As instrumentation (including instrumentation ) is called the distribution of the votes of a musical composition to the individual instruments. In an orchestral work, we can speak of orchestration, or orchestration. The theory of instrumentation is called on Instrumentation.


The German term instrumentation is first found in 1807 in the concise Dictionary of Music by H. Chr cooking, just three years later used it ETA Hoffmann in his review of Beethoven 's 5th Symphony. The definitions of the term at that time ranged from " accompanying the vocals " (A. Heyse, 1829) " (write correctly for each instrument ) écrire correctement pour chaque instrument" up to.

Strictly speaking, one can at each music piece on which more than one instrument is involved, talk about the instrumentation: Even in a violin sonata, the decision whether the piano plays the lead vocals and is accompanied by the violin, or vice versa, an instrumentation issue. Richard Strauss has alluded to the importance of the knowledge of typesetting and voice leading for instrumentation when he said to Berlioz's Treatise on Instrumentation wrote in his preface:

Today, under instrumentation is ( for example, " the orchestration of a piano sonata " ) and understood the (orchestra ) Instrumentation of a work can be termed as instrumentation and the arrangement of a work for a different occupation. ( " Gustav Mahler's symphonies are instrumented greater than that of Mozart. " )


The assignment of individual votes on specific instruments is often part of the musical inspiration: The cello theme at the beginning of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, or Till Eulenspiegel 's horn call with Richard Strauss are ideas whose orchestration certainly it seemed clear to the composer from the beginning.

In contrast, on the other hand is the practice of orchestrating a short score, which won more and more important with the growing size of the orchestra in the 19th century. Richard Wagner needed for the composition of his Parsifal almost two years, the sophisticated instrumentation for the short score but took three years to complete.

The recomposition of an orchestral work is usually composed of these two components. An exception is the teamwork that takes place particularly in the development of film music: Here the arranger receives the composer a short score, are recorded in the more or less precise instrumentation needs and has the sole responsibility to orchestrate it as correctly and effectively.

For learning the instrumentation, it is important in addition to detailed knowledge of the instrument customer to develop a good ear for the individual timbres and their combinations. The best training is considered here, the exact study of the scores of works whose sound is familiar to the learner. Good instrumenter also take consideration of the performers of their works: for example, should wind always have breaks in order not to tire too quickly, solo passages on the other hand should not be later to a long silence, so that the musician is well established, and for the change In addition to instruments, the musician should be given enough time.

History of Instrumentation


In the Renaissance compositions were written almost exclusively for the instrument cast that vorfand the composer site. Music from this period is usually not preserved in the form of a prescribed score. The reason is mainly that music pieces were written for each performance (usually with the assistance of the composer ) and subsequent recovery ( which would have provided a unique score) was not provided. But since all the contributors to the performance, the cast was clear anyway, the composer gave up the Record of the obvious. The compositions have been so orchestrated and performed by the composer, their authentic form is but the absence of original scores for us today only difficult to reconstruct.


The oldest traditions of instrumentation based on the assignment of different types of music to certain instruments, which had arisen out of practice: hunting music was played by horns, Shepherd music of flutes and shawm ( oboe ).

In the scores of early Italian operas ( such as Claudio Monteverdi's L' Orfeo ), there are only sporadic references to instrumentation, clear though is that here also are assigned to the different spheres of action certain tones. Later Baroque operas, such as those of Alessandro Scarlatti, have more accurate scores and a varied orchestral treatment. Here are also increasingly typical effects such as tremolo or pizzicato in the strings to express certain emotions.

In France, Jean -Baptiste Lully led briefly on the five-part string writing with obbligato horns and in Germany experimented opera composer Reinhard Keiser as with exceptional wind instruments (such as an aria with five bassoons as an accompaniment ).

Johann Sebastian Bach used in his orchestral works chörige a notation that is probably influenced by the Registrar practice in the Organ Strings form a group, Woodwinds the second and third trumpets and timpani. These choirs are compared with each other and also combined in the tutti, individual instruments are but (apart from decidedly solo work ) rarely taken out of their group sound.

A cast frequently used the High Baroque is to generalbaßgestützten, four-part string writing, in which the voices of the two violins reinforced by oboe, the bass octave by Violonen, reinforced by bassoons as sonic counterweight to the oboes and the harmonies are filled by a harpsichord. This is absolutely typical sound of a baroque orchestra can - depending on the intended splendor - to be extended by additional add -drawn instruments such as drums and trumpets.


The classical orchestra has been heavily influenced by the Mannheim school. The four-part string section of stream was supplemented with pairs used wind instruments such as flutes, oboes and horns, bassoons and clarinets later, were in large ensembles yet added trumpets and timpani.

In the symphonies of Joseph Haydn, there are many locations whose special content results from the instrumentation in the first place: The famous bang in the same symphony is therefore a surprise because timpani and trumpets were hardly used in a classic slow movement. Haydn wrote in his memoirs, the small and tight operating in Esterházy Palace had allowed him to experiment with different musical things, and this statement is intended to also refer to the art of instrumentation, whose mastery he shows in the London symphonies.

Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's personal way of instrumentation, particularly its characteristic treatment of the wind instruments, accounts for a large part of the appeal of his music. She had not only to Ludwig van Beethoven major influence, few details of his art, such as the parallel guidance of the woodwinds in thirds were still imitated by Johannes Brahms.

In the tradition of classical instrumentation developed some chamber works, including works for mixed cast as the Septet by Beethoven and Franz Schubert's Octet.


The emergence of the so-called modern instrumentation will be located generally in the Romantic period, when Carl Maria von Weber with the use of unusual combinations achieved register and new sound effects in Freischütz. Such effects can be found, however, already scattered in the works of the Viennese Classic, so it should rather speak of a development as a birth. At this time also the first major instrumentation textbooks were published and the options for sound formation grew with the development of tools and their options and the size of the orchestra. Since Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, composers have installed a machine with over a hundred musicians who have all sorts of side instruments available and can reproduce even the most subtle combinations of sounds reasonable.


In the 20th century, works were created, in which the instrumentation entirely in the foreground: Ravel's Boléro lives alone by the variety of timbres, similar to the third of the Five Pieces for Orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg, in which a chord in various combinations is repeated again and again. Schoenberg coined the term to Klangfarbenmelodie.

Regarding the size of the orchestra, so Strauss turned in Ariadne auf Naxos and Igor Stravinsky in Histoire du soldat to small ensembles back, but they were quite instrumented for the orchestra. Since the second half of the 20th century music pieces are composed on the one hand for conventionally occupied orchestra or chamber music genres, on the other hand, there are countless works that are designed and constructed for a very specific, otherwise rarely used, occupation.

History of Instrumentationslehre

Michael Praetorius Syntagma Musicum gave in with the exact enumeration of all the instruments of his time and their customary use areas, probably the first impetus to make themselves aware of thoughts on the use of different timbres, but he nevertheless wrote an Instrument tuition. Similarly, purely focused on the possibilities of the instruments which a century later following pedagogical works ( like trying a thorough Violinschule or attempted statement, the Playing the Transverse Flute ) were on individual instruments.

First course for instrumentation is at Ludwig K. Mayer ( see ref ) of 1764 by Valentin Roeser published in Paris Essai de l'instruction à l' usage de ceux qui composent pour la clarinet et le cor ( attempt at a guide for those who compose for clarinet and horn ), called a thin little book in which it is received at the tonal combinations in the wind chamber music and the use of the relatively young clarinet.

The detailed theoretical treatment of Instrumentationslehre began only in the mid-19th century: in 1844 published Hector Berlioz 's Grande Traité d' instrumentation et d' orchestration modern ( Great Treatise on the modern instrumentation and orchestration ), which is the first school work of this kind and was revised in 1904 by Richard Strauss. It mainly contains a detailed instrument customer, deal with the range, tone and character of the orchestral instruments and their individual registers, and deals with the problem of different occupations and the number of players in each group, which are suitable for a good dynamic balance.

Went one step further Nikolai Rimsky -Korsakov in 1913 in his Fundamentals of Instrumentation: He also dealt with the possible combinations of different instruments, and the efficient distribution of the individual votes in an orchestra chord, for " unteachable " held Berlioz.

Among recent works of Instrumentationslehre is particularly the thirteen- volume series " The instrumentation " by Hans Kunitz (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, 1956ff ) to call for all orchestral instruments history, tone, timbre, sound combinations and playing techniques with numerous examples from the literature the 20th century ( Orff, Shostakovich ) describes.