Tips for writing orchestral pieces – Part III: Texture

  • Chords

One note usually won’t do as a texture. Your texture should consist of several different notes, namely the chord notes and related notes. Unlike in the bass, full chords are permitted and desired.

  • Instruments

Violins, Violas and Cellos go nicely together when making a texture since they all have a similar timbre. As for woodwinds, make sure to use more of one kind rather than combining all. That is, instead of a combination of one clarinet, oboe and flute, rather use three clarinets or two clarinets and one other woodwind. It will give a much nicer blend. Mixing strings and woodwinds is possible and usually sounds well. French Horns are also very much capable of producing a nice texture.

  • Dynamics

As mentioned, the focus should be on the melody. Still, there should be some dynamics in the texture. It is not just “laying out” the chords. Couple the progression and transitions in the texture with the bass line and the melody. And make sure such transitions are audible, for example by doubling with another instrument or increasing volume of the texture for the time the transitions takes place.

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