Testimonials from users of The Orchestra: A User's Manual


From: Claude Luttmann

Dear Andrew,
I have your site in my favorites.
I am currently studying Orchestration and I will certainly use the site often if not daily.
This is tremendous ressource for us musicians seeking for info on instruments. So much more convenient than reading a huge book on instrumentation.
What’s of most importance to me is the instrumental techniques, their potential & limits, the sound produced. Being only guitarist when orchestrating I need such info in order not to overestimate (or underestimated) the possibilities of the instruments. This is in my opinion what your provides perfectly well. Many thanks for this.
Would be more than a shame if such a site would fall off ! Please make sure this will never happen. Thanks.
Kind regards,
Student in composition, orchestration

From: carlos enrique trujillo mendez

Hey Andrew!
The instrumentation site is awesome!
From Germany, carlos.

From: Matt Wiltrout

Dr. Hugill,
I came across your website today via a google search while trying to determine the range of various instruments. I was so grateful to not only find a crystal clear definition of the range of each instrument but the also the audio files demonstrating their sound at a given pitch. What a brilliant idea! I don't often write for instruments other than my own, the piano, so the content of your site was perfect for an amateur writer like myself. I was so surprised and impressed by my discovery that I had to take a moment to write you to express my thanks.
Have a wonderful evening and thank you for the site.

From: Claude Frascadore

Je consulte régulièrement « THE ORCHESTRA : A USER'S MANUAL » depuis que, à mon grand bonheur, je l’ai découvert il y a quelques mois.
Ouvrage extrêmement précieux, j’y trouve toujours toute l’information qu’il me faut sur l’orchestre, l’instrumentation et plus. Il est la ressource musicologique sur l’orchestre et l’instrumentation la plus complète que je connaisse à ce jour sur le web.
Je ne voudrais pas voir disparaître un tel ouvrage. Je le consulte d’ailleurs actuellement pour mon travail de composition du Code Couronne de COZIC.
Merci et à bientôt,
Claude Frascadore
Compositeur, artiste multidisciplinaire, informaticien et pataphysicien.

From: Michel Pascal

Thank you very much for this excellent multimedia free work about orchestration on the internet. After searching the web and the books about this subject, I have recommended it to my students in composition at the Conservatoire National à Rayonnement Régional in Nice, France these last years. It is at the top of the list and they find there most answers to their questions. I also use it for myself. It is very clear, fast and easy to use. Very well done for orchestral writing purposes. The possibility to audition the musicians is very important and do not interfere with your search when you do not need it. A deeper part about special techniques usable for soloists would be very welcome.

Michel Pascal
Professeur de composition électroacoustique
Conservatoire National à Rayonnement Régional

From: Aneek Tharpar Greetings Mr. Hugil!
I am a DMU alumni and I am loving your online resource. It's Fantastic!
[ Aneek Thapar ]
w: www.soundcloud.com/aneek
in: www.linkedin.com/in/aneekthapar
ai: www.audioinsight.co.uk - Audio Post-Production for Film & TV
nt: www.ninjatune.net - UK Independent Record Label
nj: www.ninjajamm.com - The remix app for iOS from Ninja Tune and Seeper

From: Ricardo Dicorato

Dear Andrew,

I'm studying orchestration at Berklee Online, and your Orchestra User's Manual is the website I was looking for!

Thank you and congratulations for your outstanding work,

Roberto Dicorato, Milano, Italy

From: Michael Lawson

Dear Andrew (if I may)

I came across your website today, and want to thank you for it. It’s full of expertise, simply communicated and the video and audio clips are really helpful. I hope it’s already widely used. I am planning to recommend it to a colleague who teaches orchestration at the Guildhall, in case his students aren’t aware of it.

Putting together something like this must have taken an enormous amount of effort (and creativity). It strikes me this is so much more accessible an approach to the rudiments of orchestration than the likes of Forsyth, Piston et al that I and generations have been used to in the past!

I’ll just add that I was a composer and concert pianist in the first part of my career. I had been a composition student of the great French teacher Nadia Boulanger in Paris for four years in the mid seventies. For various (good) reasons composition had to go to the back burner from the eighties onwards. Human rights documentary making, and record producing have occupied much of my creative time since then. But recently I have returned to composition in a significant way. I found your website as I had some ideas about bowing that I need to check, and your remarks were spot on. So thank you again.

If you are interested in India, and the plight of the Dalits, my latest film India’s Forgotten Children is on our website. I founded Pipe Village Trust as a human right film making charity a few years ago. I have made six broadcast documentaries: fI’ve on India, and one on Aids/HiV orphans in Mozambique. Now I am active again as a composer, I write the film scores too!

Thank you again for all the benefits of your knowledge and generosity in making your site available.

All good wishes

Michael Lawson

From Michael Lawson
Creative Director

From: Robert Winslow

Dear Dr. Hugill,
I have really enjoyed your site and recommend it to my students. What a research job you have done! Thank you so much for your work.

Robert Winslow
Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL

From: Paul Spicer

Dear Andrew

What a simply wonderful orchestration project you have created with the Philharmonia. A goldmine of information. Congratulations.

From: Louis Salter

Dear Andrew,

To the question "What's the best website you've discovered in the past week?" that was asked on a Facebook Group, I replied "The Orchestra: A User's Manual". I find the manual very useful to check ranges - and actually listen to the notes being played - , to know more about specific techniques and to hear what orchestra players have to say about their instruments. A very valuable resource that has contributed to improve my recent compositions.

Best wishes,
Louis Sauter

From: Jill Elliott

Dear Andrew,

I have just come across your manual, and have pleasure in contributing the following testimonial, which you may quote if you wish:-

What a wonderful resource this is! All the information that we can find in an orchestration text book is here, but brought to life by the actual players, who demonstrate and explain what is good writing for their instrument, what is difficult to achieve and how we can exploit the range of sounds and effects they can produce. There are also interesting and informative excerpts from orchestral pieces illustrating different usages.

I have written orchestral pieces before and never had a complaint about anything being unplayable, but have recently discovered this manual and have found it invaluable in confirming my own ideas about what to do with the instruments and also encouraging me to try something new. It is useful to have the expert advice of professional players rather than presenting passages to one’s friends who may or may not give an objective assessment!

Best wishes,

Jill Elliott

From Juan Manuel Abras
12 Jan 2014

'The Orchestra: A User's Manual' has proven to be a useful, didactic multimedia tool for my students both at the National University of Lanús and at the 'Astor Piazzolla' Conservatory of Music of the City of Buenos Aires. Congratulations and keep the good work!

Juan Manuel ABRAS - Composer, conductor and researcher (www.juanmanuelabras.com)

From Marc Battier
27 Dec 2013

Dear Andrew,

Here in California, I'm finishing a piece for symphony orchestra "Rain Water for symphony orchestra" which will be premiered in two months near Los Angeles, and I'm away from my library and my orchestration books. I find your Web site invaluable and I am frequently using it. Congratulations and thank you. This is a real service for the community.


Marc Battier

From Marcos Borelli
25 Nov

Dear Andrew,

Congratulations for your outstanding work, it was a invaluable help for my orchestration work.

I used mainly your web site in my composition "O pacto", played by the Brazilian young orchestra "Jazz Sinfonica Jovem", in 2011.

Feel free to use this e-mail.

Thank you very much,


From Lanier Sammons
25 September 2013

Dear Dr. Hugill,
I hope the testimonial that follows proves useful to you. Thank you so much for your work on the User's Manual; it's a vital, vital resource.

Lanier Sammons

The Orchestra: A User's Manual has been vital to my compositional process since I discovered it (six or seven years ago, I believe). Whenever I write for acoustic instruments, visiting the site is among my first compositional steps. I have to come prefer it to standard orchestration texts for its incorporation of audio and visual materials, its thoroughness, its inclusion of information about extended techniques, and its direct connection to performers.

I recommend the site regularly to colleagues and students. It is a truly valuable resource that demonstrates the best of what the web can contribute to musical education.

From: Esteban Vargas
29 July 2013

Greetings Andrew,

my name is Esteban Vargas, and I'm a composition student from the Universidad Católica de Chile. I am writing this mail basically because I want to thank you and congratulate you for the work you have done by redacting this guide and sharing it with people around the world for free. It's one of the most complete sources of organology I have found so far, and I use it constantly when I'm composing and I have doubts about instrumentation.
The only weakness I have found so far is regarding to percussion notation. Many of the strokes and mallets are specified in videos, but not the notation necessary to indicate them in a score.

Keep up the good work. Best wishes!
Esteban Vargas

From: Emilio Le Roux
24 July 2013

I wanted to say I have been using you Orchestra Manual for about two
years, first as an independent composer, and now in my studies because I
decided go into the University here in Brazil, for Composition. I think
this is a good time to study music, with so many references and tools.
The Orchestra Manual is one of the best examples. I use it and recommend
it to my colleagues all the time.

Thank you!

Emilio Le Roux

From: Alexadre Ficagna
18 May 2013

Dear Mr. Hugill,

the manual brought online by you and the Philarmonica Orchestra is absolutely great.
As a composer, I consult it very often, searching for various informations: some instrument range, kinds of articulations, extended techniques, etc. And the best is that I can hear almost everything!
Looking at an instrument range hear it playing a specific note, in various dynamics, that's a really amazing resource.
It's also interesting as supporting midia resources for instrumentation and orchestration classes. The examples of combinations are very helpful for the students. And for me.

Thanks a lot
Alexandre Ficagna - brazilian composer and music professor
Avenida Juscelino Kubitschek 3117 apto 603
Bairro: Vila Ipiranga
CEP: 86010-540

From: Amy Moar
22 April 2013

Hello Andrew,

I wanted to thank you for the work you have put in to The Orchestra: A user's Manual.
I am in my HND year Classical Music Performance at The Edinburgh College and have enjoyed immensely
exploring the site as research for my Orchestration Unit and Composition. I especially like the video and audio content.
I will be continuing with composition next year for the Degree and I will definitely be returning to your pages for reference.

Very best wishes,
Amy Moar

From: David Roach <dave@davidroach.onmicrosoft.com>
6 Feb, 2013

I was invited by the Philharmonia Orchestra to take part in Andrew Hugill's online Orchestral Manual by demonstrating the Saxophones. I was immediately struck by what a useful resource the Manual would be, especially since professional players tend to be more realistic about the scope and limitations of their instruments and definitely more practical and enthusiastic than theoretical manuals. Andrew took great care to encourage a direct and informal approach and I think the results shine through in each instrument's segment. Once the site was up and running I heard many comments from teachers and students praising the Manual, "It is a great resource and useful in a completely ground-breaking way; after all it's like having a master-class on your computer with players of that calibre on display" was one particular plaudit which, unsurprisingly, sticks in my mind.

From: Nikola Kołodziejczyk [tritonsubstitution@gmail.com]
Sunday, January 20, 2013 6:10 PM

Hi, my name is Nikola Kołodziejczyk, I am a composer and pianist from Poland,
and I would like to thank You for having THE ORCHESTRA: A USER'S MANUAL on-line.
It makes writing orchestral music - which is mainly a solitary experience - feel like there are lots of musician friends that come to visit me during my work and give insightful advice that refreshes my memory and gives me confidence that i can write music that is technically advanced but also fun to play.
It is very well structured and has the most crucial technical aspects of a performance covered on video - which is really easy and rewarding to peruse.

I found it, and used it from time to time while orchestrating and composing for Jazz Orchester Regensburg, Anna Hawkins, Amine et Hamza M'Raihi and just now for Mr. Richard Bona and Metropole Orkest.

Once again thank You, and good luck with The Imaginary Voyage!

Nikola Kołodziejczyk MA

Albert Guinovart has sent you a message.
Date: 1/19/2013
Subject: Hello!
I like very much you website, it's really useful for the pupils.
Best wishes!

Albert Guinovart

From: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz [a_lazarkiewicz@mac.com]
Monday, January 14, 2013

My name is Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz. I'm a composer of music for film and theatre, based in Berlin.
I've been using this online resource as an important reference tool as well as a source of musical inspiration for some years now. I've been looking for such a web site for a long time. This project has gathered all the necessary knowledge in one place, enabling composers and arrangers to look up specific musical effects and immediately see the appropriate way of notating them.
This has proved to be an enormous help for me, when I had to expand my orchestral workshop when working on projects such as "In Darkness" by Agnieszka Holland, which got an Oscar nomination last year. When looking for efficient and possibly simple ways of notating different effects in the string orchestra, I could rely on "The User's Manual" as a reliable source.
It would be interesting to use this database as a starting point for an open-source project, a kind of a musical Wikipedia. The language of musical notation in modern orchestral music, as well as the spectrum of effects in use in contemporary compositions, is constantly evolving and it would be very interesting as well as inspiring to have a place, where all these new techniques are being gathered, commented upon and offered for other artist to use.

Thank you


From Lennart Westman
Saturday, January 12, 2013 12:52 AM

Dear Andrew Hugill,

Many thanks for such a educative and brilliant web site you have created: http://andrewhugill.com/manuals/

best regards

Lennart Westman
Composer in Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0)70 - 459 23 93

From Alex Hall [thealexhall@gmail.com]
Sunday, January 06, 2013 11:06 AM

Hi andrew
As a young composer, I have read a lot of orchestration guides and manuals and many other books and articles. Nothing I have used has offered quite the same amount of depth, information and coherence than The Orchestra : A Users Manual developed by Andrew Hugill and the Philharmonia Orchestra. On a practical orchestration level, it is second to none, offering detailed notation, soundbites and playability of techniques for all the instruments, not to mention the detail of the ranges for each instrument. A particular feature I think is incomparably useful is the player's tips and tricks for each instrument, which features members of the philharmonia orchestra giving advice in good part writing. For any aspiring composer, this is vital information, and for every section of the modern orchestra and further, that information is all there in one place. From the historical context resources to the seating plan layouts, it really is a phenomenal, 21st century tool for any composer. I used it as a reference when writing pieces I submitted to music colleges for BMus composition, and it really helped in getting me not just one place, but three.
All in all, an essential resource for me and an extremely useful resource for any aspiring musician and composer.

Alex j Hall

From: "j.alex.whyte" <j.alex.whyte@wanadoo.fr>
Date: 10 December 2012 19:32:07 GMT
To: Andrew Hugill <andrewhugill@gmail.com>

If you're not allergic to compliments, the Orchestral site is a superb tool. [...] Thanks for all the pleasure your work gave me.
J.Alex Whyte

On 27/03/2012 00:34, "Liam Clayton" <liampclayton@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Andrew,
I've realised tonight that the website that I've been using for a few weeks to research orchestration and instrument ranges is actually yours and it's been a great help with my project. I'm new to orchestration so it's been really useful!

From: Babak Yalinejad <babak.yd@gmail.com>
Date: 12 September 2012 04:24:15 GMT+01:00
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>
Thank you for creating this site; it's very useful,

From: JAMIE MAN <jplman@hotmail.co.uk>
Subject: Thank you
Date: 26 October 2012 15:56:38 GMT+01:00
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>
Dear Andrew,
I just wanted to thank you for your website which has rescued me on many occassions. The Orchestra: A User's Manual is such a great resource when I am on the road and instrumentalists are not at hand!
Thank you,

From: "lauro.ferrarini@fastwebnet.it" <lauro.ferrarini@fastwebnet.it>
Subject: Thank you
Date: 14 February 2012 14:13:29 GMT
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>
Reply-To: "lauro.ferrarini@fastwebnet.it" <lauro.ferrarini@fastwebnet.it>

Mr. Hugill,

I'm an italian musician working and writing very often for orchestra.
I confess you that is very useful I use your on-line manual.
May be you can laugh at me but...some times I'm on a big hurry... and as musician (I think you can understand when a composer write under pressure) it's a little great help. So thank you for this fantastic Idea and thank you for coming (back) online.

FROM FAR ITALY with gratefulness
Lauro Ferrarini

From: Samantha Peebles <sp@fotosearch.com>
Subject: The Orchestra Additional Resource
Date: 26 July 2012 14:55:27 GMT+01:00
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>

Dear Andrew Hugill,

I just came across your website and found it to be a very useful
resource! I enjoyed all the different tips and tricks that you show
through a video! Thank you.


Samantha Peebles

From: charles farmer <cwf327@yahoo.com>
Date: 8 February 2012 03:49:50 GMT
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>

Mr. Hugill,

Thank you for providing The Orchestra Users Manuel online. I find it very useful,

Charles Farmer
New Orleans La,

From: Mark Goldstein <markg990@yahoo.com>
Subject: trumpet
Date: 14 October 2012 17:36:01 GMT+01:00
To: Andrew Hugill <ahu@dmu.ac.uk>

Hey Andrew,

Thanks for the great Orchestra User manual website.

It's actually possible to play multiphonics on the trumpet without singing. You can split partials (playing right between the "C" and "G" registers, "G" and next "C", etc...) and sound both. With some practice you can actually get some pretty clean 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths.

Thanks and hope this helps!

- Mark Goldstein

From: Sandro Mussida <sandro.mussida@gmail.com>
Date: 20 December 2012 15:00:05 GMT
To: Andrew Hugill <andrewhugill@gmail.com>

I have to thank you for keeping such a "tool" alive and for giving to all the musicians and composers community a very useful tools for everyday work and study.

Best wishes
Sandro Mussida
Composer, Producer, Cellist

Posted on Mar 4, 2009 in Composer Tools:

The Orchestra: a User’s Manual is a great site for all kinds of information on composing for orchestral instruments. Included on the site are:
• Instrument range and transposition charts
• Harmonic series charts
• Score layouts, seating charts
• Historical information about orchestras
• Pictures of instruments and sound files, including samples of less common instrument combinations
• My favorite part of the site is the very detailed information on all instruments including samples of sounds in different registers, articulations and their effects, videos of player tips and trips.
This project was conceived and written by Andrew Hugill in 2002-2003 during a sabbatical period from De Montfort University. It was commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra with funds made available by the Arts Council of England. (Compose Create)

The Orchestra – A User’s Manual: Violin
Professor Andrew Hugill, noted composer, writer and distance learning innovator, authored this online manual for orchestration featuring multimedia clips of Philharmonia Orchestra musicians illustrating aspects of instrumental technique, including bowing, plucking and left hand technique examples (use nav bar on the left to access these features). Additional information about the orchestra, orchestration, composition and instruments is also provided. Note: Hugill was one of the main innovators that created and developed The Sound Exchange. (Wayland High School Orchestras.

From Peter Schwartz (New York) 7.4.06:

Hello, I found a link to your "The Orchestra: A Users Manual" through the wikipedia website. I just wanted to commend your University's effort in making such a wonderful resource so accessible. As a composer and arranger I'm familiar with the sounds of most instruments, but rarely have I had opportunity to sit one-on-one with players and discuss playing techniques, likes and dislikes regarding notation, strengths and weaknesses of their instruments, and so on. I've spent several hours today studying the information and viewing clips on the flute/piccolo and bassoon/contra alone, and learned SO much in the process. I plan to spend a lot of time at this website. I'd be grateful if there was a way of extending my appreciation to the people involved in developing the Users Manual. I can only imagine the gargantuan effort it took to produce. And I have no doubt that what I've learned already, not to mention what I anticipate learning further, will help make me a more expressive and creative composer/arranger

06-06-2005 12:50
ORCHESTRATION: An Online User's Manual

Hi all,
I came across this brilliant site a few weeks ago and found it so good I thought I'd share. This has to be an invaluable source for any orchestrator. It's like getting the whole Philharmonia Orchestra to come to your own home and demonstrate each instrument in detail. There are video clips, audio and tons of info: Orchestration: A User's Manual

Re: ORCHESTRATION: An Online User's Manual

Superb!!!! Everyone should have this saved so they can call it up in an instant.
I would draw anyone and everyone's attention to this page - with particular emphasis on the section : -
Orchestral Parts
Really very good for anyone with a computer and sampled orchestral library and great fun too, I would imagine.
Highly recommended.

09-30-2005 16:28

One other great resource on bells up is a website called The Orchestra: A User’s Manual. Created by Andrew Hugill, this online orchestration guide features tons of video and audio examples with members of the Philharmonia Orchestra. The section on the horn is wonderful, including this page on effects. Simply click on the small icon next to each effect to watch a demonstration video with Cormac Ó hAodáin (Horn, Philharmonia Orchestra). In his video Cormac discusses a couple of different possibilities for bells up, noting that his preference is to “go for it” with the bell quite high in the air. Whatever you end up doing, make sure that you practice it well in advance of rehearsals, and coordinate with the other members of your section so that the effect looks (and sounds) uniform. (Horn World)