Berkleemusic Debuts Orchestration 2 On April 6

Mar 18, 2009 3:25 PM


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photo of Ben Newhouse

Pictured at Record Plant Recording Studios in Hollywood is instructor Ben Newhouse., the online continuing education division of Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music, is now offering an Orchestration 2 course for the first time. Building on the techniques presented in Orchestration 1, which covers the individual orchestral instruments and families, Orchestration 2 equips students with advanced strategies and approaches to writing for full orchestra. Author, Berklee professor, and composer/orchestrator Ben Newhouse designed and wrote the curriculum and will teach the online course in Berkleemusic's spring term, beginning April 6.

"Having taught both at Berklee in Boston and online with my Digital Performer courses, I have found that certain subjects really lend themselves to an interactive Internet experience; Orchestration 2 is a perfect example," explains Newhouse. "In this new course, students will be studying in a virtual classroom alongside established professionals from the music composition and production community. What better way to learn, exchange ideas and begin the networking that is so vital to a career in orchestration?"

Each of the 12 weekly lessons addresses a common issue in orchestra music, from making orchestration choices based on the tone color of the various instruments, to voicing chords and progressions. The course also presents an in-depth look at orchestrating from single-layer material, such as solos and homophonic statements, to complex textures of four or more layers—music that is too complex to fit into a traditional melody/countermelody/harmony format.

"Working as an orchestrator can create a very healthy revenue stream as you build a career," Newhouse says. "It can be a fulfilling career in itself as you work with established composers, but you also gain an understanding of how the composer must interface with the producers and directors."

In Orchestration 2, examples are first presented as simplified sketches, allowing students to compare a passage for full orchestra with a simpler, piano-only version. This process allows students to see the process that well-known composers took from start to finish. Course materials are delivered in the form of reading assignments, musical examples, and interactive activities. The musical examples are framed in an engaging interactive interface, which combines the notation with the audio. All material is supplemented with hands-on guidance from the professor.

"There are features of this course that you will find nowhere else," explains Newhouse. "The Berklee online design team did a great job of creating animated diagrams and visual elements that combine—in real time—the notation with a graphical representation of the music and the audio, all simultaneously. This aspect alone is a tremendous leap forward in interactive music education and greatly accelerates the learning experience."

By the end of Orchestration 2, students will be able to sequence and notate music for full orchestra; create a full-length piece for full orchestra; analyze full orchestral scores; and demonstrate their understanding of traditional and contemporary orchestration techniques.

Visit to learn more about Orchestration 2.

Learn more about Ben Newhouse at

To enroll for the spring term, visit

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