Scoring for Student Ensembles Instrument Items   William Wieland
Playable, playable, playable.
  • Typically, the top players are far better than the rest.
  • Double reeds are rare. (See the right margin for substitutions.)
William Wieland's notes based upon

Instrumentation and Orchestration, 2nd ed.
by Alfred Blatter. New York: Schirmer, 1997.
MT70 .B56 1997

(The book is in the NSU library.)

More information:
  • Writing for Percussion: pp. 372–377
  • Scoring Musical Lines: pp. 329–338
  • Scoring Examples: pp. 338–344
  • Listening Examples: pp. 344–355
Balance — gross generalities to get you started:
  • Strings are soft.
  • Brass are loud, except horns and muted brass.
  • Doubling is usually not louder, but weightier.
  • Learn the dynamic characteristics of each instrument.
  • Two or more low register flutes are less penetrating than a solo flute.
Good Blends:
  • Strings (any combination)
  • Brass (if it's a loud passage, use two horns on each horn line)
  • Single families, e.g. all types of clarinets
  • Flutes and Clarinets
  • Saxophones and Double Reeds

    Note: Woodwinds and percussion have the most diverse timbres.
  • Buttermilk: Milk and Lemon Juice (or Vinegar)
  • High Oboe: Flute, E flat Clarinet, and/or Soprano Sax
  • Low Oboe: Straight-muted Trumpet
  • High Bassoon: Clarinet and Soprano Sax
  • Low Bassoon: Bass Clarinet and Muted Horn
  • Orchestral Bells: Piccolo and Dome of a Cymbal
  • Xylophone: High Clarinets (or cup-muted trumpets)
    and Wood Block (or claves)
The following percussion notes are from Cam Abreu.

Orchestra pieces almost always have a timpani part. Tambourine, cymbal and snare drum are also common in older, melodic music. Use mallet parts in more modern music.

3 Percussion Roles
  1. Bring Out Dynamics (Percussionists can play very loudly and very softly even in rapid alternation. Crescendos and diminuendos can be enhanced with suspended cymbal or tambourine.)
  2. Keep Great Time (marches, rock music, etc.)
  3. Decorate the Sound (Percussion instruments provide unique timbres which can be added to melodies, e.g. triangle, slapstick, bells, etc.)