Assembly/Delivery is a 3-minute piece for Chamber Orchestra that I wrote and produced in June of 2019. My first foray into writing for chamber orchestra, I found the prospect daunting at first, but I knew the piece would revolve around marimba, which I used as my way into the piece. I loaded up a marimba sample and started to improv on my keyboard. The central Marimba line came out very quickly, though it required extensive cleaning and culling to make it a more cohesive and organized line. Next up, when I felt I’d exhausted that idea, was the trumpet line in the second “section”. I don’t feel that writing melody is my strength (yet…) and I’m far more apt to write extended chordal progressions (see: the first half of the piece) but I wanted to have a solo trumpet melody in the piece and I didn’t know that it would fit over the marimba line. Once the framework was in place, I began to flesh out ideas, writing counter-lines and adding harmonic support, primarily with woodwinds in the first section and leaning heavily on the trombones and horns in the second part.
All the instruments, except for the piano, are from EastWest’s Symphonic Orchestra Gold Complete and Hollywood Orchestral Percussion Diamond collections. The piano is The Giant, which is a Native Instruments Kontakt instrument included in Komplete. The full track list is…extensive, and many of the instruments are keyswitched for further depth, but the full instrumentation (which can be found on page 2 of the score, below) is: 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb, 2 Trombones, 1 Timpani player, 2 Percussion players (who play Marimba, Vibraphone, Finger Cymbals, Wood Block, and Orchestral Chimes), Harp, Piano, and Strings (Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Double Bass).
You can also download the full score as a PDF here.
It was truly a joy working on this piece, from the beginning to the very end. It also became a lesson in the benefit of walking away from the work for a bit. I began the project in Logic, sequencing the MIDI instruments, and waiting until I thought the piece was 98% finished before exporting to Finale and beginning to construct the score. But as I stepped away from the piece in MIDI format and started seeing notes on (digital) paper, I started seeing the piece differently - literally. I was noticing holes in my orchestration, noticing where instrument cut-offs weren’t lining up in the most successful way, and places where I could further expand the orchestral sound. Which of course meant I had to go back into the Logic to enact what I’d re-orchestrated on the page.
This project was my final project for Berklee College’s Online “Orchestration I” course. At the start of the 12-week course, I’d never touched Finale, I’d never written a piece for acoustic instruments. I could probably count on one hand the number of my previous compositions that involved an acoustic instrument - one finger if you don’t count the electric guitar (and that piece was also centered on the marimba. I sense a theme.) I’m really proud of the work I put into this course and how much I expanded my musicianship and “toolkit” in the 12 weeks. Onwards and upwards!