There is no doubt in my mind that a gamelan is an orchestra. But it’s an orchestra of a different type with its own history and its own limitations on its flexibility and hence on its repertoire. We don’t do Beethoven (just as Garfield doesn’t do mice).
I love the sound of a loud rock band when it’s good. I also love the sound of an orchestra when it’s playing a great piece well.
I have heard composers say that they love the sounds of real violins and clarinets (as if I do not), and that they would rather get a real symphony orchestra to play their compositions. Oh, yes, I think to myself, just run out and get a symphony orchestra. Why not? (And then, see if you can also obtain the rights to sell or broadcast the recording if you are fortunate enough to get a performance.)
Does the virtual orchestra simply imitate the acoustic one? Yes and no is my answer. Yes, in the sense that the principles of orchestral balance, blend, weight, and transparency still apply. This is a function of orchestration, but also is a function of engineering and mastering.
|Steven R. Gerber:
The currently popular approach to orchestration calls for as much color as possible, as many different instruments as possible, often as much noise as possible, and above all as much percussion as possible… Nevertheless, I prefer a different approach, believing like Robert Frost that “In art, a little bit of anything goes a long way.”
I always plunged into orchestration only after composing the complete two or three staff version of every score.
When I arrange for an ensemble, I think both about the instruments and the specific players. I might choose a certain instrumentation but then I think about the personal sound each musician makes and consider that when I am orchestrating.
I approach composing and orchestrating for big band in a way that might be considered unusual. Instead of delineating each section, I try to dissolve the obviousness of sections…