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Joanna Borrett

What is Summer Music?

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What is summer music? Most people would probably think it’s music that’s calm, rural and relaxing. Delius’s Summer Evening ( below) is exactly that:

But for Vivaldi summer evoked different feelings. His ‘Summer’ in The Four Seasons is an early example of programmatic music. Vivaldi wrote his own sonnets in the score to explain what the music is describing. The first movement’s sonnet reads: ” Langour in the heat” . This is followed by:  ” …beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat men and flocks are sweltering  and the cuckoo’s voice can be heard.”  

For Gershwin the season was even more complex. His aria Summertime  opens his opera Porgy and Bess which is set in a black tenement in South Carolina in the 1930s. The  themes of the opera are romance struggling against poverty, drug taking and violence. Our violin and cello duet version is below:

…and you can buy our violin and cello duet sheet music arrangement here

Cello and Piano Sheet Music

By commissioning string music for an occassion, sheet music sales, Uncategorized No Comments

This autumn we will be adding some cello and piano sheet music to our online shop. Some of the sheet music is a piano and cello reworking  of already existing pieces. These are Scarborough Fair, Christmas Variations and Morning Prelude. There will also be three new cello and piano sheet music compositions.

New Commissions

For more information email us at  And remember, you can commission us to arrange or compose a piece for you for any combination of strings.
cello and piano sheet music


How TV Themes Work

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This blog explores how tv themes work. Have you noticed how the best tv themes immediately take you into the world of the programme with no words needed? Ever wondered how they do that?  Here’s a very rough outline:
First – Hawaii 5 0.  The lively mood, off beat rhythms, energy, contemporary pop style, use of drums and minor key instantly evoke action, seriousness and America.

Compare this with Inspector Morse – a very different, definitely non American, detective:

This tune expresses darkness and sadness – ideally suited to the older, cultured and world weary  Inspector Morse!  The minor key, repeated rhythms and repeated descending bass line – in chaconne style – create a sense of inevitability. Vitali’s Chaconne  ( below)  with its famous repeated descending bass line, is in the same world  (but was written  300 years earlier.)

Changing the mood completely, the Pride and Prejudice theme projects lightness and happiness with its major key, scale patterns  and lively speed. The composer effectively captured the late classical /early romantic style of Jane Austen’s era .

Compare this with the Haydn Piano Concerto and John Field Nocturne  below. Both composers were contemporaries of Jane Austen.

Do we sell similar sheet music?

We don’t sell anything exactly like the above themes.  But all music creates its  effects in similar ways. The nearest we have to Hawaii 5 0 is Over the Hills and Far Away or Lilliburlero. Both are lively and energetic, but they don’t have the American feel and are not in a minor key. The closest we have to the Inspector Morse theme is probably Una Furtiva Lagrima or Scarborough Fair.There’s no repeated descending bass, but both are sad, beautiful minor tunes.For the classical style of Pride and Prejudice choose Exsultate Jubilate and Boccherini’s Minuet and Trio.

Finally, the Listen With Mother radio theme – from long, long,long  ago –  was simply Faure’s Berceuse – a  lullaby duet that was perfect for the programme.

Film Music Favourites

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What are your film music favourites? In this blog I am going to share some of my favourite film themes. I’m also going to explain how some film themes have influenced our sheet music arrangements.

Film Music Favourites

This is the first fab film theme that  springs into my mind, and I love its energy and excitement. If fact, I like this theme so much that I included a quote from the main tune in our arrangement of Long Ago and Far Away ( even though this song is entirely different in mood)

Next, who could fail to be impressed by use of Bach’s Air on a G String in the Hamlet Cigar adverts ? This particular arrangementy is more jazzy than our own, but certainly gets some of the sense of calm across!

The film extract below is by far my favourite  version of La Cumparsita – and some of the accordion playing influenced our arrangement.

The theme from Dances with Wolves – with its sense of openness  achieved by using the first and fifth degrees of the scale – had some  influence on Morning Prelude

While Gabriel’s Oboe from the  film The Mission is an excellent example of a beautiful melody:

Intermediate level violin and cello duets

By violin and cello duet sheet music No Comments

I recently had an email from a potential customer asking about intermediate level violin and cello duets. She wanted to know which of our sheet music was the most straightforward and easy to play. She was also looking for duets where the cello had the tune quite a lot of the time.

The easiest repertoire on our site

I had a chat to Roger about this and we agreed that the easiest sheet music duets on our site are:
My Love is Like a Red, Red, Rose
Londonderry Air
Over the Hills and Far Away
All of these are in D major, are rhythmically clear, and share the tunes equally between the instruments.Other pieces that we sell in the easier range include:
La Cumparsita    and   Bridal Chorus

The violin has the tune most of the time in these two. So, if you are looking for a duet which focuses on cello, Morning Prelude starts and ends with a cello solo in natural harmonics. It is always possible to adapt arrangements and leave things out. In fact, almost every time we play a piece we make some change to make the arrangement more effective. It’s an ongoing process.

Contact Us

Please feel free to email or phone us if you have any questions about the level of our arrangements. There are many recordings and videos on our site which we hope will help you assess the standard of the music.


Inspiring Performances

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In this blog I wanted to share some videos of inspiring performances in different genres. What they have in common is a passionate and fearless sense of interpretation. The first is by Camille O’Sullivan:

The next is  Robert Stephens’ acting, especially notably this most famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:


And finally, something classical: Hvorostovsky’s performance of  Bizet’s Toreador Song:

Duet versions of Toreador Song are on sale here: Violin and Cello Duet   Cello Duets

Improvisation in Concerts

By fedora strings performance, relaxing string music No Comments

Although improvisation in concerts was common in baroque times, it’s more rare today. But – excitingly – Roger and I have three engagements at the beginning of April in London which include some live improvisation.

The reality of improvisation, of course, is that some kind of structure  has been worked out in advance  – even if it’s only a basic timing, key and mood. So, in our concerts we will be improvising for around three minutes and we have worked out a mood and a rough structure. One of us will hold a single note  (D) while the other one improvises calm music. At the end of  each group of phrases the roles will reverse.

More about the concerts

The concerts we are playing in are for a specialist yoga teacher training course called Forrest Yoga. The founders of Forrest Yoga believe in the transformative power of live music. Forrest Yoga has taken off in a big way and our dates in London are part of an international tour.The pieces we are playing will  alternate from calm  to energising. The calm music includes, The Lark in the Clear Air, Morning Prelude, Red, Red Rose. Livelier music encompasses  Scarborough Fair, Over the Hills and  Lilliburlero.

improvisation in concertsHow to improvise

Improvising on a string instrument is easier than you think. Essentially you need to choose a key, a mood, and a simple structure. For example, if you were playing a duet, you could decide you wanted lively invigorating music. You could choose to put the piece in D major, one player could play a D every two beats, and the other could improvise – mainly in arpeggio and scale patterns. If you wanted to elaborate you could have a middle section in B minor, which was slower and more gentle, and then repeat the opening section. Simlarly, to create a dance or waltz feel, chose a key, three beats in a bar, and short, simple phrases. As with everything, the more you practise, the easier it gets.

cello duets

Creative Influences

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What are your creative influences? Are you inspired by paintings, books, architecture, poetry, theatre or dance?
For me the answer is all of the above. And this week I’ve also been watching skating:

It’s hard to imagine a more aligned interpretation of the music than the choreography here. The commitment of the skating has an intensity you can also see in the best classical music performers:

Moving away from live performance I often find paintings or architecture inspiring.
creative influencesI love the intensity of this famous painting by George Stubbs, which you can see at The National Gallery. And most people would thrill at the Harringworth Viaduct  ( below):
creative influences

What are your creative influences?

String Orchestra Sheet Music

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Many of the pieces in our string duet repertoire can easily be arranged for string orchestra sheet music. In fact we already have string orchestral versions of Chiome D’Oro, Dance to Your Daddy and Over the Hills.

How can I buy your string orchestra sheet music?

You can commission us to arrange one or more of the pieces of music on our online shop for string orchestra. Please email us direct about this, or fill in the form on our commissioning music page.

Why commission more music?

The string orchestral repertoire is wonderful – but it’s not large. Again and again the same pieces are played in concerts. Of course there’s nothing actually wrong with this. But there is so much more that could be played!
string orchestra sheet music

What standard is the music?

Many of our string orchestral arrangements are not  technically demanding  and are alot of fun to play. Our string orchestra arrangements of Chiome D’Oro, Dance to Your Daddy and Over the Hills have all been perfomed by intermediate level students in concerts without a conductor, and are exciting and effective.

string orchestra sheet music


Intermediate and Advanced Cello Duet Sheet Music

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We sell a wide range of intermediate and advanced cello duet sheet music at our online shop. The cello’s capacity to sustain a bass line and sing the tune makes it the ideal duet instrument. But there are surprisingly few cello duets of intermediate and advanced standard. So we think there is a gap in the market – and one which we aim to fill!
cello duets

Our range of intermediate and advanced cello duet sheet music

The music we sell falls into two categories: arrangements and new compositions. But some of our arrangements – such as Lilliburlero and Scarborough Fair – have introductions and middle sections that are completely new music. I think this helps re-create the tune in a fresh way and highlight the overall mood.

cello duetsRepertoire choice

The style of our arrangements includes baroque, classical, romantic, broadway and folk. And over the next few weeks we will be adding more cello duets to our online shop.

cello duetsOther shops selling intermediate and advanced cello duet sheet music

SJ Music also has an imaginative range of intermediate and advanced cello duets as well as cello trio, quartet and sextet sheet music.