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Instrumentation (music)

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.

See also


  • Randel, Don (1986). The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, pp. 397, 575-577. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-61525-5 (hc)

Further reading

  • Treatise on Instrumentation by Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss
  • Instrumentation by J. Addler

cs:Instrumentace es:Instrumentaci n musical it:Strumentazione (musica) nl:Instrumentatie ja: pl:Instrumentacja simple:Instrumentation (music)

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