This week I came across a really nice set of “Masterclass” videos done by the members of the London Symphony Orchestra. While of course working with a performer is the

optimal way to collaborate, I believe these videos are a great resource. Some of the valuable lessons are:


  • You can see the physicality of playing the instruments.
  • You gain an insight  into the musical decision making
  • A greater understanding of what each instrument does well, common phrasing, and  what types of musical lines the musicians will have practiced and become familiar with.


Here are just a few:






Tip of the week

When writing fast passages of music, one very effective way to make the music much easier to play for the player, while fooling the listener, is to use the orchestration technique  “dovetailing.” What is dovetailing ? Essentially it is the swapping and overlapping  of musical lines between 2 instruments. Let’s take a look at figure one. This could be played be played by one instrument, but may be very difficult or simply slow down the recording/rehearsal session for the player to practice the part. The solution is to divide and to conquer.  Lets look at the following example. Say we have a line like this:

At this tempo   (Quarter note = 130)    it would be on the fast side and could cause some problems for the players if they are sight reading it. Now lets dovetail the music. The result looks like this.




The individual players part would much easier to perform. It gives them a little more time and the sound of the music is not compromised in any way. In fact it could be argued that it is enhanced as it lowers the chances of intonation problems, rushing etc.


Wishing you much musical inspiration



Posted on April 9, 2012 in Music Composition

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About the Author

An award-winning composer, accomplished musician and sonic storyteller, Douglas Gibson resides in New York City, where he composes and gives music composition lessons locally and online worldwide.
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