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Thread: Orchestrating well known piano sonata

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    Default Orchestrating well known piano sonata

    So, I figured, if I'm going to orchestrate any piano sonata, it would be better for me to orchestrate the Pathetique sonata. Even on the piano, the sound of it is orchestral in nature so it fits very well to an orchestra. Only concern would be the 128th notes and 64th notes in the Grave sections of the first movement. I don't know if somebody like a flutist could play notes that fast, even at 33 BPM. I barely can, so I often slow down those parts with the 128th notes. At allegro, my fingers reach a speed limit that happens to match 32nd note speed. I simply can't move my fingers faster. So, if I see 64ths in a piece at Allegro(which, I rarely see, partly because I rarely see 64th notes at all), I'm like "I'm going to have to play it as though the 8th note is taking the beat, so according to the BPM, I would still be at Allegro but I wouldn't be trying to play faster than I can.

    Anyway, there are places, specifically where it has the right hand alternating between high phrases and low phrases, that I feel I have to have the bass line doubled in the brass instead of the low woodwinds so that those low woodwinds can:
    1) get a break from all the playing they did before, even if it is just 2.5 beats of a break
    and
    2) be freed up so that they can play the low phrases.

    And the places where the score says fortissimo, that's when I would be bringing in the full brass section. But there are 2 things I am questioning. In the low phrases at fortissimo, should I have the trumpet play the highest pitch an octave above the highest pitched french horn since the ideal trumpet sound is closer to the 2nd octave, even though the lowest pitch used as a note on the trumpet is F# below the staff, and have the french horn closer to the trombones in terms of pitch range? After all, a french horn player can go low, even a bit lower than a tenor trombone at professional level. And does this mean that I should have the trumpet staff above the french horn staff(I am only using 1 staff for 4 horns to save space since I have a huge orchestra in the piece), like how with the woodwinds, I have them in order of lowest pitch which also happens to follow convention, or should I follow convention and have the french horn staff above the trumpet staff, even if the highest notes in the brass section are played by the trumpet?

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    clarinets should be able to handle that speed. It's scales after all.

    Violins can do scales also very quickly, but not so much more complex patterns.

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    I have been orchestrating the Pathetique Sonata. I looked on IMSLP and saw no orchestral transcription. And I figured, if I am going to orchestrate a piano sonata, this would be the sonata to orchestrate because it sounds orchestral with all those chords and octaves, even as a piano solo.

    Here is what I have done for the Introduction:

    1) Where there are 2-3 bass and melody lines, use the full woodwinds and strings(viola I have been using so far as a high pitched bass instrument because often, there are either 2 bass lines that sound fuller when the higher one is in octaves(so viola in octaves with the cello) or there are 3 bass lines)

    2) Where there are accents in a loud passage, have the tympani do a drum roll

    3) Where there are alternating high and low passages, have the low brass(Tuba, and bass and tenor trombones) double the strings so that the woodwinds can play the entire melody.

    4) Have the high brass(alto trombone, C trumpet, and French horn) double the high woodwinds in the alternating passages

    5) No violins when the brass instruments are playing, especially if it is fortissimo(just didn't want to risk it not being heard over the brass, and figured that the woodwinds, double bass, cello, and viola would be enough to balance the brass in the quiet passages and the fortissimo passages would have the brass stand out)

    6) If writing the pitches as I would normally leads to some of them being out of range for an instrument, then bring the whole passage for that instrument down an octave. If that still has out of range notes but they are too low, don't have that instrument play the passage at all(like the chromatic passage and the triplets before it simply had too wide of a pitch range for the trumpet so I didn't have the trumpet play that passage)

    7) Minimize the number of notes only a professional can play well. A few notes above amateur level now and then is fine. But if there are more than like 4-5 difficult notes in a passage, bring that passage down an octave.

    This has worked well but now I'm stuck at the allegro with mostly octave tremolos and 1-3 melody lines. Not sure how to orchestrate that section of the first movement.

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    my recommendation for octave tremolo. Only the piano can do this effectively. But if you consider the intended effect, it's likely to be using the tremolo to fill and provide increased dynamic intensity, which you could do with basses doing just single note trem just doubled up the octave by another string section (e.g. celli).

    I'd be careful about moving things up and down octaves. You may be better handing the tune off to an instrument or section which it's in the range for. It does otherwise affect the perceived melody.

    p.s. string section can hold its own against brass.
    Last edited by adrien; Nov-11-2018 at 23:35.

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