Using ORCHESTRAL Instruments To Make Your Music Sound MASSIVE

How To Add ORCHESTRAL Instruments To Your Music

Tommaso Zillio

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orchestral instruments in metal

Do you wish your music had symphonic elements in it?

Do you wish that arranging for an orchestra didn’t take a life time to master so you could actually do this?

Well, I’m telling you that you can - because we can cheat!

Yes, writing for full orchestra requires quite some time to master...

... but in most modern music productions, you should be able to add a nice symphonic backdrop that compliments your music nicely...

... if you know a couple of tricks and if you have a basic understanding of how the instruments in an orchestra work (and we can cover that in 11 minutes flat - as you'll see in the video below)

You don’t need to know how to play all the instruments in an orchestra to write for them.

The things you need to know are:

  • The physical limitations of each instrument, as certain things that may seem simple to a guitar player might be impossible on another instrument. (As an example, a bass player playing whole notes for entire songs will make millions and millions of dollars. A bass flute player playing whole notes will be dead before the end of the song. This is due to the general requirement people have to breathe.)

  • What instruments to use, and what instruments to shun like the plague, especially if you are adding the orchestra to a song (rather than writing a pure orchestral piece)

  • The general range of the instruments (if you give the bass line to the oboe, you are just going to hear horrible squeals and the lamentations of a p1$$3d off oboist)

  • how to pander to the ego of first violinists, flutists, and soprano singers, because we all know that flattery make them play better nah, you don't need to learn that. You are already very familiar with this if you ever had to deal with a lead guitarist lol.

Believe it or not, I cover the basics to all of this in the video below. Watch it and you can start using symphonic elements in modern music productions today:

A lot of orchestral arrangement has to do with spreading the notes of chords across many instruments. This means that in order to properly orchestrate or arrange music, you should understand how chords work and how they're built. If you want to understand that better, check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course.

Video Transcription

Tommaso Zillio 0:00

Hello internet, so nice to see you! This is a video of the series band problems where we use music theory to solve the problems you may have when you work with your band. And let's say that you are in a band, it could be a rock band or a metal band or anything else. And you want this time to make your song big.

And so you decide that you want to write some orchestral part for your song. You want to add strings and woodwinds and brass and whatever else big percussion, a lot of stuff. How do you start approaching arranging an orchestra for your band. It's not obvious because arranging for orchestra or orchestrating in general and orchestrating for a modern band.

So the orchestra, adding it to bass and drums and guitar are two completely different problem. And if you study orchestration, you don't study this second problem, you study usually how to orchestrate an orchestra by itself, or orchestrate the orchestra with a choir but not orchestrate an orchestra with a modern band with Drum and Bass etc. So how do you go about that? Well, I have a certain experience doing that.

And a student of mine asked me exactly that. How do we adapt a symphonic orchestra if you want to our band? And my answer will work whether you use a real orchestra lucky you if you can, or if you use orchestral samples, and that's the answer I gave him.

Speaker 2 1:31
So my question is about metal and specifically combining it with symphonic elements. I'm looking for, like, ideas how I can integrate it that I don't have to just try and like the trial and error approach. I want to have, like ways and ideas how I know beforehand, that it will work and that it will sound good.

Tommaso Zillio 1:59
So you're thinking about having a metal song and an orchestra. So are the strings. Yes, our staff actually do it. And you want to know how to make everything fit? Yes. And the first thing is, what do you know about the orchestral instruments?

Speaker 2 2:15
I guess pretty much. So I'm composing for I can compose for orchestral pieces. Okay.

Tommaso Zillio 2:22
Okay, great. So you know that there are four families of instruments, strings, winds, brass, and pretty much everything else, percussion. You know, that the Four Families are different, you know, that the string can do nearly everything except power. Okay, you know, the woodwinds have a lot of color, but they have a lot of these idiosyncrasies in how they work. You know, the brass are very powerful, but they lack like the top end.

There's nothing above the trumpet. In the sub when you go above the treble clef, the treble clef or the last line of the treble clef. You don't have much for brass, you know, percussion can cut through wind are powerful, but they cannot sustain in general. Okay, you're not a little bit great. And you know, each family has a spectrum.

Many there are high instruments, and low instruments. On the string family, you had the violins and violas, cellos and the double bass from highest lows, and you have two sections from violins, and so on, and so forth. Right, we can go and describe everything, but you want to belong, the main trick to offer orchestrate in metal, okay, if this is forget about the low instruments, eliminate them immediately, because you already have them.

You have a drums, and the bass and the electric guitars, and those three, the rhythm section, but what a jazz play, we call the rhythm section. And we can call them the same because pretty much that's what it is. Those three instruments already cover a big part of the spectrum and definitely cover all the low frequencies.

So if you put a double bass in there, you're not gonna hear it. Because it's exactly the same frequency as a bass. It's pretty much the same instrument and the extension is the same. Okay, so it's useless, you're just putting more on thoughtful that is not going to hear a cello. Unless you've done the high E range, which would be great for a melody, for instance, whether the voice of the top string of the cello would sound good, but most of the cello is definitely too low.

Don't even put it in use the two section of strings and the one section of violas, you just use the higher part of every family of instrument, and you make sure that they stay above the power chord essentially. So when you play your power chord, you see what's the highest and it sounds it wouldn't be because I'm clean. But if it was the highest note you're playing, okay, in this case, this is the A just below middle C or D is just really just above middle C, so I know where I am on the score.

Okay, the middle C on the guitar, it's the first fret of the second string, okay, just to establish where we are okay, but we cover all the low side with the bass. And we leave that the orchestral instrument covered the high side. Essentially, these means that we either have to not use some instruments or we have to write for those instrument on the higher range. These eliminates a number of possibilities.

Bassoons probably out there unless you play the bassoon solo on a theme bassoon solo. Okay, trombones, forget about them, you have an electric guitar. That is a function of the trombone, okay, and to bind Shin bass and all that kinds of stuff. Now, they've just had that extra guitar. That's your sound, thump.

It's probably, I mean, they're once again, not super high, so they can work hard and you have to push them. Okay, up in the treble range. And all this kind of thing. woodwinds you're gonna use the clarinets, the oboe and the flute, again, not not the bassoon, and again, typically push them high, you segregate everything, by frequency, and the metal band is on the lower frequency because that's what you hear.

And the orchestra is on the higher frequency. And this way, they will not disturb each other and everything is gonna heard properly. That will be the first thing. The second thing is that when in most metal, you're already hitting the root and the fifth pretty hard. Okay? So you could it those notes also on the higher frequency in the orchestra. But if you hear only the roots and roots and fifths, you're not going to get much out of it. You need to hit that first somewhere and put in something else the nine typically works really good.

Okay, even the lab and works pretty good. Six and seven stances on the beat jazzier, but honestly, in the right moment, they can work even in metal. Okay, so you want to think that so, harmonically speaking, you want to think that yes, but a really cool thing to do is that if you can write a melody, and then have unison's of instruments playing this melody or even octaves of instrument point is Melody.

So if you can, if you have your rhythm section, so guitar, bass and drum playing the rhythm, the singer is singing a melody typically. And if you can write a counter melody, so right like a counterpoint of that, or something that accompany when the singers takes a breath, the other instrument you can just arrange these in octaves. So really not not as hard. Okay, develop is an octave violins by an octave above and the next violin plays an octave above.

And then you put that in on the clarinet and with the viola, the oboes with the second violins and the flute with the first violin, the usual typical ordinary, which of those things, and they just play a unique sound that adds a lot of color.

And it's super easy to arrange. Okay. Right. And that's all you can divide the violin the violins, there's the strings play the accompaniments of the chord, and the woodwinds play the melody, or vice versa. Okay. And again, many segregate both for pitch, and timber. So one section plays the one yet when when family plays the region when the chord mode harmony in general, and one section plays the melody, the harmony does not have to be only long notes, because everybody writes like and you know, home notes all the time, right?

I have a G chord, okay, g v, the, no, all those instruments are great at playing rhythm, just like on the guitar, you gotta if not 2343, okay, if you have ridden the strings can just double this rhythm. Only with a full chord maybe, or call with extension, especially violins, we love by law points. Okay, all these kinds of things. Make sense? Yes. Good. And then again, you can already have any staff for orchestra.

So you have an idea of the different peculiarity of the instruments like the violins can do repeated not that easily great. The woodwinds, not so much. Okay, not at the same point, but they can have the flatter staff the double tonguing. But to do something like on a fluid, it's not going to end well. And then this kind of thing. As for the brass, the brass are better left out and unless you do the horn part, like, you don't know what the horn part is, it's a jargon term to say okay, long notes on the horn.

Oh, yeah. And make it a chord and typically have a triad and the top and bottom note are the same as the same note an octave apart, okay, or you can play a seventh or seventh or ninth or something but typically that's the triad with top and bottom being the same that those fill up a lot and but the risk to be overshadowed by the electric guitar percussions low percussion are right out unless you want the big explosion in with the with the with the key with the big one. Okay.

But otherwise not because the you have the drums already, but maybe the high ones can work one thing I noticed that most people don't do when they arranger orchestra for more than music that they don't use the high frequencies enough. And that's full of stuff in high frequency. Yeah, you have the flute and piccolo I don't know The height of the violin and you can now buy that money.

So the violin sounds amazing when you're arranging, you have all the metal percussion. So like the triangle and the glockenspiel. And then you have the xylophone, which is not the metal, but Okay, those cut through everything. So use them because on a metal song, you have the bigger middle, low frequency and enough thing there, have all this space where you can put new stuff. And you can have them do whatever figuration you want, and it will sound crystal clear because it cuts through everything else. Because the only thing in the frequency is the hi hat.

That's tricky. That's totally free. So you have to think in terms of what part of the spectrums are free and working there and give them good material. Not just long, nice. Yes. Okay. So that's in a few minutes, how to do it. Alright, thank you.

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