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Outside of unisono passages where everybody plays the same (apart from the octave choice and possibly some fifth thrown in for tecture), violins and violas are almost never playing the same: it would be wasting the distinctive texture difference between those two instruments. For fast passages, violas do not really provide the same kind of response and/or ...


A standard string section of an orchestra will have: 1st Violins 2nd Violins Violas Cellos Basses One very typical way to think of this is by way of comparison to a four-part SATB choir (sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses). In this scheme, the first violins will have the melody line, like the soprano part of a choir. The cellos will have the bass line ...

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