We have just added new string sheet music to our online shop. The new string sheet music comprises four cello quartets, two intermediate cello duets and one violin and cello duet.
The Cello Quartets
The cello quartets are Pirates’ Return, Poldark, The Magnificent Seven and a new composition called Together. All of the parts are of early intermediate standard and all of the pieces are around three minutes long. Together uses the opening notes from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells as an ostinato theme.
The Cello Duets
The new early intermediate cello duetsPirates MeetThe Magnificent Seven are an arrangment of the main theme of The Magnificent Seven and a duet inspired by the song He’s a Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean. Both use easy but imaginative effects on the cello to bring the mood to life.
The Violin and Cello Duet
The violin and cello duet is of special historic interest. It is an arrangement of a short piece written by the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz (under the name of Jim Hoyl.) Heifetz wrote this song – When You Make Love to Me Don’t Make Believe – after he bet one of his friends that he could compose a piece that would get into the top ten. Needless to say Heifetz won his bet. Despite this less than serious start, Heifetz plays this song with great tenderness…
Fedora Strings is now selling three new early intermediate cello duets for £6.99. The three duets comprise an arrangement of Over the Hills and Far Away, an arrangement of Basse Dance and a new composition called Sleazy.
The music is around Grades 3 – 5 . It’s the first time our website has sold music at this technical level and it’s an area we’re hoping to expand. And all the duets have character: Basse Dance is lively and energetic…Over the Hills and Far Away is romantic…
We are selling a sheet music arrangement of two movements from Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite: Basse Dance and Mattachins.This is one of my favourite string orchetra pieces.
The cello quartet arrangement is intermediate and effective. Click below to see the first pages of the scores: Basse Dance Score Page 1
At this difficult time, when the current pandemic is making life so tough for so many people, we would like to help our customers. So we have discounted the price of our sheet music and are offering five pieces of music for the price of three. And we are also offering free sheet music which can be downloaded right away.
What free sheet music is available?
The free sheet music includes our arrangement of Look for theSilver Lining, by Jerome Kern, our arrangement of Scarborough Fair for cello and piano and some technical exercises for cello.
In the coming weeks
We hope you will enjoy playing our arrangements. And we will be varying the selection of free sheet music in the weeks to come.
As there are so many excellent resources online at the moment I thought this would be a good time to add some free cello exercises to our website. So I am attaching the three short exercises below as pdfs which you can click and print. Although I wrote these for my pupils I have found them useful warm up exercises myself.
The first one is an exercise for finding thumb position. It’s all in bass clef: Relax and Fly
The second exercise is based on The Lark Ascending and is for practising shifting from 1st to 4th position: Flying Fourth
Finally, here is a bowing exercise which is mostly on open strings and so can be used for pupils from fairly early on: String crossing exercise
I hope you enjoy playing these. I’d be happy to have feedback.
During this uncertain period when so many people are spending long periods at home, why not use your time to improvise? Below are four well known string pieces, which could be used as an inspirational starting point:
The Lark Ascending
It’s a good idea to start with a sense of structure. The key here is G major and the time signature 6/8. The mood is gentle, romantic and flowing with a sustained tune and some interspersed faster notes to give the sense of fluttering wings. Try improvising an opening section which alternates long notes followed by some faster notes. Lead this into a long sustained tune. Then end by repeating your opening.
Autumn from The Four Seasons
This is F major and in 3/8. The dotted rhythms create much of the confident character. Try starting and ending with the same dotted rhythm section. In the middle create a slightly different feel with more bouncy rhythms. Keep it all in the major.
Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings
The flowing waltz is the character here. It’s 3/4 and in G major. See how many bars you can keep going by playing a happy, relaxed waltz in G.
Pirates of the Caribbean
A minor is the key here and the time is 12/8. The characteristics of the music are fast bows, strong rhythms, accents and a sense of brutality and suspense. Try some fast bows followed by a fast rhythmic tune with plenty of crescendos and some forte passages.
I have just formed a cello quartet with three of my pupils.The main aim is to enjoy playing chamber music and have fun.But quartets also help develop important music qualities.You need to know your part well enough to be able to play rhythmically throughout and listen to others. And while you have the pleasure of playing in an ensemble, every individual part can be heard and is important.
What is cello quartet repertoire like?
We have started with three pieces which I have arranged for cello quartet: the Poldark Theme, one of the tunes from Pirates of the Caribbean, and the theme from The Magnificent Seven.Everyone has a chance to play the tune and all four parts are around the same standard. In time I am hoping the group will grow to become a cello ensemble, which may be able to play some of the string orchestral repertoire.
Before long I will publish some of my cello quartet arrangements.Meanwhile if you’d like to play cello duets with two per part you can browse Cello Duets
Cello orchestras are relatively rare. But the best ones can sound surprisingly good, given that a cello orchestra is composed of only one instrument. Compare the two versions below of ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story. The first is played by the London Cello Orchestra and the one underneath is full orchestra. Both are good, but I prefer the cello orchestra – maybe because the tune is so well suited to strings.
The problem with one instrument for a full recital is the lack of variety of sound. But the cello has the advantage of having a huge range – making it suitable for the tune and accompaniment. Although sometimes including just one extra instrument ( like the drum in the extract below) can be very effective:
New Sheet Music
We hope to be adding some cello string quartet arrangements – which could be played by cello orchestras – to our online shop soon. Meanwhile, if you’d like to commission a work for cello orchestra visit our custom music for strings’ page here
I have just started arranging music for cello quartet. This is new for me.Previously I have only written music for two instruments: string duet or cello and piano.
How is quartet writing different?
As far as I can see so far it is essential that there is a clear tune in the quartet throughout. Unlike duos, where there are two soloistic parts alternately accompanying and playing the tune, in a quartet most of the parts are accompaniment at any time. It’s important that the melodic line in the accompaniment, as well as in the tune, makes sense. And, as you see in Puccini scores – you can sometimes double the line of the tune with another part and it’s effective. Having two or one people playing on their own in places varies the texture. Special effects – like tremolos, col legno, slides, pizz – are just as effective as in duets.And rhythm – as in all chamber music – is crucial. You can see many of these aspects of good quartet writing in the cello quartet arrangement below:
Repertoire so far
So far I am in the middle of arranging three short quartets for an ensemble that is starting at the beginning of February. If you are interested in having a bespoke cello or violin quartet, or indeed a standard quartet, arranged or composed for you, contact us here The Prague Cello Quartet
Some inspiring cello quartets
Below are some inspiring (though varied) examples of cello quartets.
I love the improvisation at the beginning of this… and the sunglasses…