Hi I'd like to learn more about classical form, instrumentation and orchestration rather than theory. I'm not a beginner and I've studied music formally so I have the theoretical side down pretty well, but I'd like to know about the differences between a sonata, a concerto or a symphony for example. A book would be ideal, as I'd really like to study this stuff instead of just reading up a bit on the internet.

I'd also like to learn about instrumentation, for example I'd like to write something with strings, but I'm not sure what instruments and in what quantities are correct in the classical sense. I know that a common string quartet is made up of two violins, a viola and a cello, but I'd like to learn about different arrangements as well.

And I'm not a classical musician, and I realistically don't expect to become a competent one. But I'm interested in learning more about it. So keep in mind that I'm studying this just out of curiosity, and you don't have to take it too seriously.

^Berry is really solid. I'm not totally sure you need anything that academic though. Frankly, Wikipedia is a great source for things like this and ultimately any information is just a starting point because the real work is diving into the literature and doing the listening. Even still, Wiki has good articles on basic forms and will probably be all that you need. And you can always ask here if there's anything you don't get.

As for instrumentation it doesn't matter. There are standard groups of instruments like the string quartet and the piano trio and stuff, but it's not really relevant to anything. You should choose instrumentation based on what you want to accomplish in a piece. If you want to write something with strings then do it. It doesn't matter how other people did it. Composers who wrote for orchestra prior to the 20th century would've written five string parts (violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, bass). Ligeti wrote like 30 string parts because yolo.
As far as the part about instrumentation, there is no correct answer. The number of each instrument varies considerably depending on the intentions of the composer.

In larger orchestras, the number of different instruments generally reflects the overall desired tonality. If a composer or arranger wants a low end heavy sound, they would use more lower instruments, especially low brass, cellos, and timpani. If you want a higher end sound, more flutes and violins and such.

Think of it as being like EQ settings. If you want more low end, you turn up the bass knob. But if you get too much bass, it becomes muddy and overwhelming.

An orchestra works the same way, but instead of being able to increase frequencies with electronics, you have to add or subtract the instruments in that frequency range.

In general though larger instruments are louder and the low end cuts through a bit, so there tends to be more higher instruments compared to their lower counterparts.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
+1 to JRF.

I'm a fan of the Adler textbook too, but again, something that academic probably isn't needed.

I always used that stuff as guidelines and then just yolo'd everything else.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Okay, thanks a lot. I could see if I can find the books in shops or at the library around here and see if it's too much. I could always read stuff on wikipedia and then fill the gaps with more academic books if I need to.

And it's good to see that the instrumentation isn't that big of a deal, it certainly gives more freedom. The 5 string arrangement that JFR mentioned is pretty much what I've been thinking of, but I wasn't sure if it was at all common to write for it. And thanks theogonia, I'll keep that advice in mind.

And there so much yolo here that I might use it for my sig.
Last edited by Kevätuhri at Mar 8, 2015,