Sunday, July 24, 2016

Handbook of Instrumentation

 Orchestration and instrumentation are two inter-related musical skills.  Orchestration is the art of combining and balancing instruments and voices in ensembles large and small.  Instrumentation concerns the capabilities of the individual music components that make up these ensembles.

Andrew Stiller's Handbook of Instrumentation is an outstanding reference book on this subject.  In this handbook he covers all the instruments employed today in the major instrumental families (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and keyboards).  He also devotes space to the voice, electronics and to early music instruments.

His introduction as well as passages throughout the book are devoted to the physics and acoustics of these musical forces.  He often explains how sound is generated by each instrumentalist.  One particularly enlightening passage is his discussion of the voice, where he addresses the various registers and timbres and the acoustic properties of vowels. 

A discussion of a given instrument will typically detail the entire instrument family.  For instance, he provides illustrations and explanation for seven members of the clarinet family (the Ab, Eb, Bb, alto, bass, contra-alto and contrabass clarinets).  For each member he provides its written range, an understanding of how loudly and softly it can be played, an explanation of its transposition.  He also gives a sense of the instruments availability - the Bb clarinet is ubiquitous, the bass clarinet is common and the Ab clarinet is rare.

The section on percussion contains a very wide array from instruments -- from those of a classical orchestra, to the trap set, Latin percussion and mallet percussion.  He also describes the effect of the various sticks and mallets used on these instruments.

Every section has gives the instrument's "performance characteristics," fingering and trill charts and related tools, techniques or specialized notation.  At the end of the discussion of every instrument there are also musical examples that highlight the instrument.

The information in this book is aimed primarily at the student or professional composer or arranger.  It also serves as a handy reference for instrumentalists (and librarians) because of the fingering and trill charts included for every instrument.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Little about Logos

The Dewey numbers 740 – 749 are classified in Dewey-speak as “Drawing and decorative arts.” The drawing section spans 740 to 743.99. Hidden within the section, 741.6 are "graphic design, illustration and commercial art." This is one section for information about logos, but as with this title, Logo Life, one can also find the subject farther down the shelf in books with a call number of 741.67 (or 658, or 745.2...)

Logo life: life histories of 100 famous logos concentrates on the histories of 100 well known logos, showing the logo at its inception, and then depicting each new look. The contents page lists companies which will be familiar to most people.

 One of the more interesting histories is that of the Apple logo. In its first incarnation, the apple takes much less space. The intricate drawing shows an apple tree, with an apple illuminated, and a man sitting underneath. A quote from Wordsworth was used: “Newton…a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought…alone.” Besides being difficult to reproduce, the logo hardly looked “forward thinking.” For the second incarnation, Steve Jobs' only instruction was that it should not be “too cute." Robert Janoff created an apple and placed rainbow colors within it. The bite was taken out of the fruit to distinguish it from a cherry. The typeface used was Motter Tektura, considered very stylish at the time. The lower case “a” fit very snugly in the bite space. Contrary to popular folklore, the bite did not represent a “byte,” nor was it a biblical reference.

 One of the most famous brand logos - Coca Cola - was created by the founder’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson. The Spencerian typeface, was the most popular script during the late 1800s. Robinson thought that the double “C’s” would work well for advertising purposes. The logo was first registered in 1887, with black script, but was updated with red type meant to attract younger customers. The logo of the 1940’s has stayed unchanged over the years, though additional copy or graphics may be added for specific purposes.

The concept of shipping, figures prominently in the choice of imagery for Starbucks, since coffee is is always shipped to the US from faraway places. The founders were looking through shipping books from the 16th century when they found a woodblock of a two-tailed mermaid. They liked the image and hoped that their product would be as seductive as the siren.  The founders borrowed the name “Starbuck,” from a character in Moby Dick. When Il Giornale merged with Starbucks, the stars in the ring, and the dark green were taken from that logo.  The mermaid's breasts which had been exposed in the first logo, were covered with hair, though you could still see the belly button. Another change came in 1992, when the mermaid was given more of a close-up where the two tails were partially out of the picture. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, the name was removed, and the brand recognition became dependent on the (now green) image.

Other books about logo design can be found here:

Designing B2B brands : lessons from Deloitte and 195,000 brand managers / Carlos Martinez Onaindia  and Brian Resnick.

How to design logos, symbols, and icons : 23 internationally renowned studios reveal how they develop trademarks for print and new media / Gregory Thomas

Logo Design Love : A Guide To Creating Iconic Brand Identities / from David Airey.

Logobook / by Ludovic Houplain ; Ed., Julius Wiedemann.

Masters of design : logos & identity : a collective of the world's most inspiring logo designers / Sean Adams.