighboring pitches and is really more of a pitch bend than a glissando. These pitch bend glissandi shouldn't be written for intervals greater than a second.
4. Slap tonguing: An overly articulated attack. This works best on clarinets and saxophones but is possible on the other instruments. To indicate, write "slap tongue" above passage.
5. Key clicking: Pressing down the keys very hard without blowing any air to create a percussive sound. Most effective in solo music because the sound is very soft but can be used to add discrete color to orchestral or ensemble music. To indicate, write "key clicks" above the passage.
6. Whistle tones: A shriek-like sound on flutes produced by turning the flute slightly away and blowing across rather than into the instrument while fingering the pitches. To indicate, write "whistle tone" above the passage.
7. Niente attacks: The dynamic fades in from and to nothing. This works best on the clarinet. To indicate starting from nothing, write "N<" as the dynamic. To indicate fading to nothing, write "N>" as the dynamic.
8. Subtones: An extremely soft dynamic that can only be achieved on clarinets. To indicate, write "sotto voce," "subtone," or "echo tone," above the passage or write "ppp" as the dynamic. To be clear, it may be best to write one of the phrases above the passage since dynamics are relative.

General Scoring Principles

1. The first and second parts of identical instruments are usually written on the same staff unless the parts are rhythmically varied enough to make this practice confusing, in which case use a different staff for each instrument.

2. When there are three parts for identical instruments, use a single staff for the first and second parts and a separate staff for the third part unless the second and third part are more rhythmically alike, in which case use a separate staff for the first part and a single staff for the second and third parts

3. On a single staff, if both the first and second players are to play in unison, the part must be marked "a 2", if three parts are to play in unison, it must be marked "a 3".

4. If the first or second player is to play alone, you can either write in the appropriate rests for the other player in the score or write above the staff "1." or "1°" for the first player or "2." or "2°" for the second player.

5. You may write the term Solo above a passage to designate that it is the most important event occurring in the orchestral texture at the moment.

5. Never use the term Divisi; it is solely for string players who read two to a part. Wind players each have a separate part.

6. To indicate a return to normal from an extended technique or special effect, write "normale" or "normal".

7. Don't use breath marks. Give them a rest.

8. When one player is doubling on another instrument, always give the second instrument to the second or third player, never to the principle, and be sure to give the player plenty of time to switch instruments.


That's it for this overview. Hope it helped. The next post will go into the details of individual instruments, and I'll try to include soundbites for each technique described. Thanks for reading!