Blog Posts Composition & Orchestration

Orchestration project peeves

…a.k.a. “Has this student ever seen a page of printed music?” These things should (but do not) result in immediate failure and/or being made to sit in the corner.

Because a student isn’t thinking with their ears

  • When there is no tempo marked
  • When there are no dynamic markings at all. Or a tempo indication. Or articulations and slurs…
  • When an effect only lasts for one note

Because a student is timid

  • When everything has a “mezzo” dynamic
  • When accompaniments are entirely in whole notes or half notes

Because a student is guessing instead of learning something

  • When a note is marked sp (for “subito piano”?)
  • When all parts are balanced with dynamics; mf for the melody, mp for the middleground, p for the bass
  • When “arco” has a period at the end
  • When all pizzicato notes are marked with staccato dots
  • When all notes of a string part have upbow and downbow markings
  • When a tie is marked instead of a slur

Because a student is too lazy to proofread or to look in the on-screen manual

  • When an empty bar is full of jumbled rests instead of a bar rest
  • When a pick-up bar has a bar rest in one instrument
  • When errors are multiplied by copy-and-paste
  • When notes overlap hairpins
  • When a dynamic marking appears under a rest, sometimes under an empty bar (I’m looking at YOU, Finale)
  • When the last bar occupies an entire page-width

Because a student isn’t thinking about all the details

  • When an instrument is listed as “Violin 1” even though there is only one violin in the piece
  • When two separate lines are both listed as “Trumpet” instead of “Trumpet 1” and “Trumpet 2”
  • When fermatas only appear in instruments that are playing when the fermata occurs
  • When rhythms are difficult to read because they obscure multiple beats in a row