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View Poll Results: What instrument will take the bass line when the cello solo starts coming to a close?

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Thread: String Quartet Composition

  1. #1
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    Default String Quartet Composition

    I have been listening to Mozart's string quartets to get some inspiration for my string quartet. I guess you could say I already used something that Mozart used a lot, alberti bass. Not sure how difficult that is for a cellist but at least I don't have it in a key like C# major. My string quartet is in A major.

    Speaking of which I'm not sure of what clef to use for my cello solo, I have gotten arguments for all 3 clefs:

    Bass clef argument:

    The bass clef is what is used most of the time on the cello. A few ledger lines if you go up to say G# in the first octave isn't a big deal, right? Just use bass clef and save yourself the headache of translating tenor clef to bass clef(that is basically what I do every time I read tenor clef is translate it to bass or treble clef as I see fit).

    Tenor clef argument:

    The tenor clef is more commonly used for high notes on the cello. Since you are planning on the solo being bright sounding instead of having a lot of bass, you should use the tenor clef.

    Treble clef argument:

    You said you don't sight read in tenor clef all that well. Using treble clef might make it easier to read, but I could be wrong. Maybe you should have a cellist look at it after you have finished composing your string quartet.

    So what clef should I use and also what instrument is going to take the bass line when I start transitioning from the cello solo to all 4 instruments being together again?

  2. #2
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    Hey, I would totally give feedback if I could see your score and an audio recording of that score. I can't give feedback without knowing what the composition sounds like.

  3. #3
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lachlan1415 View Post
    Hey, I would totally give feedback if I could see your score and an audio recording of that score. I can't give feedback without knowing what the composition sounds like.
    I would not assume there is a composition to be heard until and unless you see it.

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    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

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    Senior Member SuperTonic's Avatar
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    Just a comment from a cellist. Alberti bass is not idiomatic for the cello (or any stringed instrument), it was really intended for keyboard instruments. That's not to say it can't work, I'd have to hear the final result to judge that. But my instincts tell me that it will sound odd played on a cello.

    As far as clef is concerned, just write what you are more comfortable with. Any cellist who has been playing the instrument for at least a few years should be able to transition between all 3 fluently. If you know a beginner will be playing your piece then write it in bass clef unless you intentionally want to give him or her a challenge.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperTonic View Post
    Just a comment from a cellist. Alberti bass is not idiomatic for the cello (or any stringed instrument), it was really intended for keyboard instruments. That's not to say it can't work, I'd have to hear the final result to judge that.
    While you are correct that it is not idiomatic, ironically I just listened this morning to Mozart's Piano Quartet in G minor, K478 and there was a passage where the cello plays an Alberti bass figure and my first thought when hearing it was that is was something I normally don't hear.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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