The term orchestration tends to invoke heterogeneous combinations of instruments, especially those of the symphony orchestra. But homogeneous ensembles, comprised of combinations of the same kind of instrument, also make up an important part of the musical and music-pedagogical landscapes. As we argue in this paper, orchestrating for homogeneous ensembles is grounded in the same perceptual principles as orchestrating for heterogeneous ensembles, and may be analyzed using the same taxonomy of orchestral effects. In general, effects based on perceptual similarity between sounds are facilitated in homogeneous orchestration, while effects based on perceptual difference require greater attention to detail on the part of the orchestrator to be achieved effectively. Orchestrating for homogeneous ensembles also offers an unparalleled opportunity to delve into specific features of particular instruments, multiplied to symphonic proportions and unlocking new potentials. Focusing on the first authorʼs composition fantaisie harmonique, which was recorded in studio multitrack by the second author, we demonstrate our approach to composing for guitar orchestra, touching on more general considerations of homogeneous orchestration along the way. Among the specific features of guitars and guitar ensembles that we examine are complex scordatura, natural harmonics and open strings, attack qualities and degrees of asynchrony, and timbral and dynamic variation.
Noble, J., & Cowan, S. (2023). Composing for guitar orchestra: Challenges and advantages of homogeneous orchestration. In R. Torres, A. Brandon, & J. Noble (Eds.), Proceedings of The 21st Century Guitar Conference 2019 & 2021 (pp. 271-290). https://digitalcommons.du.edu/twentyfirst-century-guitar/vol1/iss1/18