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Two Stringed Instruments in Unison?

I have been receiving conflicting information from orchestration bigwigs. Some say that composers should never orchestrate two stringed instruments together because they will be ever so slightly out of tune with each other. But then there are compositions like Vivaldi's Violin Concerto Op 3 No 8 that have two violins playing in unison. What's the scoop?

Update:

I meant a smaller ensemble with a section consisting of only 2 stringed instruments, ie, a section with 2 violins playing unison. Will that sound too out of tune or is it okay to have a section consisting ONLY of two violins/violas/cellos

4 Answers

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  • 2 months ago

    Anyone saying it cannot sound good has strange and illogical ideas...

    Think of what a Chorus effect unit or guitar pedal does:

    It deliberately splits the sounds and puts it through different phase & frequency shifts to make it appear there is more than one instrument playing at the same time!Two or more instruments closely in tune are generally considered to add to the depth and quality of the overall sound; that's why devices exist to emulate the effect from a single instruments!

    Skip to 2:00 in this video to hear a strong chorus effect:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmN7fK3fKUE

    Youtube thumbnail

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  • 2 months ago

    What is an "orchestration bigwig"? Well the "bigwig" gave you erroneous information. Violins in an orchestra play in unison all the time and in tune.

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  • 2 months ago

    Fine string players, play in tune.  If you have a section of 8 First Violins in an orchestra - they are playing in unison, they darn well better be playing in tune.  There are many examples in all music literature when two Instruments - two of the same or any 2 - play in unison.  Whoever told you not to do this, is WRONG - and you are right.  I have orchestrated hundreds of professional and educational works, and hold multiple degrees in Theory.  Someone you are talking to, is an idiot. Good luck with your writing!  (Glad I checked - damn AutoFill!)

    • Mamianka
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Sure - even TWO players can play in tune.  that is what we are trained to do - then out own ears take over.

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  • 2 months ago

    Its a matter of choice. That "slight out of tune" is part of the reason that the mandolin and the oud sound so good.

    • Mamianka
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Yes, even among classical players in a section - micro variances create warmth and texture.

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