• Register
  • Help
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Topic: Divisi Questions

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    Divisi Questions

    Hi there,

    I have one or two questions about "divisi" that hopefully someone can help me with.

    1. Lets say Vlns1 divides in two, do they have to be playing simple things like octaves, or is it ok to have them playing something like counterpoint in different rythms?

    2. When it comes to performance time, are the players playing each of the divisi given separate sheets, or are the two parts of the divisi printed on the same staff?

    3. Is it ok to have the section divide for as little as a bar?

    4. I'm having a bit of difficulty understanding what this diagram from the course means.

    String parts may be divided thus:
    http://northernsounds.com/forum/prin...ringparts1.jpg
    http://northernsounds.com/forum/prin...ringparts2.jpg

    Could anyone help me understnd?

    I realise my questions might be stupid (I have no idea if the are or not), but my excuse is that I have no musical training at all, except from what I have read myself from books and this website. So I figure I'll only be sure of things if I ask.

    Thanks in advance,
    Dave

  2. #2

    Re: Divisi Questions

    I am new too -- actually even newer than you. From what I've seen from looking at scores, all these are possibilities, but having a section play the same thing but in harmony is the most common, then in octaves happens sometimes, and then two contrapuntal parts is least common, though it does happen. Sometimes they divide for as short as a few notes.
    Vista / Sonar Home Studio 6 / GPO 2d edition / Melodyne Uno 1.8

  3. #3

    Re: Divisi Questions

    1. Lets say Vlns1 divides in two, do they have to be playing simple things like octaves, or is it ok to have them playing something like counterpoint in different rythms?
    Both is OK.

    2. When it comes to performance time, are the players playing each of the divisi given separate sheets, or are the two parts of the divisi printed on the same staff?
    Normally both printed on the same staff.

    3. Is it ok to have the section divide for as little as a bar?
    Yes.

    About the mentioned examples, I suppose this is just shorthand in the case you write a chord in a conductors score or such.

    Hope this helps,
    Hannes
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  4. #4

    Re: Divisi Questions

    1. Both are common.

    2. Normally, on the same staff. If the two parts are fairly independant, it can be useful to write them on seperate staves; however, both staves would still appear in the same printed part. (See Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" for an example of a score where all the string sections are divisi almost throughout.)

    3. Yes. You can have the section divide for only one note if you want.

    4. Can't help you with this one, sorry.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  5. #5

    Re: Divisi Questions

    1. I like to look at this from the violinists' perspective. If you’re going to have 3 lines in the violins, 2 of them being direct octaves, then the first violins should be playing in octaves (if that is indeed the higher melodic line.) It also makes the score clearer and allows the two violinists sharing music to tune to each other. But if this 3-part divisi is commonplace throughout the entire score, you might want to consider having 3 separate violin sections (I, II, III.) See the adagio from Shostakovich’s 5th for reference.

    A common misconception about violin parts is that the first violins always have to play above the seconds. The general idea is that the firsts should mostly play above the seconds because they are the stronger voice. If you want the melody in octaves, but also want some harmony in between those octaves, you put the harmony/counterpoint in the seconds.

    2. Unless you want to make separate parts, there is no reason to make them. When violinists play divisi there are two ways to represent it on a single page. The lazy way is to write both parts on the same line, stems facing in opposite directions if needed. The proper way (and also the best way represented on scores) is to simply split into two lines at however many measures are needed from the left of the page to make it look nice. It should look more or less like piano music, but with both lines in the treble clef. The question then becomes: do you fill in the second line with a unison part before you've reached the actual divisi, or leave it full of rests? I prefer to put rests where there is no divisi wherever appropriate, because I think marking div. at the moment of divisi is enough, and lets the violinists know exactly where the divisi is occurring.

    Another point I'd have against making separate parts is that violinists are grouped two-to-a-part and one of them isn't used to turning pages during a performance. Try to make it a general rule to make separate staves for divisi except for very brief (I'm talking 1-2 measures) divisi.

    3. If you absolutely must have an extra note in the violin harmony, it is perfectly okay to write it in and mark it divisi. Since two performers share a part, they already know how to divide up the line. Three notes in a single staff is too much, though, because it makes it difficult to work out who is playing what (unless you’re writing a modern piece and want them to choose randomly.) But also consider that you can use double stops if the lack of vibrato doesn't matter. With a full string section you can have up to 9 separate notes in a single chord.

    4. What has to be understood before reading Rimsky-Korsakov's Principles is that much of it is his opinion on what sounds sonically pleasing to the ear. They’re not rules in the slightest, but good to know in case you’re unsure of anything. In the diagram he is mainly just pointing out common uses of divisi. Assume in each group the other strings are not playing divisi, for example, in group D the first violins, second violins, and violas are not split up. So it looks like A, B, C, and D are grouped based on their "closeness" in range, meaning Rimsky-Korsakov feels strings sound better when playing in closed harmonies. E would be less common because first violins are generally higher than violas, and the second violins would be more suited to playing closer to the viola range, etc.

    Your questions aren’t stupid at all. Orchestration requires confidence and common sense, believe it or not, and it's funny how many people are scared off from it because there are so many instruments, staves, and texts on the subject. Read enough scores with some recordings and pretty soon you can hear it away from any sound at all. There are patterns to watch for, but any good composer can master it with a few years of practice.

  6. #6

    Re: Divisi Questions

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks very much diligamus, Hannes_F, danpowers and especially Sil for the time you took to help me and explain everything so well. You've cleared everything up for me. So you reccomend reading scores? Could anyone reccomend anywhere to get scores? wether for free or at a price?

    Thanks,
    Dave

  7. #7

    Re: Divisi Questions

    Here's a good source of downloadable free scores (public domain editions only):

    http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  8. #8

    Re: Divisi Questions

    Pretty much any renowned composer's repertoire of scores is worth studying at some point, from Bach to John Cage, but since most people, like myself, are only really interested in the "film score" sound, the best scores to study (and I say "best" because they are the easiest to find and interpret through several recordings) are:

    Mahler Symphonies
    -the most film-score like being the final movement of his Symphony No. 1, the first and last of his Symphony No. 2, the first of his Symphony No. 3, the entirety of the 5th, and the entirety of the 6th.

    Shostakovich Symphonies
    -John Williams owes his action sequences to the many allegros from Shostakovich's 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, and 11th. The slower movements are important for string writing, especially in the 5th and 11th.

    Prokofiev ballets and film scores
    -Romeo and Juliet, Scythian Suite, and above all, his scores for Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible

    Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe is a must-have for wordless choral writing and more John Williams-ness.

    Stravinsky's Ballets
    -everyone already knows Petrouchka, Rite of Spring, and Firebird are essential
    -his non-ballet music is great too, but not so much for the film score sound

    Vaughan Williams
    -an oft-overlooked composer who inspired Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann, composed some important symphonies (check out nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7), film scores, choral works (check out Dona Nobis Pacem), and the powerful Tallis fantasia.

    Speaking of the Tallis fantasia, Barber's Adagio for Strings also shows how to best utilize synchopation, dissonances, and harmony for the purposes of bringing out emotion.

    Last, if you like Mahler, you can trace his work back to composers such as Wagner, Bruckner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Liszt, Beethoven, and Mozart to find where he's coming from. Mahler is my favourite.

  9. #9

    Re: Divisi Questions

    Thanks for the great link danpowers.

    Sil, its funny you mention the "film score sound" because thats exactly what I'm interested in achieving too. Also, the scores you mentioned happen to be some of my fave pieces, e.g Romeo&juliet, Nevsky, Tallis. So thats great advice for me, thanks,

    Dave

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •