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big headphones
Jun-26-2008, 01:51
Hi,

I am in urgent need of some advice about composing for solo violoncello. I am in a foreign country and have three days to compose a solo cello accompaniment to a vocal track.

I have some ideas in mind and would be really grateful of help in order to realise them.

Firstly I want to know what is the name for style of playing where the bow glides across the 4 strings playing broken chords lightly / sometimes can sound 'scratchy'? Does it have a name? How do you write it? How difficult is it to play?

Secondly, in order to play broken chords easily and in a flowing manner, what are the chord positions / inversions?

If anyone has any other pearls of wisdom related to composing for cello, I'd be delighted to hear them.

Many thanks!

Big headphones

Contratrombone64
Jun-26-2008, 05:49
I'm a viola player, hence, not a cello expert. Remember if you need inspiration about broken chords, Bach's Six solo cello sonatas are almost the bible for what's possible. (except for number 6, which was written for a five string instrument).

Soubasse
Jun-26-2008, 08:52
Firstly I want to know what is the name for style of playing where the bow glides across the 4 strings playing broken chords lightly / sometimes can sound 'scratchy'? Does it have a name? How do you write it? How difficult is it to play?

I'm just a little unclear with this description, however I could narrow it down to two possibilities.
1) If you're referring to the technique of sounding more than one string under the same bow, then that is double stopping (or triple stopping if you manage three strings simultaneously). I'm not 100% sure if all four strings simultaneously is actually possible (you'd need to ask a cellist - I'm just an arranging/composing teacher:)).

2) If on the other hand, you're referring to a technique of rapidly bowing across all four strings in quick succession, that that would have to count as an arpeggio, (unless a string player wants to set me right on a more correct term of which I was not aware).

You could probably notate it the same way you would an arpeggiated chord on a piano, ie, a straight chord with the vertical, squiggly line on the left (very technical term there!)

Also, if you're after a "scratchy" sound, you might be thinking of bowing near the bridge, in which case you write "sul ponticello."


Secondly, in order to play broken chords easily and in a flowing manner, what are the chord positions / inversions?
That will depend largely on the actual chord notes and which string and position the various notes would be played on.
Hope that's of some help. Good luck

Matt

big headphones
Jun-26-2008, 16:31
I listened to the Bach Suites last night, they're very inspiring. thanks for the suggestion!

Also thanks Matt for the suggestions re arpeggiated chords. I think I will have to discuss the way they're played with the musician, as it's probably an expressive quality that I'm looking for in terms of the sound produced.

Re double stopping, you're right that 4 string chords are pretty much impossible. I read somewhere that it's easier to play 5ths and 6ths, as opposed to 3rd intervals which is why I was wondering about the intervals of chords.

I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Thanks again!

Soubasse
Jun-27-2008, 00:45
Also thanks Matt for the suggestions re arpeggiated chords. Happy to help
I think I will have to discuss the way they're played with the musician, That's always by far the best way to go. You can read as many text books as you like or go to tutors or whatever, but there's little that can inform as much as an experienced player on the instrument for which you're writing. You can also find that whomever you speak with can be quite enthusiastic about it because they're interested in the fact that someone wants to write something for their instrument - that's been my experience anyway.
I read somewhere that it's easier to play 5ths and 6ths, as opposed to 3rd intervals which is why I was wondering about the intervals of chords.Exactly, because the open tuning of the strings is in 5ths, anything a 5th or wider is more comfortable to play. Something I found quite interesting when playing mandolin (same tuning as violin) - it's a good discipline because I was forced to think away from the common keyboard practice of playing all the closest notes together and actually think about which chord notes went onto which string.