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Joanna Borrett

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

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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.

Commissioning Music for a Wedding

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Have you ever thought about commissioning music for a wedding or special occasion? If so, you may have wondered about the cost, and  about whether you’d end up loving the music you commission.  Both of those aspects can be resolved to a large extent by discussion. And there are good reasons for at least pursuing the idea further.

Is commissioning music for a wedding a new idea?

The idea of commissioning music for a special occasion has a long, romantic provenance. Some of the greatest music ever written was composed for a special occasion. Why? Well music lasts forever. It does not age and can be constantly brought to life in vibrant performances and recordings.
commissioning music for a wedding

How does the process work?

Commissioning music starts by talking to us. We need to know the occasion the music is for and the duration of the piece. It’s also worth thinking about the the overall mood you would like the music to be and its technical standard.

What will the music sound like?

The recordings on our website give a good idea of how we write for strings. Many of our sheet music arrangements have introductions or middle sections  we have written ourselves. And we also sell our own original compositions.

We can create new arrangements too

As well as composing music we can create an arrangement of a piece you love – as long as it is out of copyright.

How long does it take?

It’ s impossible to predict exactly how long the process takes as every commission is different. The more notice you give us the better. As a general rule, new arrangements take less time than new compositions. And music you commission can be permanently dedicated to whoever you wish.

commissioning music for a wedding

Wedding Collections for Violin and Cello Duet Sheet Music

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We have two wedding collections for violin and cello duet sheet music. They both include ten pieces of music – each complete with individual parts and score. The standard of music in both albums is intermediate and advanced.

About our wedding collections for violin and cello duet sheet music

When selecting our two wedding collections we have focused on some of the best known wedding music. Much of this  is ideal for the wedding ceremony itself. But we have also included pieces which would work well for the reception.Good value for money and the popularity of the music have been key considerations. And as always we have used our imagination to ensure our arrangements are effective and characterful.

Wedding Collection 1  for violin and cello duet

The pieces in this collection are the  most popular and famous wedding pieces. They are: Bridal Chorus, Pachelbel’s Canon, Air on a G String, Flower Duet, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,Te Deum, Prince of Denmark’s March, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Brahms Hungarian Dance no 1. Most of these would work well as guests arrive, for the bridal ceremony and for the reception.

Wedding Collection 2 for violin and cello duet

The pieces in Collection 2 are especially suitable to be played as guests arrive or at receptions.They are Exsultate Jubilate, Chiome D’Oro, Fairest Isle, Gloria, Boccherini’s Minuet, Coppelia Waltz, Tambourin, Londonderry Air, Jeanie and Lark in the Clear Air. The last three beautiful folk tunes would also be a lovely choice for the signing.

How much playing time is in each album?

Each album contains at least half an hour of playing time in total. If you buy both albums you have a complete repertoire of wedding music for violin and cello duet which can be downloaded as many times as you want for less than £90.

wedding collection


Not just for weddings

Regardless of whether you are playing for weddings, this is wonderful music, ideal for anyone who wants to explore the violin and cello duet repertoire – and excellent value.

Intermediate and Advanced Violin and Cello Duets

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Our website specialises in our own original intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets and cello duets. We believe there is a gap in the market in this area of sheet music sales. Promoting string duets – by selling our own sheet music, and by performing and recording – is our aim.

Why intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets?

The music we sell is intermediate or advanced level. We want to maximise the different types of sound string instruments can make and this needs a certain level of ability. However, everything is written to be string instrument friendly. And there are some easier cello duets  in our collection.
easier cello duets

Our range of intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets

We sell over 60 violin and cello duets and cello duets. They are divided into seven categories. These are baroque violin and cello duets, classical and romantic violin and cello duets, folk violin and cello duets, broadway violin and cello duets, new compositions, cello duets, and easier cello duets.

Our violin and cello duet albums

In addition we sell four violin and cello duet sheet music albums. These are Six Great Romantic Violin and Cello Duets, Six Great Baroque Tunes, Six Great Broadway Violin and Cello Duets, Six Great Folk Tunes for Violin and Cello Duet. We also sell wedding collections for violin and cello duet: Wedding Collection 1 and Wedding Collection 2. All our albums are especially good value for money.
wedding album1

Our style

We believe arrangements need to be imaginative to be effective. Character is our starting point. Every piece of sheet music we sell has been created and performed by us, so we know it works. And our website contains many of our recordings so you can preview the music before you buy.
intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets

Special effects

Our arrangements and compositions quite often use effects like tremolo bowing, ricochet, col legno and natural harmonics to bring the music to life. These techniques are not hard and are very good at enhancing the mood of the music.

New music

In addition to arranging music we have also composed some violin and cello duets and cello duets ourselves, which you can find in our New Compositions category.  These are also intermediate to advanced in standard.