Berlioz’s orchestration treatise is a classic textbook which has been used as – Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary -. Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, Op (Berlioz, Hector ) .. Name Translations, Treatise on Instrumentation; Gran Tratado de. Berlioz, Hector, – [Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes. English]. Berlioz’s orchestration treatise: a translation and.

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The lower notes of the oboe, which sound ugly when exposed, may be suitable in certain harmonies of an eerie and sorrowful character, when played together with the lower notes of clarinets and the low D, E, F and G of the flutes and the cor anglais.

Beethoven, 4th symphony, 2nd movement, bars [ A vigorous marcato rhythm in a vast choral piece or a frenzied dance gains a great deal by being played not by a single pair of cymbals but by four, six, ten or even more, depending on the size of the venue and the numbers of the other instruments and voices. The authority of a hundred old men, be they all agedshould not persuade us to find ugly what orchestratioj beautiful, nor beautiful what is ugly.

The upper notes played fortissimo orchesrtation excellent for violent and shattering effects, as for example in a storm or in a piece ordhestration a ferocious or infernal character.

And yet the bass drum can be admirably effective when used intelligently.

This means that the old system of double-bass players who simplify their partsa system widely adopted in the old instrumental school and exposed to the dangers we have indicated, is nowadays completely rejected. The brilliant effect produced by military bands in some streets of large cities supports this statement while appearing to contradict it. This effect was unknown to Mozart, Weberand Beethoven. Unless one wishes to trample common sense and all artistic principles it is quite impossible to use such instruments merely to provide the harmony.

It appears therefore that the flute is an instrument largely devoid of expression, and can be introduced in any context to play anything, because of its facility in executing groups of fast notes and in sustaining high sounds that are useful in the orchestra to supplement high harmonies. For example to reproduce in a musical way the great images of the mass for the dead in a RequiemI have used four small orchestras of brass instruments trumpets, trombones, cornets and ophicleides placed some distance from each other at the four corners of the large orchestra.

Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, Op.10 (Berlioz, Hector)

The practice of some masters nowadays of treating the three trombones and ophicleide as a quartet, with the latter taking the real bass part, may not be above reproach. Obviously it would be necessary to adopt a style of extraordinary breadth orchestratuon time the entire mass of players and singers is used, while delicate effects, light and fast movements, should be reserved for small orchestras which the composer could easily assemble and make to dialogue with each treaitse in this crowd of musicians.


When used in isolation or in groups of two, three, or four, it is strikingly the ofchestration of horns, trombones, and brass instruments in general that marries best with them.

Meyerbeer is the first to have introduced this sound into the opera house. But it is a mistake to suppose that all orchestras must be constructed according to this scheme, which is based on the predominance of string instruments.

Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary – Berlioz – Google Books

Francs Juges ordhestration, bar and following; Symphonie Fantastique4th movement, bar 25 and following, 49 and following; Roman Carnival overture, bar and following; Le Corsaire overture, bar and following]. I believe I have already stated that it seemed to me impossible to explain orchesrration beautiful orchestral effects are invented, and that this faculty, which practice and reasoned observation probably help to develop, is, like the faculty of creating melody, expression, and even harmony, one of the precious gifts that the poet-musician, like an inspired creator, must have received from nature.

Excellent results can be achieved with the opposite system. There is also the Full organthe Forteand Expression. The latter consists in writing for the horns exactly as for bassoons and clarinets, without taking into account the vast difference between stopped notes and open notes, and also between different stopped notes, or the difficulty for the performer to play a particular note after another that does not lead to it naturally, or the doubtful intonation, poor sonority and harsh and strange sound produced when two thirds or three quarters of the bell are stopped.

The second coach will rehearse in the same way the first and second tenors.

References could of course be multiplied. Theatre directors nowadays have no excuse to tolerate misdeeds of this kind, since for a modest outlay they can acquire, if not a pipe organ, at least a melodium-organ which is almost adequate as a substitute.

The need for runs of this kind is extremely rare, and we confess we have not yet come across it.

Mutes are normally used in slow pieces, but they are no less effective for quick and light figuration when the subject of the music calls for it, or for accompaniments in an urgent orchrstration. Ordinary rhythms, devoid of melody, harmony or tonality, or of anything that constitutes real music, but intended solely to provide a beat for soldiers on the march, become exciting when performed by a mass of forty or fifty drums on their own.

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When stopped sounds are not used for a specific effect then at least those which have a poor sonority and are too different from the other sounds of the horn should be avoided. They give a velvety and dark timbre to the timpani, which gives excellent definition to the sound, and makes the pitch easier to hear. A orchewtration section has power, lightness and grace, it can express sombre or joyful feelings, reverie and passion.

Selected pages Page xxiv.

Some went further and wanted to dispense altogether with any accompaniment, pretending that harmony was a barbarous invention. But this was probably of little consequence as far as composers were concerned. Since violinists do not regard pizzicato as an integral part of the art of violin playing they have hardly studied it.

In the Adagio of one of my symphonies [the Symphonie Fantastique ], the cor anglais, after repeating an octave lower the phrases of the oboe, like the voice of a young man answering a girl in a pastoral dialogue, then repeats fragments orchestragion it at the end of the piece, to the muted accompaniment of four timpani, while the rest of the orchestra remains silent.

It is extremely valuable in large orchestras of wind instruments; but few players decide to take up the instrument.

Treatise on Instrumentation – Wikipedia

This is an essential precondition for achieving the best possible results and calculating with sureness the intended effects. It can be used for melodies and accents of different kinds, though it cannot match the artless gaiety of the oboe or the noble tenderness of the clarinet.

Those of the lower register are particularly suited, especially with held notes, for those coldly threatening effects, and for the dark tones of still rage which Weber ingeniously invented.

These results will probably be modified in a thousand other ways, treatsie or bad, by composers who adopt them. But when multiplied by many instruments playing in unison, it results in magnificent nuances and irresistible surges of emotion that penetrate to the depth of the heart.