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I'm working on a musical composition and I would like to know how to title it.

It consists of 5 separate, but related, movements that vary in tempo and mood.

The instruments are:

  • Solo Violin
  • Violin Section 1
  • Violin Section 2
  • Viola Section
  • Cello Section
  • Double Bass

It is very much like a "concerto", but it doesn't follow the traditional 3-movement structure, and instead of a full orchestra, it is just strings. It also resembles a "suite," but is not a series of dances.

Any suggestions on how to title this suite of music?

(An example would be "String Concerto")

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    Titling music according to structure / function is a bit dated. Typically pieces nowadays are titled by the emotions they evoke, subject matter they express, or even made-up words. In the end it's your piece so call it what you want. If you want to call it "Concerto for Lawnmower" without any lawnmowers being in piece then that's fine, but it will create a certain effect on the type of composer you are. So, question to think about: What kind of composer are you? – jjmusicnotes Jan 4 at 21:25
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    If you really want to sell it you could call it: REQUIEM FOR A BURNT PLANET. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 5 at 10:23
  • Thanks to all who commented and provided answers. I think there has been a lot of great discussion here. I can't choose a single correct answer, so I have upvoted them all. Just some further commentary: yes, I am aware I have the freedom to call it whatever I want. I think possibly the best relevant example of a composer choosing an arbitrary title for a string-oriented composition is "The Four Seasons." For context, I asked because I was searching for a simple title that is above all authentic. All things considered, I have decided to call it "Suite for String Orchestra." – Sharp Jan 5 at 15:56
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It's your composition, and I would think you could call it anything you darn well pleased. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what counts as a "symphony", a "serenade", a "divertimento", a "suite", etc. All of these names have historical resonances about how the piece is meant to be performed, how "serious" it is, and so forth; but there are no bright lines between them.

That said, a piece with a prominent solo part is almost always called a "concerto", though there are exceptions (I'm looking at you, Harold in Italy & Der Schwanendreher.) So if your solo part is significant, it's probably the best word for the piece, regardless of the number of movements. The title "Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra" (or "... and Strings") describes your piece pretty well, and it has historical precedent.

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You can call your piece whatever you want, there are no rules. Nobody (except maybe a composition professor) is going to complain if your "Suite" is not a series of dances. Nobody is going to complain if your "Concerto" doesn't have three movements, although a concerto would normally be expected to have very a prominent solo part (you don't say how prominent the solo violin is). Although there are no rules it does help if your title gives the audience some idea of what to expect.

But here are some other suggestions:

  • "Concertino"
  • "Fantasy" or "Fantasy for Violin" or "Fantasy for Violin and Strings"
  • something that describes the mood of the composition e.g. "Contemplations"
  • something completely made up e.g. "Oophaa"
  • a dedication "Für Elise"
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My suggestion is don't choose a frivolous name, just in case your piece goes on to gain a good reputation. Remember the title you choose gives the listeners a window into your world. If you call the piece "Junk" then it'll be a hard sell afterwards. Choose something vague, like "Vignettes for String Ensemble" or maybe something scientific like "Eclipses" or "Perihelion", or something evocative like "Sahara" and the audience will already have expectations of the piece, just from the title. Or just be truthfully descriptive, i.e. don't call it a symphony or a concerto if it isn't. Otherwise you'll have to explain yourself at some future date.

The title isn't just for the audience—performers too will be influenced by it. Also bear in mind that if you give the movements or sections of your piece related titles, players and audience are more likely to see the music itself as related. Psychology.

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