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Orchestra l Strings Allison Wegner and Ashley Lear
Viol family Violin Viola Cello Bass * The harp is considered a part of the orchestral strings.
History of theViolin European origins date back to the “musical bow” of the 9th century; ancient predecessor called the Rabab possibly from Arabia. Practice of using a bow to rub the strings was adopted in the 11th century The rote and later the five-string vielle slowly integrated ribs into the design Before 1500, the viola da gamba was widely used in many settings. Modern violin emerged during the early 16th century.
Violin Construction Body is traditionally made from maple or sycamore. (Full size is 14 inches) Tuning pegs, located on the scroll at the top of the neck are usually ebony or rosewood. Fine tuning pegs are located at the bass of the strings. Originally strings were made from dried sheep intestines or catgut, modern strings are made from synthetic core (metals) either solid or stranded. Bow sticks made from Brazilian wood Pernambuco; bow frog made from ebony; ribbon made from horse hair. Maker uses ribs to create an exact arching of the body for the sake of acoustics. The f sound holes are located on the surface of the body. Friction between bow and string vibrates through the bridge and the sound post to the body of the violin where it resonates.
Non-fretted instrument Open strings from left to right; G, D, A, E. (occasionally extra doubling strings) Pitch range from G3 (below middle C) to the highest note on the modern piano C8. Usually non-transposing instrument. (exception = scordatura) Violinists read treble clef. Violin Tuning and Range
Violin in the orchestra Typically violins Violin section divided into first and second violin parts. Violin often called the “King of the Orchestra” First violinist is the concert master Violins can be warm and soothing or bright and shrill depending upon what is needed and the skill of the violinist.
Other Uses for Violin Violins in folk music referred to as fiddles (not usually memorized but passed on by ear) Italian classical violin (Niccolo Paganini) Jazz violin used as lead melody line Electric violins used in progressive rock Part of string quartet (typically 2 violins)
Emerged with violin during the early 16th century. Slightly larger than the violin (16 inch body) Richer, darker, more full-bodied timbre Reads alto clef (sometimes treble) Four strings left to right C, G, D, A It is a perfect 5th lower than the violin (still a non-transposing instrument) Typically carries an inner voice part.
Viola continued… Part of a stringed quartet violas in typical orchestra. Important role in chamber music (Mozart’s six-stringed ensembles) Used in some newer folk music John Cale is a notable violist who has helped in its popularity.
Important Differences Requires wider fingering so ideally larger hands. Requires more intense vibrato Violists often use the pad rather than the tip the finger much like a cellist. More weight must be applied by the bow due to thickness of strings. When entering in unison with violinists, violists have to begin the bowing a bit early.
Tips for beginners Children should begin with a 1/2 or 3/4 violin or viola Requires a good ear Keep bow perpendicular to strings Should be able to fit a pencil between the hair of the bow and the wood when tightened. DON’T USE TOO MUCH ROSIN! Draw bow closer to the fingerboard than the bridge. Invest in a shoulder rest.
Developed from the bass viol (violin) around the same time as the violin and viola. Body of a full size cello is 30 inches long (recommended for children to start on 1/2 size) Four open strings C, G, D, A sound one octave lower than the viola. Cellists read bass cleff. Although it varies according to the cellists skill, the range is from C2 up to C6. Celli have a mellow warm timbre.
Cello continued… Part of the stringed quartet or quintet. There are typically 8-12 celli in an orchestra. Cellist tend to carry inner-voice harmony in orchestras and there are often cello solos. Celli are used in jazz but not quite as much as the double bass. Notable cellist Yo Yo Ma
Students should sit on the edge of a chair/thighs parallel to the ground. Should be able to stand up quickly without moving the tail pin from its position. The neck should come right past your ear. Should have relatively nimble fingers (also large enough) Elbows should always be high. Use knees to stabilize the body between them. Tips for beginners
History From the viola da gamba family Bowed, fretted, stringed instruments appeared in 1400’s in Europe Germans shaped the bass like a viol - with sloped shoulders and a flat back Italians built basses with violin corners and a curved back 1800’s - fretless bass
History Early Baroque period - low profile Domenico Dragonetti ( ) First great bass virtuoso Revolutionary composer and player Bass players had their own music to play! Giovanni Bottesini ( ) Italian composer, conductor, and virtuoso performer Used the French bowing style
Construction Usually 1.8 meters long Top is made of spruce Sides, back and neck made of maple Fingerboard and Tailpiece made of ebony 4 or 5 strings made of steel (used to be made of gut) Tuning pegs are made of brass All parts are glued together except for the soundpost *Sizes and materials of the bass vary.
Sound Production Strings vibrate when bowed or plucked Vibrations travel through the bridge, through the soundpost and then to the back of the bass Vibrations ring through the pores in the wood and out through the F-holes
Tuning/Transposition Four strings (E A D G) Bass is the only transposing string instrument - they sound an octave lower than what is written Solo Tuning (F-sharp B E A) Most solo bass repertoire is written in solo tuning, so bassists don’t have to transpose Read a minor 7th below concert pitch in solo tuning
Clef & Range Bassists play in Bass, Tenor and Treble Clef, but usually in bass clef As solo music became more difficult (notes in higher octaves), composers began to write bass parts in higher clefs
Range C Extension Most popular way to extend the low range of the double bass Extends the E string chromatically down to a low C (lowest C on a piano)
Timbre Depends largely on the make of the bass Rounder back - darker sound Flat back - brighter sound Most basses have a darker sound in the normal octaves Sound gets brighter outside of the normal range
Role in the Orchestra Root of all chords Difficult to hear, but absence would be noticed The lowest sound in the orchestra Doubles parts with tuba and contra bassoon
Tips for Beginners Anyone can play the bass - lots of PATIENCE First: Bowing technique Then add left hand Most kids start on a 1/8 bass Full size is 3/4 7/8 is used by professional orchestral bassists (more wood and BIG sound)
Left Hand Technique Vibrato: stylistic oscillation of the pitch caused by rotating the upper arm at shoulder joint. Glissando: sliding of the finger up or down the neck to create runs. Harmonics: touching or depressing of the strings to create specific tones or overtones (natural or artificial)
Right hand technique Double Stop: playing of two notes at the same time. Pizzicato: plucking the string with finger of thumb directly. Col legno: use of the wood rather than the the hair of the bow. (usually percussive) Spiccato: striking strings with the hair of bow.
Bowing Styles German: more power and more sound, easier to start on (hand is underneath the bow), Dragonetti bow French: used by cellists, have more control, more bowing style options, more difficult because gravity works against it Both are equally common Professional symphonies
Rosin Made from resin (obtained from pines and other plants) Bass rosin is softer and stickier than violin rosin (in order to grab the thicker strings) Increases friction between the bow hair and the strings
Other String Accessories Wolf tone eliminators Mutes Humidifiers Endpin stops of straps Tuners Metronomes Shoulder pad
Construction About 80 lbs. / 6 ft. high 6.5 octaves (46-47 strings) Lowest strings made of copper or steel- wound nylon Middle strings made of gut Highest strings made of nylon Walnut, maple, cherry, and ash wood can be used to make the body of the harp Soundboard is usually spruce
3 Types of Harps Arched Harp: soundbox and neck forming a curve Angular Harp: soundbox and neck form a right angle Frame Harp: neck and soundbox are joined by a column to create a triangular shape
Pedaling 7 pedals (one for each note) Discs at the top rotate when pedal is pushed Pegs pinch off the string 3 pedal positions (flat, natural, sharp) Sebastian Erard (1810) - double-action pedal system Strings tuned to C-flat Major scale
Sound Production Taut strings are plucked, vibrate down into soundboard Sound projects out from the wood and from the sound holes in the back of the soundbox
Tuning Tuned to a C-flat Major scale It is possible to play in almost any key Tune when string is open (no pedals!) String is at full length when pedal is up (in flat position) Can use a tuning key to adjust the pitch slightly p,andhowit’splayed.aspa?crid=0&lid= http://www.soundjunction.org/theconstructionofthehar p,andhowit’splayed.aspa?crid=0&lid=
Transposition, Clef & Range Non transposing instrument Harpists set the pedals to the key at the start of a piece (accidentals signal pedal changing!) Play off of the Grand Staff (Right hand plays treble clef, left hand plays bass clef)
Technique Two schools of technique Salzedo: elbows up and forearms parallel to the ground, many gestures while playing (visual), never rest arms on soundboard, louder sound French: wrists are fluid, right arm rests on soundboard, not as much gesturing, can play faster, more quiet
Role in the Orchestra Add color to the orchestra Usually one or two harpists in a symphony orchestra Sometimes the harps are covered by other instruments, unless the composer knew how to write for harps
Tips for Beginners Children and beginning adults start on a lever harp Dexterity of the fingers and previous piano skills would be an advantage Teachers: Be aware of your young harpist’s needs - literature is limited for middle school orchestras Beginners are also limited in the number of keys they can play (using a lever harp) Teachers: Might need to arrange a harp part to make it easier for student to read.
Helpful Sites Violinonline.com (viola, cello) Dsokids.com (guide to the orchestra) orchestralibrary.com
Works Cited Elgar, Raymond. Introduction to the Double Bass. London, Lowe and Brydone (Printers) LTD, Brun, Paul. A History of the Double Bass. Published in France, translated in basshist.htmlhttp://www.geocities.com/Vienna/1187/Music/ basshist.html oftheharp,andhowit%e2%80%99splayed.asp a?crid=0&lid= http://www.soundjunction.org/theconstruction oftheharp,andhowit%e2%80%99splayed.asp a?crid=0&lid=
Works Cited continued… ster.shtmlhttp://www.harpspectrum.org/pedal/woo ster.shtml Stowell, Robin. The Early Violin and Viola:A practice Guide. Cambridge University Press Cowling, Elizabeth. The Cello. Chalres Scribner’s Sons New York