AskDefine | Define orchestration

Dictionary Definition



1 an arrangement of a piece of music for performance by an orchestra or band
2 the act of arranging a piece of music for an orchestra and assigning parts to the different musical instruments [syn: instrumentation]
3 an arrangement of events that attempts to achieve a maximum effect; "the skillful orchestration of his political campaign"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. the arrangement of music for performance by an orchestra
  2. a composition that has been orchestrated
  3. the control of diverse elements

Extensive Definition

For the use of the term "orchestration" in computer science, see orchestration (computers)
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for orchestra (or, more loosely, for any musical ensemble) or of adapting for orchestra music composed for another medium. It only gradually over the course of music history came to be regarded as a compositional art in itself.
There are two general kinds of adaptation: transcription, which closely follows the original piece, and arrangement, which tends to change significant aspects of the original piece. In practice, however, the terms transcription and arrangement are often used interchangeably. Orchestration applies, strictly speaking, only to the orchestra, whereas the term instrumentation applies to all instrumental groups. Instrumentation in this sense subsumes orchestration. In the study of orchestration — in contradistinction to the practice — the term instrumentation may also refer to consideration of the defining characteristics of individual instruments rather than to the art of combining instruments.
In commercial music, especially musical theatre and film music, independent orchestrators are often used because it is difficult to meet tight deadlines when the same person is required both to compose and to orchestrate.
Film orchestrators often work from a short score (that is, a score written on several musical staves). Broadway orchestrators are more likely to work from a piano score (as does Jonathan Tunick when he orchestrates Stephen Sondheim's songs, for example) or from a lead sheet. In the latter case, arranging as well as orchestration will be involved.

Historically significant orchestration texts

  • Michael Praetorius(1619): Syntagma musicum volume two, De Organographia.
  • Valentin Roeser (1764): Essai de l'instruction à l'usage de ceux, qui composent pour la clarinette et le cor.
  • Hector Berlioz (1844): Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes (Treatise on Instrumentation).
  • François-Auguste Gevaert (1863): Traité general d’instrumentation.
  • Charles-Marie Widor (1904) : Technique de l’orchestre moderne (Manual of Practical Instrumentation).
  • Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1912): Основы оркестровки (Principles of Orchestration).
  • Cecil Forsyth (1914): Orchestration.
  • Charles Koechlin (1954–9): Traité de l'Orchestration (4 vols).
  • Walter Piston (1955): Orchestration.

External links

orchestration in Catalan: Orquestració
orchestration in Czech: Orchestrace
orchestration in German: Instrumentation
orchestration in Persian: سازبندی
orchestration in French: Orchestration
orchestration in Italian: Orchestrazione
orchestration in Hebrew: תזמור
orchestration in Dutch: Orkestratie
orchestration in Japanese: 管弦楽法
orchestration in Portuguese: Orquestração
orchestration in Simple English: Orchestration
orchestration in Finnish: Soitinnus
orchestration in Swedish: Instrumentation
orchestration in Chinese: 配器法

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Nachtmusik, absolute music, adaptation, air varie, aleatory, aleatory music, arrangement, chamber music, chamber orchestra, composition, descant, electronic music, etude, exercise, harmonization, incidental music, instrumental music, instrumentation, intonation, invention, modulation, nocturne, opus, phrasing, piece, preparation, production, program music, resolution, ricercar, score, setting, solution, sonata, sonatina, string orchestra, string quartet, study, suspension, theme and variations, tone painting, transcription, trio, variation, work
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