String Divisi Part 2

As a follow-up on my post about string divisi from two weeks ago, here a few more things to consider:

6.) Four-part triadic homophone harmony in violins, especially in the higher register is best divided in the way that the first violins play the top line plus its octave below while the seconds fill up the harmony between these two voices. You’ll get a more homogenous sound out of the violins plus the octave in the first violins will give you a better intonation on the chords.

7.) In cases where the strings carry the three functions of providing melody, chords and bass, it is common to have all violins on the melody (potentially in octaves), cellos and basses on the bass line and spreading out the harmony in a multiple divisi in the violas. As you won’t be needing an even balance between the chords and the rest, the multiple divisi on the violas will not be a problem plus the substance issues will not be too big as well as the high harmonics that give away the thinness of sound are covered by the violins.

8.) Try to divisi sections always in easy intervals. It is very tricky for violins sitting next to each other to intonate a minor second properly. Intonating a third or fourth is way easier and will give you a more pleasing result. All the points mentioned in my two posts about divisi are not something that always work and always is the ultimate solution. Every context needs its own decision and what works best is only to be learned from experience and developing a gut feeling. Still, it helps to keep these few general possibilities in the back of your mind.


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