For instance I have 3 groups of violins and 3 instruments in each group. I want a clean C major chord from those 3 groups. What's my best choice? To have 1 group play a C, another one an E and the last group to play a G? Or maybe have each group play the chord: 1 instrument C, 2 - E, 3 - G in every group.

What is the most common way it's done?

  • Anything which involves one C one E and one G minimum will work. Octaves will make a difference. There's no absolute answer.
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 8:44
  • So basically, you have 9 violins playing a chord, so it should be pretty irrelevant which 3 play the C and so on. It would be different if you had 3 violins, 3 violas and 3 cellos, of course.
    – Old John
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 8:52
  • How different would it be? Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 8:55
  • 1
    The notation will be simpler if you go with the first option, so I'd favour that.
    – endorph
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 8:56
  • If you had 3 each of violins, violas and cellos, it is much more standard practice to have them playing in unison within each group of 3, rather than having them divided, Conductors will certainly prefer 3 in unison.
    – Old John
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 9:05

1 Answer 1


If you have three groups and need three notes, I suggest the simple solution! Your alternatives are div.a 3 within each group or even double stops. The former won't sound much different, but will complicate the notation. The latter is a rather different effect. You gain intensity of sound but lose agility.

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