In measure 55 where the solo starts for violin 2, there is this note on top of this series of other notes. There isn't any indication of division or anything, do I choose what notes to play?

  • TBH, I'm not sure we have it quite correctly yet. I know there are movements in Solomon where Oboe 1 doubles Violins 1 and is written on the same stave, ditto Oboe 2 and Violins 2 (notably the Ouverture to Act 1). In places, Handel marks senza oboe to cancel the doubling, and then brings the oboe back in later as a solo in the violins' stave. In the Sinfonia to Act 3 (The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba) in the editions I've seen, however, the oboes get their own staves, and the first and second violins share a stave. Can you check the score layout for this movement, please?
    – user16935
    Jan 12 '15 at 9:24

I'll add a bit more explanation to the notation. Usually, in each bar of a sheet, you have a fixed number of voices, which makes it easy to follow the music. In bar 54, there is 1 voice, in bar 55, there are two: One contains f8 g8 a8 b8 a4 b4 (the start of the solo), the other one contains d'2 r4 r2 (the end of the previous motif and just rests afterwards, to keep the voice fill in the whole bar). The fact that the d'2 and the rests belong into the same voice is indicated by the stem down of the note (which means it's the 2nd voice) and the placement of the rests below the 1st voice (which again means it's the 2nd voice).

I would have written the sheet in a bit different way, to make it more clear, and exchange the voices:

enter image description here

This way the notes more clearly follow each other. However, as I said, these two notations are equivalent.

  • I'm not sure that this is correct. The placement of the rests in the remainder of the bar suggest that the high D is intended for violin two, whilst violin one should continue playing quavers (whereas in your alternative you've moved the rests upwards). That seems utterly absurd to me and your interpretation makes a lot more sense, but I would not consider the two notations even close to "equivalent". In my view, the original source is typeset incorrectly. Jan 11 '15 at 19:06
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit As long as it's to be played by one violin (which is what the question suggests) then they are equivalent. I didn't actually think of the possibility that it's notation for two instruments in one score; then of course the two variants are substantially different!
    – yo'
    Jan 11 '15 at 19:26
  • Right. Well the terms "solo" and "tutti" imply that to me, as it's hard to play a melody twice exactly the same at the same time with the same instrument! Jan 11 '15 at 19:27
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit solo and tutti could refer to the whole piece: tutti would be played in an orchestra, solo would be played alone (the other instruments being completely silent).
    – yo'
    Jan 11 '15 at 19:29
  • Well, that's true. Jan 11 '15 at 19:34

Well, if the solo for violin 2 starts there, there is some other solo or a tutti before it, and the D is obviously the last note of that other solo or tutti. If it is a tutti that the solo violin is supposed to share, then the solo violin will fade out of the preceding phrase decently so that the D does not sound out of character or sequence.

While it is theoretically possible to continue playing that D as a double stop, it would take a rather brillant player to manage that without messing the voice leading up. And it does not help that the solo is non-legato: a double-stopped long note against two non-legato short notes requires some rather tricky bowing technique (basically touching the D string twice in succession while maintaining constant contact with the A string).

So the feasible solution is to fade out of the previous phrase (again presuming that it is a tutti the solo violin is supposed to share) and then start fully on the solo.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.