On Paradiso ... what was the most crucial part as far as the orchestration goes?
Answered by Edgar Froese
There were both major and minor problems. To name them all here would take half of the FAQ on this Site. After composing most of the stuff on a grand piano and arranging everything on synth modules and plugs, the two hour and eight minute long piece had to be arranged for a 58 piece orchestra, for solo voices, a choir and couple of solo instruments. The conductor I worked with is a pretty experienced guy and generally easy to work with. But one should know that such an orchestra arrangement where synths and acoustic instruments aren’t battling against each other, but are rather melting into one great body of sounds, is a real sensitive experience you have to fight through.
Of course, it is not enough to assign the synth voices to the orchestra instruments, to note double layers or, if necessary, transpose keys, when piano tunes shall be played with a flute. Of course, these basic capacities are requirements that must be fulfilled by all the participants. A problematic point is the use of so-called ornaments, which is part of the playing technique of orchestra instruments, if the ornaments sound constructed, kitschy or spoil the composition of the sound. Compared to the synthetic sound, the dynamic composition of the acoustic sound is very difficult. On the synthesizer, you just use a few buttons in order to change immediately a frequency picture or the volume or you in order to program exactly a crescendo or a filter graph. An orchestra cannot be controlled with buttons used for giving global orders. Besides, in an orchestra, people are always playing ad libitum, that means that, in spite of the conductor and the timing requirements, there is a permanent “human imprecision”. When the orchestra is playing alone, you will hardly notice this imprecision. If the bass note of a sequencer runs parrallelly, all the imprecision is remorselessly uncovered. Much to the disappointment of the poor orchestra musicians who actually play as well as they usually do. Taking all this into account and, in addition, changing the speed of the music 15 times with partly perfect accelerando phases of 2 minutes, are just some examples of problems which could finally be solved.