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By Berlioz, Hugh Macdonald

Berlioz's Orchestration Treatise (1843) is a vintage textbook via a grasp of the orchestra, which has now not been to be had in English translation for over a century. it is a publication by way of and approximately Berlioz, because it presents not just a brand new translation but in addition an intensive observation on his textual content, facing the tools of Berlioz's time and evaluating his guide together with his perform. it truly is therefore a research of the excessive craft of the main particular orchestrator of the 19th century.

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Extra info for Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary

Example text

Both appear in Berlioz’s title, although he did not expound the difference between them. Mindful of Ravel’s insistence that the two terms are entirely different, I have retained ‘instrumentation’ for ‘instrumentation’ and ‘orchestration’ for ‘orchestration’ throughout. I have also retained ‘pistons’ and ‘cylinders’, since Berlioz was conscious of the difference between them and had no ready generic term for ‘valves’. Only in the discussion of the valve trombone have I used this English term, where the distinction between pistons and cylinders is not at issue.

The purpose of the present work is first, therefore, to show the range and certain essential details of the mechanism of each instrument, and then to examine the nature of the tone, particular character and expressive potential of each – a branch of study hitherto greatly neglected – and finally to consider the best known ways of grouping them effectively. Beyond that we would be stepping into the domain of inspiration, where only genius may make discoveries and where only genius is allowed to tread.

188–9. 18 Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise Berlioz used the wavy line tremolo once himself, in Herminie (NBE 6: 69, 77). 8 Bowing is of great importance and has a lot of bearing on the sound and expression of phrases and melodies. It must be carefully marked, depending on what effect is intended, using the following signs: d´etach´e, as in Ex. 15a; phrased across the beat in pairs, as in Ex. 15b; long slurs, as in Ex. 15c; staccato or light d´etach´e bowing, single or double, to be played all in one bow with a series of little jerks moving the bow as little as possible on each one, as in Ex.

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