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Survey on orchestration treatises

Dear colleagues,

We are interested in developing a perceptual and cognitive theory of orchestration, through analysis of the existing literature and new perceptual studies. We are looking for recommendations of sources to consult on the matter.

Our focus is on how orchestral music is perceived, stored in memory and reacted to on æsthetic and emotional levels by listeners. Perceptual notions such as the formation of texture, blend between instruments, division by Gestalt criteria into foreground and background, etc., as well as the formation of larger scale gestures and how to build musical climaxes interest us deeply. To begin our work, we plan an in-depth analysis of orchestration treatises that treat, even implicitly, such notions. Would you therefore please recommend to us the three orchestration treatises that you think have the most to offer from this standpoint on the following link:


Thank you very much for your important contribution to our effort!

Stephen McAdams
Meghan Goodchild
Jamie Webber

Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory
Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT)
Schulich School of Music
McGill University