Not long ago I discussed a quote from the introduction to one of my favorite books on musical form, Musical Structure and Design by Cedric Thorpe Davie. I thought I’d take a chance to share another of my favorite books, Creative Orchestration by George Fredric McKay.
I have read dozens of orchestration books, but almost every single one of them should have been called an “instrumentation” book. Because although they went into great detail about each individual instrument of the orchestra, they almost never explained how to actually use those instruments together to write a piece of orchestral music!
Creative Orchestration is a very different book. Although he makes a few comments on each instrument, the bulk of the book is about how to use the different sections of the orchestra in interesting, creative and balanced ways. It’s truly enlightening and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who wants to write orchestral music.
My favorite section is when he goes into detail of his eight orchestral textures, how each one functions independently, and how they can be combined to create more complex arrangements.
(Amazingly I came upon the book serendipitously when my college roommate found it in an alley and gave it to me!)