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Orchestrating from piano, Sibelius No Sound

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Dillon DeRosa, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. I'm practicing orchestrating with no sound from Sibelius, just what's in my head and the piano. I started Sibelius with no playback options so I couldn't even accidentally press play and hear the notes. If there is a mistake I want to spot it visually first (which I've done several times already, damn you alto clef!)

    It really makes me think harder which makes my head hurt (in a good way). I wish I practiced this more years ago so I'd be faster, nonetheless I will say I have gained much more detail and attention to my voice leading this way.

    Has anyone else tried this? Or of course pencil/paper works just as well. I don't have a large orchestral staff pad and my chicken scratch is horrendous, so I thought this muted Sibelius would be fun practice... as well as give me a chance to get out of my DAW and get cozier with my inner ear/head. :)
    Aaron Venture likes this.
  2. Yes, I do that all the time!

    When I'm orchestrating on a movie I keep the demo playing in a loop and Sibelius muted. That way I'm working towards having the score correspond to the demo in certain aspects.

    The key is knowing which aspects has to correspond and which don't.
    Aaron Venture and Dillon DeRosa like this.
  3. I want to expand on this question to ask more generally: how are you guys doing with relative pitch? Assuming you don't have perfect pitch. Can you guys write without piano?

    I can ALMOST hear notes when I'm playing the piano, in the sense that I'm pretty close to playing what I'm hearing most of the times, but it's not always a 1 to 1 translation. But lately I've been interacting with more experienced composers which showed me that they can write without the piano; that honestly blew my mind. But of course, they struggled with complex harmony (which I think it will always require the aid of the piano in a way or another). Learning this would be a huge step forward for my writing - think about the endless possibilities of writing ideas/transcribing while on the train/plane, that would be incredible!

    I was always scared of trying to make the leap of faith of going directly to paper, because I didn't believe in my abilities enough, but do you believe it's something everyone can learn?

    To answer your question: I always end up with cleaner orchestrations when I try to hear everything in my head, and I learn the most when I flesh out everything only on the score and then find out something was wrong afterwards. The playback definitely makes things easier, but I kind of see it like using training wheels :)

    Not that I'm good or anything, I do believe that the more you challenge your ear, the better you become!
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  4. I often write directly to paper. You get better at it by doing it. The first many years I did it as a teenager I would have a melody in my head and I tried to notate it. Then I played it at the first opportunity I had. Then I corrected what I had written compared to how I imagined it and then it slowly built to being a skill where I can imagine how music is notated without an audible aid and I can imagine how a score sounds without an audible aid.
  5. I try for fun sometimes but I'm still learning (I'm very bad at this). I'm better the otherway almost like photographic memory but with audio/notes... I can pick out a note and tell you what it is if I heard it because I remember the exact thing from a certain soundtrack or piece I love. Like for quick example, Bb on a trumpet the high one I can always pick out cause of Star Wars. But it would be great if I could write without piano but at the moment I can't. I do believe this is something that can be learned since it's just practice / ear training. I think it takes alot of time though and dedication.

    I agree though that it would be amazing to just be traveling and always be orchestrating cause your inner orchestra/relative pitch is really strong. My professor in college was like this, she is amazing. She could also look at a score and hear what it would sound like instantly. I always thought this was a magic trick but she said she's just been doing it forever. The secret is just practice and time.

    For now though for me, I'll stick to practicing piano to paper/sibelius (muted) and get away from me mainly working in the DAW for years now.
    Francesco Bortolussi likes this.
  6. Try this on your next vacation: bring a pocket score. Read it like a book. Imagine it! And when you get home: find a recording.
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.

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