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Questions tagged [orchestral-strings]

The bowed stringed instruments usually found in a modern orchestra: violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

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3answers
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Is divisi notation needed for brass or woodwind in an orchestra?

I'm composing for orchestra. I've read that divisions [of parts] should be notated using divisi. (or div.) above the staff. But I'm wondering whether this notation is mandatory for all instruments. ...
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1answer
44 views

Violin - How to keep fingers from touching other string when playing double stops

I am new to double stops. When I play a double stop where a finger is on a string while playing an open string (1st finger on the D string and open A string), my finger touches the open string, in ...
6
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1answer
149 views

Why are string bows so hairy?

All violin bows I have seen are designed to hold a width of at least 1cm of hair. However, in my string training, I was always taught to rotate the bow so that only the outer-most hairs contact the ...
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1answer
53 views

Arrangement question: Strings [closed]

I know that this is gonna be a pretty generic question. I finally started refining my knowledge about arrangement, and I was wondering: are there any conventions about arranging strings inside a pop ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Why are modern string bows concave instead of convex?

Every bow that I have seen used to play an orchestral stringed instrument, regardless of the style of music being played, has the same concave design. By concave I mean that there is a slight curve ...
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2answers
571 views

What instrument is an “alto” string part in a score?

In the music score below, the bottom five parts seem to be string parts. We think the first two are violins, the last is string bass, and the second-last is cello. But what is the third-last? Is it a ...
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0answers
95 views

Why such a difference in balance adding 1 instrument?

I am writing a canon for piano quintet and I notice I'm getting a lot of balance issues. When it starts with 2 measures of piano solo, of course there are no such issues. I introduce new variations ...
0
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1answer
116 views

Why are most string quartets in a key with few accidentals?

The most accidentals I have seen in a string quartet is 4 flats or sharps. Now I have been told that this is because C major, G major, D major and A major are the easiest keys on a string instrument ...
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1answer
80 views

What is this string/violin technique called?

In this song, from 2:40 to 2:41, the strings play a series of very short notes. It sounds almost like vibrato. I hear this string technique quite often in orchestral music. Is there a name for this ...
2
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1answer
50 views

Notation in Vasks “Stimmen”

Can anyone explain what is meant by the "wavy line" notation in the photo (bottom staff in each system)? It's from Peteris Vasks, Symphony for strings "Stimmen".
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4answers
266 views

Can a violinist, violist, or cellist transpose by perfect fifth by just playing one string higher or lower?

In Can I play an English horn part with a viola?, jjmusicnotes commented that "transposing down a fifth is a pretty straightforward practice" for violists. I'm not a string player, so I've never ...
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2answers
96 views

Is there a specific name for phrases in music that create tension/anger?

In a lot of music I hear phrases that are very hard hitting. Forgive the vague reference but this can be heard in orchestral music where for example a timpani, violin/strings all hit together for a ...
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3answers
248 views

Why do lower instruments speak “slower”?

Why do lower instruments, such as double bass and cello in an orchestra or chamber setting, are discerned by the ear slower than higher instruments (violin, flute, etc)? Does it have to do with the ...
3
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1answer
248 views

How to indicate divisi when 1st violin departs from remainder

This seems like something I've encountered a lot in practice, but can't think of the answer now or where to find a good example. Suppose I have a violin section, and the score calls for one player to ...
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3answers
417 views

Are there historical or musical reasons to why the concertmaster of an orchestra is a violinist?

So far, I have found and read a number of articles about the role and duties of an orchestra concertmaster, or first violinist. There is also this possibly related question which discusses the spatial ...
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2answers
2k views

Do orchestral string instruments need a pause before con sordino?

I’m a self-taught wannabe composer who’s playing with strings in Sibelius and I’m trying to learn the intricacies of writing for different techniques, such as con sordino, sul pont., etc. My question ...
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3answers
264 views

Double basses - C extension v 5 strings v neither

This is a curiosity of mine. Each time I attend a concert, I look at the double basses to see whether they have either a C extension, 5 strings, or neither. For the concerts that I have attended in ...
2
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1answer
260 views

Antiphonal violins and the arrangement of the strings in an orchestra

I asked a question on the arrangement of the string parts in Music Fans recently: Question in Music Fans. I asked there since the question was inspired by a particular performance of a particular ...
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3answers
131 views

In strings bowed instruments, is it possible to play a chord in two not adjacent strings?

Or would it be only possible if arpeggiated? For example in cello, to play G string in a chord with Bb in A string (being D string on the middle)
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1answer
122 views

Orchestra notation and harmony

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 ...
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5answers
1k views

When tuning an orchestra, why do some people play A followed by D and F together?

I've heard string players tune from a piano by playing A4, followed by D4 and F4 together. They said it makes it easier to tune. I've never gotten a good answer why this is. Is it just a strange ...
3
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1answer
1k views

What does “Flag.” mean in orchestra score?

At the very beginning of Mahler's Symphony No. 1, where the strings drone an A in seven octaves, what does "Flag." mean in the orchestral notation? Also, The Wikipedia page mentions ...with the ...
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1answer
2k views

Numbers above notes in orchestral score

In Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 (Op.74), near the end of the first movement, at rehearsal "S" there are numbers written above the notes for the 1st violin part (ref. upper right in image). What do ...
5
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1answer
146 views

What exactly is it that is so magical about rosin for a bow?

We all know that rosin is the main cause of friction on a string-instrument bow, but it also seems to have other properties. For example, when I have a good coat of rosin on my bow hairs, they tend ...
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4answers
263 views

The term for voice effect in orchestral music

What do we call those voices (it feels like lot of people singing together) in an orchestral music or epic music which make it more epic?
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1answer
752 views

What is the name of the object on the strings of the violin behind the bridge

I see on some violins there is something on the A and E strings between the tail peace and the bridge. What is it called and what does it do? I found a similar thing on the violins of the soloist in ...
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2answers
551 views

Vibrato on the viola

I have been the viola playing for about 2 years, and I feel like now is the time to learn vibrato. I thought I knew how, but it was actually terribly wrong. My sister tried to teach me, but I just ...
5
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2answers
320 views

Should very young bassists use a German bow?

I play bass with a German bow, and teach this to my students. Recently my school aquired a 1/8-size bass. Should I get a German bow for this one, or would it be too big? Should I rather use a French 1/...
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3answers
2k views

Can someone clarify the range of orchestral strings?

The Wiki article lists a 27 note range for the violin, viola, 'cello, and double bass. The first three are listed as conservative estimates, and less so for the double bass. Am I correctly inferring ...
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3answers
2k views

Can one tell by ear whether a bowed instrument is being played up or down?

I went to a concert the other day and noticed that the bows (violins, cellos, violas) were all coordinated as the orchestra played. It looks neat, but is there an audible difference if they're not in ...
6
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1answer
425 views

Just intonation with Finale Human Playback?

Is it possible to hear a piece in Finale in just intonation using the "human playback" mode and the built-in Garritan orchestra? If not, what is the best way of doing this, other than live performance?...
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8answers
6k views

What is the origin of the up bow and down bow symbols for bowed string instruments?

My brother is a beginning cellist and I was helping him annotate "up bow" and "down bow". I find it particularly strange that the "up bow" symbol is similar to a V. Intuitively, I would have thought ...
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4answers
13k views

Why is music for strings more likely to be in keys with sharps?

One thing I've noticed is that music written for strings, such as violin concertos, are a lot more likely to written in a key like D or A major than something like F or Bb major. I recently saw a ...
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6answers
3k views

Why does bowed string instrument size matter?

In the string family, you can buy instruments that are described in fractional sizes, like 3/4 violin. Is the tuning always the same, no matter the size of the instrument? Why is the instrument size ...
3
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2answers
2k views

How does the violin strings' gauge affect the instrument's functionality

There are several gauges in violin string, heavy, medium, thin etc. I know the heavier the strings the louder the tone, but Does it affect the richness (complexity of overtones etc.) of the tone? ...
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2answers
674 views

problems with fiddle tuning

I have been tuning my fiddle successfully for the past year (had about 4 months of lessons). Now my fiddle has gone kapluie on me. First my bridge went flying and that had to be re-installed. Then the ...
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2answers
1k views

Orchestral strings disposition (numeration meaning)

It's going to be the first time I'll be trying to compose a piece to be played by an orchestra and I don't know much about orchestral strings numeration/disposition. I just ran into this Composers ...
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2answers
412 views

Is there a chance for heavy violin strings to harm the instrument?

Is there anything like that that heavy or other kinds of violin-strings should break down the instrument?
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1answer
356 views

Are there reasons to choose between a round-section or an octogonal-section bow?

The initial part of a violin, viola, or cello bow in modern models is always octogonal, but the rest of the stick can be either of round section or octogonal-faceted. Is it simply a different ...
8
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1answer
490 views

Why is (stiffness/speed of sound-travel of the wood) important for a bow?

High-end violin bows have been made for centuries out of permanbouc (a now rare and endangered brasilian wood) or equivalent woods and now synthetic material. Permambouc wood is praised for is ...
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4answers
256 views

Teaching a group of people of varying skill levels

I'm volunteering at my high school, teaching violin/viola to beginners so that they can join the school orchestra, and I've run into a bit of a stump: they all started out as complete beginners, but ...
15
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4answers
12k views

How to remove all traces of rosin from a bow?

I saw once the case of a beginner violinist who turned out to be allergic to a specific type of rosin that came with his student violin outfit. Another hypoallergenic rosin was purchased and they used ...
7
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2answers
839 views

What is the earliest known use or indication of “col legno”

col legno or col legno battuto meaning : strike (the string) with the wood (of the bow) is commonly found in 20th century chamber music. But I have heard it might have been used earlier (at least 18th ...
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1answer
1k views

How does one change bow hair?

What are the steps to follow to unmount the hair from a bow and install a new set ? What kind of tools and products do you need beside a new set of bow hair ? How do you measure/adjust the length ...
38
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2answers
13k views

Why are violin bows longer than viola bows, than cello bows, than double-bass bows ?

What is the logic behind this ? As the larger instruments have larger gaps between the strings, I would have expected a larger bow to accomodate more easily continuous bowing while changing strings.