The Guide to MIDI Orchestration [4th Edition] (Book Review) 
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Written by Noah Fleming   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010

MIDI orchestration is an integral part of today's film scoring.  It is cost effective and allows for more trial and error.  MIDI has been around for quite some time, and as this book proves, it is getting stronger in film scoring.

"The Guide to MIDI Orchestration" is now in its fourth edition.  It originally debuted in 1997.  While I have now strict basis for comparison from the previous edition of the book, considering the last edition was released in 2004, this edition is a welcome update.  Several new and updated technologies have been released in the past several years.  This book attempts to briefly cover some of them.

However, this book is structured for a music orchestration course and not a technology course.  The first two thirds of the book deals solely with the structure of an orchestra.  The author nicely separates an orchestra into chapters on Strings, Winds, Brass, Percussion and Piano.  As these are the primary groupings of an orchestra it helps to separate the elements.

The book begins with an introduction about composers, orchestra setup and suggested listening.  It then jumps right into the sections of an orchestra.  Chapters eight and nine are the primary technology chapters.  The Equipment chapter briefly touches on CPU, RAM, HDD, audio interfaces, word clock, software, monitoring and several other technology components.  The other chapter briefly discusses the two basic options when recording MIDI note data.

The book then continues with another block of chapters that deal with sequencing techniques for each of the primary orchestra sections.  The final chapters touch on a range of issues, none of them gone into in depth.  There is information about effects plugins (reverb, EQ, Compression, etc.), software samplers (Kontakt, EXS24), the use of Sampled Voices and the Mix Process.

The Mix Process chapter is an excellent source of information.  While the chapter primary using Nuendo as the mix source it does cover some good uses of the Waves plugins.  This chapter also has terrific images that complement the text nicely.

Following chapters touch on the Vienna MIR software, mastering, as well as creating moods and software libraries.  The Mastering chapter contains brief but informative writeups by Mastering Engineers including Bob Ludwig and Bob Katz.

"The Guide to MIDI Orchestration" is a welcomed text in the field of film scoring.  It makes for a great teaching tutorial.  However, its hardcover increases the cost for students.  Still, I would have to recommend this text for teachers of orchestration and ensemble.

There is no supplemental CD/DVD included with this text.

"The Guide to MIDI Orchestration" (4th Edition)
Written by: Paul Gilreath
Published April 2010
Focal Press (a division of Elsevier)
582 pages

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