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Hello there! I'm a composer that's new to the Orchestral Setting and have some possibly general questions. I understand very little about String Instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass) and would like to know some techniques that I could use in my music, or even ways to divide up each section (I've seen things like 2 desks in Violin parts and understand that, but I don't know much else). Would string players please explain some extended techniques to me?

Thank you in advance!

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I feel like a party pooper, but I'd suggest you try writing a few pieces with very standard string parts first, if you've never written for them.  Be sure you understand the mechanics of the basics before writing anything with extended techniques, so you can be sure you're confident with the whole toolbox and that the extended techniques will really sizzle when you do add them.  You want them to provide a strong statement and contrast, so make sure the material they contrast with is confident.  Maybe a string quartet that uses the basics?  You want to get your most fundamental questions answered early in your compositional journey, so simplify the material you produce and people will be able to give you stronger feedback.  The simpler the material, the more clearly the strengths and weaknesses stand out. 

I'd suggest you get some scores out of the library, or listen to music on youtube that has the score rolling by in real time, or go to some concerts, and see how other composers have used their string players historically.  If it's possible, go sit in on a rehearsal and listen to the way the conductor adjusts the balance of the orchestra when a composer hasn't gotten things quite right and some voices get lost in the larger texture.  (It's not unusual for conductors to add or subtract players from what is specified in the score in certain sections of a piece if the balance isn't working, or change dynamics from what was written, although the timber of individual instruments or acoustics of the performance space is as likely a culprit as the composition).  Take notes about what you like and what you don't like.  Enjoy the journey!

And definitely go read about extended techniques and take some notes.  (:

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Feel free to post some string compositions, and we can tell you if something doesn't work. Also, the Young Composrs wiki has some information on your questions..

Edited by ilv
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