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Orchidea and Orchestration

Hello everybody,
I would be interested in the criteria Orchidea uses for orchestration (algorithmic parameters, etc.)
Are there composers who have already worked with Orchidea and live orchestras? What is your experience? Orchestration is a delicate and very sensitive matter, not all instruments melt together … even with the translation you have to cut back not everything that Orchidea orchestrates is playable.
The results all sound great, but what if I give it to an orchestra? Please reply Dietmar


I am sure that once these hard times become softer, the orchidea team will reply…

In the meantime, here are some references to your questions :



Mine is, for the time being, an out of the box experimention with elctroacoustics, not orchestration, as proposed in the second conference above at the 21’55"

Don’t you think this depends on each one’s orchestration craft in that matter ?
Orchidea is definitely presented as a computer-assisted orchestration.

Hope it helps.


I had some troubles editing this reply

Here is the second conference :


Dear all,
I’m not sure if this thread is still open, however (as I replied in the other thread to Dietmar), I suggest you go through the tutorials in the max package to understand more about the orchestration parameters.
Please let me know if you have any specific question.

Hi Dietmar,

Perhaps the most well-known work done with orchidean technologies (in this case specifically, Orchidée) is the late Jonathan Harvey’s Speakings.

On IRCAM’s media resources page — Nadir has already linked to a couple of these, — you can also find many videos if you search for “orchidée”, “orchids”, and “orchestration” of course. Here: https://medias.ircam.fr/

Another more recent resource would be the ACTOR project (of which Orchidea is a part of), which you can find here: https://www.actorproject.org/

There’s a lot to unpack… And timbre is perhaps the most elusive and cryptic of musical phenomena.

All the best,

Thank you for the interesting hints and explanations all the best Dietmar

Thank´s a lot !!! Best Dietmar

@antonioflorenca Thanks for your information. I’d like to point out, however, that Orchidea is based on several new ideas and there is a community of composers that currently use it. Orchidea is indeed part of ACTOR but the development if currently funded by the University of California, Berkeley.
@Dietmar please check in the media file in Ircam website about several talks I gave on the subject. There are few papers coming that will also connect to the history of the project and will give musical examples.


Hi Carmine,

You seem to have misunderstood the point of my reply to Dietmar. I only seeked to offer a few hints on the issue of CAO and orchestral synthesis in its historical settings, besides Nadir had already linked to presentations by you beforehand. Anyway, the fact remains that the most renowned and well-known work composed with orchidean technologies remains Jonathan Harvey’s Speakings (in this case, done with Orchidée), and that there wouldn’t simply be Orchidea without Orchidée or Orchids.

I’ve seen the UC Berkeley brand on Orchidea’s website, and I’m perfectly aware that you work there since I’ve had the pleasure of helping out one of your Berkeley PhD students on an issue concerning Orchidea. However, I admit that I fail to see the point of bringing up UC Berkeley’s brand and highlighting it in this context.

All the best,

Hi Antonio
I mentioned UC Berkeley since you said that Orchidea is part of the ACTOR project. This is indeed true, but the funding does not come from ACTOR. Orchidea is indeed rooted in the Orch* family and it has new ideas too. That’s why I mentioned that it could be interesting to also check new compositional projects that use dynamic orchestration, where Speakings only used static orchestration.
I greatly appreciate your support to the dicussion.


Funding isn’t the issue at all in my reply to Dietmar, nor was it ever in the cards here. I only mentioned ACTOR, since it seems to be among the best online entry-points into these issues for anyone (like Dietmar) who is interested on timbre, orchestration, CAO, and orchestral synthesis — given the array of resources ACTOR has to offer (not only in software, but books, as well as published papers, etc.) Funding didn’t concern me in the least, only the substance therein — and hence my remark on failing to see the point of you bringing up or highlighting UC Berkeley’s brand in this context.

All the best,

Dear all,

I thank Dietmar who brings us back to something more musical. And this discussion is very interesting… For my part, ACTOR is very interesting but personally, before going elsewhere, I’ll stay with our Orch : the package for Max…

I’m afraid that in this new “monster” Orchidea will be left…

I’ve been following the concept of artificial orchestration since Cuidado, and now we’ve come up with something that has huge potential, and that’s with Max!

There’s still work to be done.

I’m thrilling about the future Zoom,



Hi Jérôme,

Orchidea is part of the ACTOR project, so there’s no “stay or go”/“here or there” conundrum, and no new monster to be feared or avoided — like it or not, if you’re using Orchidea, the truth is that the monster is already living with you.

And to offer some precision on this issue, Orchis (Orchidée’s Max/MSP sibling) and Orchids were also made with Max/MSP… That’s not new, far from it. Besides, Orchidea’s Max/MSP package is just one of its three available avenues, and Orchidea’s command line tools is another.

All the best,

Hello everybody,
I have not been with IRCAM so long and the programs offered to support composing are incredibly diverse, for me it is important not to lose sight of the goal. Algorithms can be incredibly exciting and enriching, but they are not yet music. The classic craft of composing and instrumenting also makes it easier for me to deal with Orchidea. In this sense, all the best and thank you for letting me learn from you. Dietmar

Hi Dietmar,

I thought you were interested in the musical phenomena and the technology that adresses them, not simply the “classic craft” of composing through blind button-pressing and hitting play. Sorry for that.

Much like Orchids already had done and pretty much for the same reasons, Orchidea has created the illusion of “out of the box” orchestration, and of offering a simulacrum of musical skill and talent in some.

The issues surrounding timbre and orchestration are still not underestood or mastered, Orchidea is a part of this process, no the end-game.

It’s not the algorithms that run the show, it’s the issues in their historical settings and depth that always do.

All the best,

Dear Antonio,
you read things from my text here that I neither wrote nor meant. If I were not interested in the musical phenomena you describe and their technologies, I would not be on this platform at all. You do not even know me.
Incidentally, the “classic craft”, whatever it means, does not blindly press any buttons. i don’t understand your answer. I am fully aware that the timbre and its orchestration is a special challenge for every composer and that Orchidea is not the “final solution”. You misunderstood me here a bit, but maybe it is also due to my or your English. What is important to me is that we treat each other with respect. Best regards Dietmar


“Classic craft” was your expression originally, so you should know what it means. Despite your broken english, I understood you quite well and I have already adressed everything you said, and did so cordially. So, there’s no point in pursuing or repeating myself…

All the best,