Treatise on Instrumentation

Treatise on Instrumentation

Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation (sometimes Treatise on Orchestration) is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz. It was first published in 1844 after being serialised in many parts prior to this date, and had a chapter added by Berlioz on conducting in 1855. An attempt at revising the text was later made by Richard Strauss in 1904 to include some modern instruments. The book discusses the various technical aspects of instruments, such as chromatic range, tone quality, and limitations. An explanation of the role of particular instruments within the orchestra is also provided. The book also provides orchestral excerpts from classical scores to give examples of techniques discussed. These examples are sometimes of works by Berlioz himself, while Mozart, Wagner, Beethoven, and Gluck are also frequently cited.[1]

Many composers studied the work closely, such as Mahler, R. Strauss, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Instruments discussed[1]


Plucked strings:


Wind instruments:

Brass instruments:

Voices: (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass etc.)


New instruments:[2]

Other topics discussed

The orchestra - an overview of how the orchestra functions as a whole, and its development throughout history.

On conducting - a brief discussion of conducting practices in Europe during Berlioz's day. Berlioz was also known as a great conductor in his time, in addition to a composer.


  1. ^ a b Treatise on Instrumentation by Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss, translated by Theodore Front, published by Edwin F. Kalmus, NY, NY 1948
  2. ^ Note: this refers to new instruments as of ca. 1850.

External links

  • Treatise on Instrumentation: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  • Treatise on Instrumentation & OrchestrationExcerpts from the
  • complete, with additions by Richard Strauss, in English, on IMSLP.orgTreatise on Instrumentation & Orchestration
  • , English translation of the 1858 Novello edition at Google BooksTreatise on Instrumentation & Orchestration