Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for May 3rd, 2014

The art of harmony

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Portrait of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov by Valentin Serov

The art of orchestration demands a beautiful and well-balanced distribution of chords forming the harmonic texture. Moreover, transparence, accuracy and purity in the movement of each part are essential conditions if satisfactory resonance is to be obtained. No perfection in resonance can accrue from faulty progression of parts…

The composer should picture to himself the exact harmonic formation of the piece he intends to orchestrate. If, in his rough sketch, there exists any uncertainty as to the number or movement of harmonic parts, he is advised to settle this at once. It is likewise essential for him to form a clear idea as to the construction and musical elements of the piece, and to realise the exact nature and limitations of the themes, phrases and ideas he is going to employ. Every transition from one order of harmonic writing to another, from four-part harmony to three, or from five-part harmony to unison, etc., must coincide with the introduction of a new idea, a fresh theme or phrase; otherwise the orchestrator will encounter many unforeseen and insurmountable difficulties.

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Principles of Orchestration

Written by nevalalee

May 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

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