I would like to have a melody played by a violin section, and in addition, I would like to have a smooth 4 parts harmonic \"carpet\" (or pad, I do not know how to name it). The simplest thing that comes to mind is:
- Violin 1 section for melody.
- Violin 2 section for first harmonic.
- Viola section for second harmonic part.
- Cello section for thirs harmonic part.
- Bass section for fourth harmonic part.
Do you think this is feasible, or do I have also to experiment with maybe less section and use divisi inside one or many sections ? Or can I also layer some woodwinds and/or brass with the string sections ? I really want a smooth sound, only an harmonic basement (no rhythm, accent or whatever).
I know this is maybe a very generic question, but any advice/hint will be greatly appreciated.
There ar soooo many possibilities. It all depends on how much separation you need from your foreground (melody) and background harmony. For example, if you want an extrmely lyric phrase, emphasyzing your melody, you can double the main line with 1st, 2nd Violins, even Violas, and maintaining a soft 3 part harmony with Cellos and Basses.
The configuration you mention, will produce more even sound among the different voices.
Another thing to consider is that the basses and cellos frequently play the bass line in octaves, which makes for a fuller overall sound. You might want to divide the cellos, and have one part play the bass line and the other play a harmony part.
It\'s true, \"There are soo many possiblities,\" and this is just one of them.
Of course I\'ve found the following very effective:
[*]Violins playing the melody line, displaced by an octave.[*]Viola playing top of the underlying triad (or top of seventh chord).[*]Cello playing middle of the underlying triad (or divisi on the middle two notes of s seventh chord).[*]The contrabass playing the bottom of the root of the underlying chord.
Definitely many, many possibilities. The \"classical\" approach is doubling cellos and basses in octaves, and otherwise treating the strings as you would a choir: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. This is also a very easy approach to throw something down, if you don\'t want to sweat it too much.
Experimentation can lead to a lot of great other ways to do it. One of my favorite things I have done a few times is to double the basses up an octave with the violas instead of the cellos. It limits the overall playable range, but the sound is very different than using cellos, and very musical. Crossing voices and putting the cellos higher than the violas works well with this too.
Or try letting the basses cover the baseline, and doubling cellos and vlns I at the octave for a melody, and letting vlns II and viola play harmony. This can give a very lyrical quality to melodies.
Just my personal taste, but I reserve violin melodies in octaves for rare occasions, usually only if I have a lot of divisi, and have the first violins divided at the octave, or if there is a whole lot of additional orchestral texture going on, and I really want it to cut through.
In general, there\'s no wrong way to do the string parts. The string sound is very forgiving, and is a lot easier to make work than winds, in my opinion.