Anybody ever worked with an orchestra?

Discussion in 'Gretsch-Talk Music' started by Rob_Brindley, Jan 13, 2021 at 4:06 AM.

  1. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    Bit of a strange question, but hear me out...

    I've written a few tracks that I would love get an orchestra to play on - similar to BSO in style (but nowhere near as good). I'm not great with the theory side of stuff, I don't read/write music and I've never worked with an orchestra before. I'm curious if any of the members here have had any experience recording with an orchestra?

    What's required? (Instruments / Sheet music etc...)
    What do you think the minimum setup required is to get the sound I want? (Do I really need a 17 piece band for recording or could I multitrack the same trumpet / sax player 3 or 4 times

    Lastly, erm... Does anybody know an orchestra?

    I've wanted to do this for years and have been slowly writing songs with it in mind, but I've got no idea how to actually go about it. I've got no intention of actually gigging the orchestra setup - the logistics and cost of that would be enormous! I just like the idea of putting together an EP / Album's worth of tracks for fun. Who doesn't like a challenge?
     
    Floo likes this.
  2. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    Well, you are in for the experience of a lifetime.
    If you don't read/write yourself you will need a competent assistant who can.
    Sheet music for the "orchestra " comes in about 5or 6 sets. Remember each brass instrument can have a different key with different parts, as well as bass staff and vocalists,
    None of them want to see what the other players need.
    Most of the instruments are single note pieces and your chords mean nothing to many of the players. In fact they clutter up the sheets.
    I recently got invited to play bass with an Orchestra. I got about 100 songs in bass clef. No lyrics, no chords just lines of bars with intro, sign, coda info key and tempo information.

    My advice would be to get a good synth which can produce great string, brass, keyboard and anything else you want just by playing your guitar.
    To do what you want you will need a good orchestra and they won't come cheap and you will take a long time to get near where you imagine at the outset.
     
  3. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    Thanks for the advice! I understand it's going to be a huge amount of work to do it properly, but I'm not really interested in doing some half baked attempt with synths. If we're going to record these songs, we want to do it with a live orchestra all playing together. We have a friend who's played in brass sections before that will hopefully be able to sit with us translate what we want to sheet music... I'm putting together demos with a midi controller to give us an idea, but nothing will beat the live instrument sound.

    I've wanted to do this for years and I think we're finally going to make a go of it...
     
    Taco Cat likes this.
  4. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    I guess our band is considered an Orchestra :

    [​IMG]
    A+!
     
  5. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    62
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Rob , after seeing some of your video's ....you got this . My buddy Mitch ( since high school days ) has a band called " Kick Start Charlie ". He's the front man / lead singer . He's got only 3 horns in the band and they do a great job . Imagine what you can do with an orchestra . Find them on You Tube for a little inspiration .
     
    mrfixitmi and Rob_Brindley like this.
  6. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    @hcsterg That's awesome! Are you guys playing original stuff or covers? Any links to videos / recordings?

    @thunder58 - Thanks bud - I'll definitely check them out! I don't think I'll ever be able to gig this set up regularly (getting 4 of us together is a nightmare, let alone 17!) but I'd love to record it all properly. My current plan is to write the songs (I'm already a ways into that as I've been gathering stuff together for a few years now) and record demos for each of them at home to send to the band leader and give us something to work with. We'll have to sit down and score everything properly to send to the musicians, but getting all of us together for multiple rehearsals seems impractical (And bloody difficult to find a large enough space!). The idea is to send the demos and sheet music out to each musician so they can learn the tracks at home, and then bring it all together for the recording. I think we'll probably record the usual band (2 x guitar, bass, drums & vocals) first, and then record the brass section separately. If I get my way, I'll film and document the whole thing for youtube / facebook vids. Maybe a little online diary or one longer video to release after the album is done.

    On the recording side, I'm gonna have to rely on the studio a lot for their knowledge as I haven't done anything like this before. I don't know whether it's best to record trumpets, Sax and Trombones separately or all together? I don't know whether you'd want to mic instruments individually, overhead each section or both? (Perhaps better to do both so we can choose / mix after if we have the resources to do it). I'm not even sure what the setup would be for getting playback of the base track to 12 musicians... I can't even begin to image the complexity of mixing this set up, either.

    The studio we normally use simply isn't big enough to record all the brass instruments together in there so we're looking at recording the core band at the regular studio and hiring a nearby venue for a day or so to record the brass. They offer live recordings of any gigs performed there and the room has a great sound!

    It's all conjecture at the minute as there's a heap of work that's got to be done before we get anywhere close to recording these tracks, anyway.

    Wouldn't it be cool to gig with this... I'd love to go out and do a 45 min regular Ignition set and then an hour or so with the big band.

    Rob
     
    Floo likes this.
  7. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    62
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    would love to see it :)
     
  8. Floo

    Floo Country Gent

    Dec 16, 2012
    Elmshorn, Germany
    Very cool idea, although it requires lots of work. My band has only two saxophone players, but they each have two different saxes (baritone and tenor - alto and c-melody), one sometimes plays trumpet and both play flute in one tune. Both read music, one of them does the arranging/notation. We are in the beginning of recording our original tunes and I want them to play up to four saxes or two to three saxes and one trumpet on some of the tunes. Both are having their own microphone but will play at the same time to get a good groove when recording.
    What I'm trying to say: you need someone to arrange the horns. You can do the recording with maybe two or three saxophone players, one trumpet player and one trombone when they each play two or more tracks. And you should find an engineer you trust to do the mixing. It's an art of its own.
     
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  9. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Age:
    57
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Do yourself a favor-- If you have no experience with arranging strings and horns, find a competent arranger to chart the orchestra parts for the strings and horns. It's not impossible to do yourself but it can be extremely time consuming and often ends up being a nightmare for the composer. You need someone with a strong background in working music theory who can listen to your musical ideas and arrange the appropriate parts. Most orchestral players depend heavily on accurate charts, as they are accustomed to traditionally structured performance pieces. In fact, most orchestral groups (even something as small as a traditional string quartet) won't even think of performing a piece without charts.
     
    Gretschmen65 and mrfixitmi like this.
  10. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Thanks @Rob_Brindley ! :)

    Yes, we do both : original stuff written by our conductors and covers arranged by them (we have 3, shifting from player to conductor). The bands has an average of 25-30 members. We are all amateurs except for 2 of the conductors, which are the Director and one of the Teachers of Music85, our music school.

    The band is called Magic 85 Orchestra, and a few videos can be found on youtube :

    Below some moments of your 2013 concert edition in Jazz à Vienne :


    Here is a cover of "Another Way to Die" from 2015, recorded "correctly" (it took us a full Saturday plus late in the night though) :


    Since the C-19 events, absolutely no reharsal nor concerts are allowed for us, so we started some kind of "COVID Sessions" : Our conductor send us a "click" file, then we all record and film our part synchronized, and we return it all for video assembly.

    We also unsuccesfully tried to play "live, real-time" online with the free Zoom Video Conferencing. It did not worked, notably because of unbearable and random lagging connections issues, making any real-time synchronisation impossible.

    Here is a "To Love Somebody" cover from April 2020, where I play some Lap Steel :


    And "Can't Hold us" cover from January 2021 (in a more funny way :D) :


    A+!
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021 at 10:45 AM
    Rob_Brindley, radd and mrfixitmi like this.
  11. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    Thanks @Floo - I'd be very interested to hear your complete recordings. We're toying with the idea of using 2 Sax players doing multiple parts, purely to keep the costs down. But, I kind of want to experience the sound of a 12 piece brass section all working together... I've recorded for bands before where I turn up at a studio, play a part on my own and leave. When Ignition record, we usually record the whole rhythm section in one go and then overdub vocals / lead guitar - It just feels so much better doing it that way. Ultimately, a lot will come down to cost. If I can get competent local musicians to do the parts, that will significantly reduce the costs. If I have to bring people in from further afield and deal with overnight stays for them, I wont have enough in the budget for as many musicians. It's certainly going to be a learning experience.

    Absolutely. I've sent out a few emails to people we know today and got in contact with a couple of local big bands to see if they'd be interested in the project. I'm not sure what response I'll get as I don't want to use their rhythm section, but they'd certainly have the experience to produce the sound I want and would likely bring some good ideas of their own to the project, too! I learned a long time ago that, if you want to improve your ability, surround yourself with people who are better than you are. I'll be the driving force behind the project, but I'd love to get somebody onboard who has the experience and learn from them in the process. I'm not a theory guy and it's definitely going to be a clash of cultures when it comes to recording these tracks. Ignition don't normally play to a click, but I think for this project we're going to have to. Hopefully the process of making the demos will help to iron out some of the creases.

    Rob.
     
    Floo likes this.
  12. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    There's one thing you haven't mentioned yet---who's paying for this?
    Studio time is one (expensive) thing. So are the wages for techs and musicians.
    There are myriad problems involved with any large group undertaking, but, the payoff could be seriously impressive. I wish you luck.
     
  13. flip

    flip Gretschie

    104
    Jun 22, 2020
    Manchester UK
    Interesting thread.
    You start by writing about orchestra which I took to be strings, brass, woodwinds etc, then it morphed into a big band. The two don't mix so before you spend money I'd decide which. Think Buble who's worked with both.

    Read about The Wrecking Crew (or my own book, The Guitarist, a novel on Amazon, he wrote immodestly) and you'll read that before they emerged (and they're really jazz people) the studio recording players were musos from the NY or LA symphonies moonlighting. Apart from a few - Glen Campbell comes to mind - Wrecking Crew/orchestra/band players are readers and you'll have to provide them charts. If you don't write you'll have to pay an arranger and a copyist. Could begin to get expensive.

    In truth, it's going to cost you big, really big to buy fully pro orchestra/band plus studio.

    Cheaper options would be student/youth band or orchestra if you're in a big city. If the idea doesn't frighten you, maybe consider a brass band? Many have youth bands attached to them.

    If the band/orch is good enough they'll have their own balance. That means you can record with just three good mics on a Decca triangle or whatever they're called these days. I was at the final of the UK's top Brass Band competition many years ago and watched the BBC set up for the broadcast by the champion band - with three mics! If you can afford 80 mics for an 80-piece band then go for it but if the band's good enough you'll be spending unnecessary money and if they're not you'll be spending a fortune in editing time. I've recorded both ways, trust me.

    I'd endorse the synth suggestion at least to ensure that your arrangements are right.

    What I can tell you doesn't work - 'cos I know the studio engineer in a big Manchester studio who tried it many years ago, the multi-track recording of a violin 20 times doesn't sound like the first violin section, it sounded like... If you can't afford 20 violinists you might try a chorus pedal/machine but seriously why not start with a quartet?

    Finally, I know a very talented young musician (trumpeter) who recorded a multipart song for his university finals - all sung a capella - listen at:
    https://soundcloud.com/markharrisontrumpet/go-the-distance
    Or
    https://soundcloud.com/markharrisontrumpet/o-holy-night-m-sync

    As always in music, don't give up.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021 at 12:27 PM
    Gretschmen65 likes this.
  14. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    A big 6120 with a full orchestra, I love it. I can listen to BS with his all day long.

    @Rob_Brindley I hope you do it
     
    Sabato likes this.
  15. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    @radd thanks bud - it's definitely on the cards. I've wanted to it for years. I'm 25 years younger than the other guys in the band and they always joke that they'll come and see my big band when they retire :D:D:D I'm glad it looks like we're goong to get the chance to have them involved, though. The Ignition boys are like family and I love the sound we get together.


    Don't want to go into too many details about the band's finances, but it wont be a problem. There's 4 of us in the band. Every gig, the fee is divided into 5. 20% for each member and the remaining 20% goes in the pot. It pays for all of our recording, PA or consumables so we rarely have to dip into our own pockets for stuff like this. If we do have, we fund it ourselves. Once we get the return, we recover our own personal costs first and then divide the remainder between the 4 of us :) We're aware of the cost of recording which is why we do it this way. You don't really miss the 5% each gig, but that 20% total each gig really adds up.
     
    radd and wabash slim like this.
  16. Rob_Brindley

    Rob_Brindley Gretschie

    Age:
    27
    254
    Jul 22, 2019
    Stoke-On-Trent, England
    Sorry @hcsterg , I missed you reply earlier. I really that version of another way to die! You guys sound great. Would definitely come and see you guys if you ever get to the UK :)
     
  17. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Thanks @Rob_Brindley ! ;)

    We have been to Germany several times, but never crossed the Channel... :(

    In Germany, we played and backed (à la Setzer Orchestra) a little Rockabilly band : Lucky13, from Nürtingen. They also came to France to play with us : great moments, cool friends !

    A+!
     
  18. GVDobler

    GVDobler Synchromatic

    797
    May 15, 2011
    Las Vegas
    I'm a numbers guy. I would set a budget of say $20,000 and see what can be done for that and adjust from there. Being in Las Vegas I have know many orchestra members that were displaced when recorded sound took over the showrooms. It was sad to see live music go.

    Sounds like a great project.
     
  19. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Gretschie

    259
    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    As @flip suggested, find a local community or youth band. Before the pandemic I was playing bassoon in our local orchestra, "director's choice" in our junior college Concert Band, and trombone in a not-for-profit Big Band (gig fees collected, other than what is needed to pay for charts and equipment, go to music school scholarships). All three groups have members running the gamut from current/former touring or session pros to kids who are just getting started, and everything in between. If you put the word out to your music community you will likely be pleasantly surprised. And many of us amateurs work cheap! In fact, I've never made a dime from playing music, but it sure is good for my soul (though not my wallet).
     
  20. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    With an orchestra, you'll have a whole new world of musician jokes at your disposal.
    You'll also need to mop the floor where the brass section sits.
     
    MrWookiee likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.