So What's a String Quartet Anyway?

Quiz: What is the instrumentation for a string quartet?

a) 4 violins

b) violin, viola, cello, double bass

c) violin, violin, viola, cello

d) any combination of 4 string instruments


Answer: c) violin, violin, viola and cello. This combination mirrors the vocal ranges of soprano, alto, tenor and bass.


Did you know that the term "string quartet" not only defines the instrumentation but also refers to a musical form? A string quartet is a multi-movement sonata cycle form, usually in 3 or 4 movements. [see past blog on sonata cycle]


The string quartet epitomizes the concept of chamber music: four musicians having a musical conversation. Each has an equal voice and musical themes and ideas are "discussed".

Haydn is usually credited with the development of the string quartet in the early Classical period and it became very popular with both composers, performers and audiences. The writing of a string quartet poses a challenge to the composer who has to give each instrument a unique voice within the same family of instruments. With no doubled parts, each performer effectively has a solo part within an interactive group. The audience can follow and appreciate the "conversation".


The string quartet has endured for hundreds of years with modern day composers still writing for these instruments in this form.


On May 24th at 3pm, join us at St. Paul's United Church in Stirling to hear the Madoc Quartet present a new string quartet by Canadian composer, Jacques Marchand. There will be a "meet the composer" event after the concert!

With cookies!

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