What is orchestration?

Orchestration is the art form of assigning musical parts to different instruments. If composing a piece on piano is like sketching, then orchestration is like coloring that sketch. Traditionally, “orchestration” implies that you are assigning parts to instruments in a full orchestra (violins, flutes, trumpets, and so on). However, you could “orchestrate” for any combination of instruments. Orchestration is a great skill to have in conjunction with arranging and composing.

Here’s an example of orchestration. During my final year at Berklee College of Music, I was elected to compose, orchestrate, and conduct an original piece of music for a large ensemble in a live performance. Here’s a brief excerpt of the piece I wrote played on piano:

The performance was video recorded, so you can see and hear the final result. When compared to the piano version, you can hear the larger breadth of sound, the variety of musical color:

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