Instrumentation (music)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In music, instrumentation refers to the particular combination of musical instruments employed in a composition, and to the properties of those instruments individually. Instrumentation is sometimes used as a synonym for orchestration, which more properly refers to an orchestrator's, composer's or arranger's craft of employing instruments in varying combinations.

Instrumental properties

Writing for any instrument requires a composer or arranger to know the instrument's properties, such as:

  • the instrument's particular timbre, or range of timbres;
  • the range of pitches available on the instrument, as well as its dynamic range;
  • the constraints of playing technique, such as length of breath, possible fingerings, or the average player's stamina;
  • the relative difficulty of particular music on that instrument (for example, repeated notes are much easier to play on the violin than on the piano; while trills are relatively easy on the flute, but extremely difficult on the trombone);
  • the availability of special effects or extended techniques, such as col legno playing, fluttertongue, or glissando;
  • the notation conventions for the instrument.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Instrumentation (music)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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