Instrumentation Tips Instrument Items   William Wieland
1. Ask an instrumentalist to perform your music and offer you advice.
2. Stay on the staff, i.e. avoid ledger lines. Most musicians are the most agile and produce the best tone on the staff. Flute and tuba are exceptions.
3. All woodwinds are written in the treble clef except the bassoons.
4. Repetition makes music easier to perform.
  • If you write challenging rhythms, repeat the pitches.
  • If you write challenging pitches, repeat the rhythms.
Instrumentation BasicsInstrumental Ranges - Transposed Pitch 
• arco
• pizzicato
• mute, con sordino
  or senza sordino
• double stops
• harmonics
Violin Notes
Alto ClefSpacerNotesBarline
(viola notes P8 down)
Bass ClefSpacerNotesBarline
• violin notes upside down
• sounds P8 down
Bass ClefSpacerNotesBarline
• Can play very high (3+ ledger lines)
• Requires much air (rests/dovetailing)
• Very agile (rapid passages/large leaps)
• Essentially 2 registers (low is soft)
Piccolo — Sounds a P8 up
• Can play high (2 ledger lines)
• Requires little air (needs rests to breathe)
• Loud low
• Excellent staccato
English Horn (in F)
Clarinet (in B flat and A)
• Can play high and low (3 ledger lines)
• 3 registers
  · clarino or clarion
  · throat tones
  · chalumeau
• Amazing dynamic range (ppp to fff)
Bass Clarinet (in B flat)
(Sounds a M2 + P8 down like the tenor sax)
• Can play high and low (2 ledger lines)
• Bass clef (only woodwind)
• Loud low
(Sounds a P8 down like the string bass)
• Can play quite high (3 ledger lines)
• Loud low
• Amazing dynamic range
Soprano in B flat
Alto in E flat
Tenor in B flat (sounds M2 + P8 down)
Baritone in E flat (sounds M6 + P8 down)
Horn (in F)
• Treble clef
• Less agile than a trumpet
• Soft low
Trumpet (in B flat or C)
• Treble clef
• Most agile brass instrument
• Mutes
  · Straight
  · Cup
  · Harmon (with or without the stem)
• Bass clef
• Can play high (2+ ledger lines)
• Pedal tones
• Not agile low
Like a trombone, but
even low notes are agile.
• Bass clef
• Can play very, very low (4+ ledger lines)
• Requires much air
• Agile!