Orchestral Textures (Page 1)

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Simple Melody-dominated Homophony

Don’t make your orchestrations too complicated!

Many classical textures just take simple quartet (and even trio) textures and add a mixture of doublings (e.g. the flute plays the same as the first violin) and harmonic filler (e.g. horns play reinforcing chords). Keep it simple at first then you can start being more adventurous by, for example, creating a string texture plus a melody in the woodwind etc.

Stamitz, Trio Symphony in E, Trio from the Minuet

This is the simplest possible string orchestra texture from the late Baroque and early Classical period. The two violins play in thirds or sixths (depending what fits best), the cellos play a bass line and the texture is filled in by a continuo keyboard. The keyboard part would have been improvised from the bass line, but here it has been written out by an editor.


Filtz, Symphonie Periodique No. 2, Minuet

The basic string texture is similar here, although the violin parts are even simpler, playing in unison (as they do in fact in much of the rest of the Stamitz). Note that:

  • the bass part is doubled by the viola
  • the melody is doubled by the flute (Flauto)
  • the horns (2 Corni in A) fill in the harmony, mostly with simple chords


Haydn, Symphony 104, ‘London’, Minuet

  • Flutes, oboes and violins play the melody doubled in thirds
  • Cellos and bassoons play the (pedal) bass line (reinforced by timp.)
  • Clarinets, horns and trumpets fill in the harmony