GARRITAN INTERACTIVE
PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION
by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov



Chapter IV
COMPOSITION


Lesson Notes: This lesson discusses
the use of SOLO strings.




Soli in the strings.

Although, in any orchestral piece, numerous instances are to be found of melodies and phrases entrusted to a solo wind instrument (generally the first of each group, wood-wind or brass), solos for stringed instruments, on the other hand, are extremely rare. Whilst the 1st violin and 1st ‘cello are fairly frequently used in this manner, the solo viola is seldom found, and a solo on the double bass is practically unknown.

Professor Belkin Comments: Solos for all strings are more common now than in RK’s time.

Phrases demanding particular individuality of expression are entrusted to solo instruments; likewise passages that require extraordinary technique, beyond the scope of the orchestral rank and file. The comparatively weak tone of the solo instrument necessitates light, transparent accompaniment. Difficult virtuoso solos should not be written, as they attract too much attention to a particular instrument.

Professor Belkin Comments: This is an important point: There is a danger if the solo string part is too showy that the work will sound like an unfinished concerto!

Solo stringed instruments are also used when vigorous expression and technical facility are not required, but simply in order to obtain that singular difference in color which exists between a solo stringed instrument and strings in unison. Two solo instruments can be coupled together, e. g. 2 Violins soli, etc. and in very rare cases a quartet of solo strings may be employed.


Professor Belkin Comments: It is important to understand that this difference is not mainly one of force, but of CHARACTER. A solo instrument has an intimacy which is totally unlike a group. The effect is that of an individual vs. a crowd.


Violin solo:

Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:


No.222 - 223. Snegourotchka Section 54, Section 275.

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Other References:
The May Night, pp. 64 - 78.
Mlada, Act 1 Section 52; Act III, before Section 19.
A Fairy Tale Section W
Sheherazade, 1st movement Section C, Section G; also the passages at the start of each movement.
Spanish Capriccio, Section H, Section K Section R, and the cadence on p. 38.
Snegourotchka Section 274, Section 279 - 2 Vns soli (cf. Ex. 9).

No.224. Legend of Kitesh Section 310 - Vn. solo, on harmonic basis of strings sul ponticello and wood-wind.

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Viola solo:
Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No.225. Snegourotchka Section 212.

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Other References:
Sadko Section 137.

No.226. The Golden Cockerel Section 163; cf. also Section 174, Section 177.

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Violincello solo:
Other References:
Snegourotchka Section 187 (cf. Ex 102).
The Christmas Night, before Section 29, Section 130.
Mlada, Act III Section 36
The Golden Cockerel Section 177, Section 180 (cf. Ex. 229).


Double bass solo:
Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No. 227. Mlada, Act II Section 10 -12 – a special instance where the first string is tuned down.


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Solo Quartet:

Score References & Musical Examples Using GPO:



No. 228. Tsar Saltan Section 248 - Vn. I, Vn II, Viola, ‘Cello.


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Other References:
The Christmas Night Section 222 – Vn., Viola, ‘Cello, D. bass.
The case of a solo stringed instrument doubled by the wood-wind in unison must not be forgotten. The object is to attain great purity and abundance of tone, without impairing the timbre of the solo instrument (especially in the high and low registers), or to produce a certain highly-colored effect.

Professor Belkin Comments: This kind of solo is MUCH rarer, since it does not have the same intimacy as one instrument.


Examples:
Mlada, Act II Section 52 – Vn + Fl.; Acti IV Section 31 – Viol. + Fl + Harp.
The Christmas Night Section 212 - 2Vns + Fl.+ Small CI. (cf. Ex. 153).
Pan Voyevoda Section 67 – 2 Vns + 2 Ob.; 2 Violas + 2 Cl.
Legend of Kitesh Section 306 – Bass cl. + C-fag. (cf. Ex 10).
Legend of Kitesh Section 309 – Vn. + Fl.
No. 229. The Golden Cockerel Section 179 - Vn. + Picc.; 'Cello + Bass cl.

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As shown in Chap. II, 2 Vns soli or Violin solo + Fl. (Picc.) are often sufficient to double a melody in the upper register.

Examples:
Sadko Section 207 - cf. Chap. II, p. 42 and Ex. 24.
No. 230. Russian Easter Fête, p. 32 - 2 Solo violins (in harmonics).

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No. 231. Legend of Kitesh Section 297 - 2 Solo violins + Picc.


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