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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Feb 2019 > ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES


In the first part of our new series, Dave Gale offers some tips for beginners on how to coax a huge orchestral sound out of your DAW, beginning with the biggest orchestral section of all, the strings…
The images throughout this feature were taken at AIR Studios in London during the recording of Spitfire Audio’s Hans Zimmer Strings library, which involved 344 top-tier musicians


We can all agree that when an orchestra gets involved in a music production, it adds a certain level of power to proceedings that you just can’t achieve any other way. The orchestra can be considered a living, breathing, organic collective of instruments, which, just like the development of music technology, has evolved significantly – both technically and musically – since its inception 400-or-so years ago.

The orchestra’s point of origin can largely be traced backed to the musical reign of the genius composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

The extraordinarily prolific Bach could easily be considered the equivalent of the commission-based media composer of his day, composing many works to order throughout his career while developing a complex musical style that laid down many of the harmonic ground rules which we all abide by today.

Always keen to expand his musical horizons, Bach assembled a group of musicians that many consider to be the earliest iteration of the modernday orchestra, although the numbers were considerably smaller back then, and Bach’s group consisted of around 10 players. As history marched on, so too did musical development, and with the onslaught of the classical and romantic eras of Western classical music, so the size of the orchestra grew, with an exponential increase in numbers of players throughout each musical period.


Ranges and transpositions

Upper notes can be exceeded, depending on player

Figure 1

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About MusicTech

The first issue of MusicTech of 2019 is on sale now! This issue we’ve compiled the very best advice, insight, tips and general music making wisdom from our archive of interviewees to arm you with all the knowledge you need to enhance your compositions this year. We’ve also got the first part of a massive guide to scoring and orchestration, interviews with The Streets’ keyboardist Mike Patrick and industry innovators Aston Microphones, a huge review of Cubase Pro 10 and our usual mountain of tutorials, tips and guides. Enjoy the issue!