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Chopin's Ballade No. 1 for Orchestra (NotePerformer+BBCSO)

Timothy Schmidt

Orchestral Composer
Hey all! Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor is probably my all-time favorite piano piece, and I've thought for years that it'd make a great orchestra work. I took an orchestration class in the spring, and an assignment in that finally forced me to start this significant undertaking. Finally completed the arrangement in August and just posted it on my YouTube channel yesterday! Would love to know what you all think, especially my fellow Chopin fans out there :)


A little bit about my orchestration process:

I have drawn primarily from the orchestration techniques of Beethoven and Berlioz in their Symphony No. 5 and Symphonie Fantastique, respectively. Thickly-scored passages follow German-style orchestration in which combinations of differing timbres create an overall new “orchestra” sound, while lightly-scored passages are inspired heavily by French-style orchestration in which differing timbres are isolated and highlighted. The overall sound aims for a high romantic aesthetic, though my experience with film music likely tilts the style a bit more toward the cinematic romantic idiom than a purely classical one.

As for the arrangement itself, I left most of the source material unaltered, following the principle that as much of the piece should match exactly the notes on the piano score as possible. That being said, I did make changes where I deemed passages should be more idiomatic to the orchestra. Generally, these consist of the simplification of some runs and arpeggios that, while easy on the piano, can be communicated more easily and effectively by orchestral musicians using alternative gestures. Additionally, dynamic markings are adjusted mildly throughout, tempo markings are more abundant to facilitate a more cohesive yet still expressive ensemble experience, and the register of some phrases is shifted upward to minimize repetitiveness.

The sound you're hearing is all NotePerformer, with the exception of the timpani and bass drum which come from BBCSO Core. I adjusted panning and some instrument volumes to taste, but otherwise both libraries are pretty close to out of the box. Some light processing and reverb was added during the mixing process.

- Timothy Schmidt
 

Rob

stale member
indeed the piece lends itself to orchestration, good job! NP always surprises me, its limitations notwithstanding, especially how organic it sounds...
 
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Timothy Schmidt

Timothy Schmidt

Orchestral Composer
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indeed the piece lends itself to orchestration, good job! NP always surprises me, its limitations notwithstanding, especially how organic it sounds...
Thank you! Yes, NotePerformer is such an interesting piece of software - most of the time it really adds a lot of organic character to a piece, with little or no effort on my part. Sometimes there's that one note or instrument that just doesn't sound quite right, though - like in this piece, I couldn't get a good sound out of some of the percussive gestures, hence my switch to BBCSO for timpani and bass drum. With each update, the oddities become fewer!
 
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