I'm trying to polish off my score for the musical theater. Once again, I am having trouble with my string section. The problem, as always, is too few instruments (in this case 5, not counting the string bass). Assuming that the strings will be amplifed and, therefore, volume will not be a consideration, the main problem is how to make it sound full in the bigger numbers. So, I am once again re-thinking the makeup of the section.
I am now considering using three violins and two cellos. This type of combo has been used before in musicals. The three amplified violins in unison over (or under) reeds, or doubled with a single reed, sounds okay. So does using it as the lead voice on organ pads. They also work well divided, in the softer numbers, adding a lot to he harmony.
A single cello in either scenario works well. But sometimes I need two for chords that are too low. Considering the number of changes, having the cello play double stops in those cases would probably be too difficult and cumbersome.
So, since I need two cellos, I am wondering if it makes sense to have the second cello lay out when I only have one lower voice. That would leave the second cellist with a very small part to play in the score. I know, in other shows, the second cellist simply doubles the first, in unison, when the second lower voice isn't needed. Some B'way orchestrators tell me that this is fine. Others say, don't double two string instruments in unison, ever (i.e. it's better to go with a single voice, even if it sounds thin). In some numbers I have the string bass doubling a single cello line at the octave. Again, I wonder if I shouldn't use two cellos in unison doubled by the bass below, to give them equal weight.
I'd like to hear a few more opinions about this before making up my mind. What are the pros and cons. Are the Thanks.