This project addresses two primary performance issues that arise in violin-viola duets: articulation and timbre. These two factors contribute significantly to the overall sound of an ensemble and play a key role in ensuring the sound produced is cohesive and unified where musically appropriate. Despite being from the same instrument family, the violin and viola have fundamental differences in their structure which create challenges pertaining to sound production, clarity of articulation and timbral quality. This research explores the challenges associated with performing violin-viola duets and build upon the currently limited literature surrounding this topic.

The project has been accomplished through a practice-led approach and employing an action research methodology. Three major works for the instrumentation were chosen as case studies: Mozart's Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major K. 423, Bruch's Double Concerto for Violin and Viola Op.88, and Martinu's Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola H. 313. Musical examples from these works were selected and rehearsed, with a variety of technical approaches to each one being investigated. These approaches came from the analysis of professional recordings of each passage, input from three specialist string tutors in tutorials, and the performers' own experience. Rehearsals focussed on the technical factors that impacted ensemble sound and cohesion, with the final decisions for performance reflecting the most successful approach given the performers' musical goals.

This project aims to provide violinists and violists with a greater understanding of the challenges that arise in this instrumentation. In addition, it hopes to offer technical recommendations to assist with approaching duet repertoire and overcoming these common issues.

About Research Seminar Series

Research seminars are presented by current staff, higher degree research students and visiting academics. 

The seminar series showcases our Higher Degree by Research candidates’ work, as well as providing valuable professional development opportunities for those interested in Higher Degree by Research. Visiting scholars are regularly invited to address staff and students, and the seminars are open to the public. Please register by following the link in the session below that you wish to attend.