I doing a music exam (GCSE if you know what that is) in which I have to make a musical composition. Composition is by fay my favourite part of music as I find it is what I am best at, so I want to get as close to 100% in this part of the course so I can have a bit of legroom for the parts im not so good at.

The point is I've got many ideas and themes that I'm sure I can fit together quite easily. But I need to know the proper orchestration techniques. I know there are violins 1+2, viola, celli, contra-bass (strings), flute (one or two parts?), basson 1+2, clarinet 1+2, oboe (1 or 2?), then horns 1 + 2 and I know the instruments for brass but not sure how many parts there are, then obviously percussion.

So I guess my question is what are the parts of an orchestra (^ any others?), and any general tips on orchestral composition. Thanks.
It's not necessary to write for a full orchestra at GCSE; I wrote a piece for 2 violins, a cello and a piano, for instance.

Your teacher should be able to help you, and Google turns up a good thread from iBM.
One bit of handy advice: don't throw a bunch of ideas and themes together. Get one theme or idea and compose the hell out of it: fragmentation, inversion, transposition, rhythmic and melodic alteration, interpolation. All I know is that that is what my music teacher likes to see: a really coherently composed piece with a clear theme.
cheers, I dint mean to put 'a bunch of ideas' I have one really good one (in my opinion) and some one or two maby in the relative major.
Different songs have different numbers of parts. Its really up to the composer. Typically what you said is fairly common, but its not wrong to use different instrumentation.
Usually two flutes. Sometimes contrabassoon in addition two basson 1 and 2. Often 4 horn parts. Often 4 trumpet parts (any combination of trumpet and cornette) Trombone 1 2 and 3 and tuba. Also, percussion, harp and piano

Oh yea. Oboe 1 and 2. Also, sometimes english horn.

And 3 clarinet parts.
Last edited by tubatom868686 at Nov 10, 2009,
Don't worry about the number of instruments, worry about the quality of each instrument's music. Like blue_strat said, he wrote a piece for four instruments. Give each instrument a purpose; don't try to give a purpose to each instrument.
Last edited by freakstylez at Nov 11, 2009,
Quote by freakstylez
Give each instrument a purpose; don't try to give a purpose to each instrument.


If you need that extra bit of oomph somewhere just go for long notes, not something that is gonna make it sound anymore busy.

What I found REALLY REALLY helpful was looking at other orchestral scores. Get one of the band teachers at your school to lend you some, even a concert band score would be really great for you to get a look at.

Not every instrument has to have something interesting. But make sure it is adding something that you want. If you have everything, don't put anything more in, it will just sound clumsy, muddy, and will have no clear aim.
You don't have to compose for orchestra until about 2nd year university specialising in composition. Just do a piece for 1 - 3 instruments.