One of the many positive aspects of the internet, is having so much information readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and reachable from any part of the world. If you are always on the look for orchestration or instrumentation information, you are definitely going to like the following website. “The Orchestra: A User’s Manual“, is a powerful online resource for composers, orchestrators, students, useful to anyone with an interest in orchestras and orchestral music or anyone learning to play an instrument. It was conceived and written by Andrew Hugill in 2002-3 and the project was commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra.
On the site, players from the Philharmonia Orchestra explain the nature and technical limitations of their instruments with the intention to represent a realistic picture of the orchestra. The great thing about the site, is the use of video clips for explanations. The manual includes information about instrument construction, ranges, techniques, effects, and extended player’s tips and tricks, as well as resources, historical information and pointing to other helpful links.
The following paragraph is a description taken from the site:
“The aim of the user’s manual is to provide information about the orchestra, orchestration, composition and instruments, for the benefit of anybody with an interest in the subject. Unlike conventional text-based orchestration manuals, this features movies of players explaining relevant aspects of their instruments and technique, audio clips and samples of the instruments, and illustrative music from the repertoire drawn from the Philharmonia’s postwar recorded archive. The Philharmonia is the most recorded orchestra in history and from its birth in 1945 has been associated with new technologies. This use of the internet to convey information is entirely consistent with its desire to open up access to all areas of orchestral life and music-making.”
The Orchestra: A User’s Manual is one element of ‘The Sound Exchange‘, a site that provides opportunities for people to learn about the orchestra, about music and exploit the internet to help widen access to the orchestra.