A string quartet is musical group of four members who are performing together playing specific stringed instruments. The string in the “string quartet” indicates that all of the instruments in the string quartet make a sound by using vibrating strings. Also, the word quartet in the “string quartet” indicates that there are four musicians in the group. In reality, there are and should be four players in a quartet, just like there are four ‘quarters’ in a dollar. The term ‘string quartet’ can also refer to a piece of music written for group of four musicians to perform.
A string quartet comprises of specific string instruments. These string instruments are four in number. The instruments include two violins, a viola, and a cello. All of these instruments are played by either plucking the strings or by using a bow. A bow is a piece of wood, that is long and thin, strung with horse hair that is rubbed against the strings of the instrument which make the instrument string to vibrate and produce musical notes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these instruments.
The violin is the smallest instrument in the group of the quartet. Violins typically play the note with highest pitch in the music. There are two violins in a quartet. The parts in the music that these instruments play are commonly called the ‘first violin‘ and ‘second violin.’ The first violin usually plays the highest notes in the quartet and frequently plays the melody more regularly than the other players in the group. The first violin part is often more technically difficult than the second violin part, and the first violinist is often considered to be the leader of the quartet. The second violin normally plays notes that are lower than the first violin and higher than the notes for viola.
The viola is another member in the group and is the middle sized instrument of the quartet. Viola looks very identical to the violin played in the same manner by resting the instrument under the player’s chin. However, Viola is built slightly larger in size than a violin and it has a broader and deeper tone. Viola is frequently plays notes in the middle range, usually lower than the second violin but higher than the cello.
The cello is the largest instrument of the quartet and also called the violoncello. It is so large to the extent that it cannot be held on shoulder like the violin or viola and it has to rest on the ground and be played between the player legs. In addition, Cello can play the lowest notes of all the instruments in the quartet and often use to fulfill this role.
String Quartet Music Arrangements
The term ‘string quartet’ is not only refers to the group of four musicians, but also to a piece of music that uses the specific instrumentation of two violins, a viola and a cello. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was a famous musician and composer of the Classical period and known to be the father of string quartets. Specifically, Joseph Haydn formalized the standard instrumentation of a string quartet and the form. The form of a piece of music is how the music is arranged or organized. A regular quartet group is normally organized into four movements, or shorter pieces that are played one after another. Many composers have written so many music for string quartets and they are still being composed today.
Click the link below to watch the quartet performance
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