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Thread: Why is the string quartet ideal?

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    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    Why is the string quartet ideal?

    I have asked this question elsewhere before and, to tell you the truth, I have never been completely satisfied with the answers In chamber music, one can hear the duo, the trio, the quartet, the quintet, the sextet, and more. The string quartet is by far the preferred medium. Simple question: why?

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    Midshipman, Forte Gary Blanchard's Avatar
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    I can only answer this from my own point of view, so it is not a definitive answer. To me, as a litener, the combination of violins, viola, and cello is very pleasing to the ear and seems to connect with something within me. I guess it is my idea of "soul" music; it really touches me and lifts me up.

    In terms of writing, I find the instruments very easy to write for. I know the most about their range, voices, etc. I also feel that they provide the best voice for my compositions.

    I don't know that this helps you, but it helped me to put this into writing. Thanks for the question.

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    Maybe it's just an issue of simplicity, and default. The chord is four notes right? So maybe things just work out for the quartet.

    Note Good Sextet is Souvenir de Florence

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Another angle of possibility of quartet being preferred, is the 4 voices of the choir:
    • Soprano = Violin #1
    • Alto = Violin #2
    • Tenor = Viola
    • Bass = Cello
    Of course when it becomes a Piano Quartet, the above theory gets thrown out the window

    Kh

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    Midshipman, Forte Gary Blanchard's Avatar
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    It's funny, I was just musing on my way to work this morning. It came to me that the strings come, perhaps, closest to the sound of the human voice, then I come and read Krummhorn's reply. I am glad to see this discussion; it is really making me think.

  6. #6
    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    Me too! I appreciate these enlightened answers. It helps articulate in words what one feels and takes for granted. And let's not forget those early composers, like Haydn, who obviously found considerable value in this particular medium. I have also read, on Wikipedia I think, that the string quartet is perceived as an ultimate challenge in composition because it is like the orchestra reduced to its bare essential elements.

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