Is this tremolo with the specified tempo too fast for a viola, cello and contrabass? enter image description here

  • 1
    It's interesting that you've specified viola, cello, and contrabass, (but not violin), and then shown notes in treble clef. Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 14:16
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    @ElementsinSpace - Yeah, this was a mistake on my part. I should have used another clef.
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 14:31
  • PS it's 100% ok to edit away typos/mistakes like that, @brilliant
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


Short answer: It's kinda sorta barely okay.

First of all, the triple slashes are normally interpreted as an unmeasured tremolo; i.e., each player will simply bow as fast as seems comfortable, and the total result will be an uncoordinated string-section-tremolo sound, a sort of flutter without specific note duration. If you want true 32nd notes, the best way is probably to write out the first one or two beats as individual notes, then use tremolo notation, perhaps with the direction "simile."

At a quarter note of 120, a 32nd note passage strains the ability to change the bow that fast. A professional orchestra will be able to pull it off, but it will still sound a bit scrambly. There are "real pieces" that demand bowing this fast, like the end of Brahms "Academic Overture," but the effect is more "these are some fast notes" than "these are exact and well-coordinated 32nd notes."

Finally, the tempo marking is normally given in the note duration that is the beat. If this piece is in 4/8, then maybe it should be "8th note equals 240." Mind you, if the eighth note is actually 120, then the bowing would be quite easy.

  • 3
    Thanks also for the tempo-marking info.
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 14:32

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