In particular, looking at the cello part from the 1924 Casa Ricorda edition of Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances (Universal Music Co). Third movement, there's a divisi with both parts playing a G one octave apart. The notes are written normally (not marked as they would if to be played open-string harmonics), but "armonici" is written. My feeling is this is just encouraging us to play sweetly and in perfect harmony. Any ideas?

Edit: FWIW our conductor (Valerie Taylor of Berklee) agrees they should be played as harmonics.

  • Google translate says armonici means harmonic in Italian.
    – amalgamate
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 23:37
  • Hey @Carl, although you describe the passage of music really well, it would be great to see it, to get an idea of those notes in context... Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 23:53
  • imslp.org/wiki/…. Carl is talking about the first bar of pg. 41. The written notes are G above and below middle C, held for 3-and-a-quarter bars; "armonici" is in parentheses. Under the circumstances, I suspect Respighi means "armonici naturali", i.e., open harmonics.
    – user16935
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 0:54

1 Answer 1


OK, the mark "armonici" is a plural noun, i.e., "harmonics". The cello part shows the cellos divisi, with the indication dead in the middle between the staves (see the cello part - fair warning though, it downloads immediately). Presumably he's asking for natural harmonics written at pitch. The harmonics are playable on either the C or G strings - nothing too fancy, especially coming off a low G in the previous phrase (most likely played on the C string - the lower cellos wouldn't need to change position at all; the upper cellos would only need a small shift to take the higher harmonic on the G string; and they would avoid an open string in a pp passage).

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