Hello fellow musicians,
So far I’ve loved the courses provided by Jon. I’m about a quarter through his Sonata Form course. Jon writes for piano, however being a string player I was wondering how I could begin to learn how to write for string quartet. All suggestions welcome!
When I started writing for strings, I looked at the two string quartets of Alexander Borodin (I’ll include links to them). These quartets showed me how use simple accompaniments for melodies in string music. Other than that, look and listen to string lots of music for strings, and just write music as often as you can. Hopefully, as a string player, you should have an easier time writing for strings. Being a violinist and violist has certainly helped me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YAzUC6LzNk&t=1462s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-5FuKRbUZs&t=1798s
This biggest difference is that you are thinking about four players instead of one. There are obviously given constraints like range, double/triple/quadruple stops, bowing techniques, etc., but you need to focus your thinking linearly.
I often write the same way in the early periods of the composition – usually very shorthand style with chords and melody. But from there, I will think about how each player fits in.
Voice leading is critical, as each line needs to make melodic sense. The guidelines for writing melodies in Composition 101 apply to every part, although sometimes they may not all be very interesting.
Don’t over think bowing. If in doubt, leave it to the players. Just don’t put in very long slurs (it’s considered one bow).
My favorite string quartet is Ravel’s. It has a ton of amazing techniques you can use in your own writing.
Most important, don’t start by reinventing the wheel. Just like the 201 course, model a string quartet bar by bar, and copy out the original – you’ll learn a ton.
P.S. I was on vacation for the last few weeks, so sorry about the delay in posting this.