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solo to tutti question

Posted: 07 Jun 2022, 19:25
by MichelRE
this is maybe an odd question.
I have a piece for string orchestra.
there are 5 string soloists (all the 1st desks).

I've set up the score so that the soloists appear, as in a concerto, at the top of the score, above the string section.

I had tried with the soloists immediately above their respective sections, but it ended up being more confusing to read than anything.

Anyway, there's a spot where the viola soloist ends their solo section, and after a bar of rest, are col tutti.

In the score, this is 4 measures to the end of a system.
In the viola part it's 2 measures to the end of the system.

In the part I can just write "col tutti" at the end of the system, and the soloist plays along with the single staff of the section that is now on the next system.

However, in the score there are now 2 measures empty of music, where the soloist will have joined the tutti section.

The question is, do I leave that "solo" staff blank for those measures?
Or do I write in the notes of the tutti viola section?

Re: solo to tutti question

Posted: 07 Jun 2022, 20:45
by David Ward
I don't know whether or not there is a rule as such, but I would do what I remember seeing in various scores from the past, which is to write in the notes of the tutti.

Re: solo to tutti question

Posted: 08 Jun 2022, 12:27
by John Ruggero
Do you mean that the solo staves are omitted in the score whenever the soloists are playing with the section? And there are no individual solo parts? I wouldn't do that unless the soloists only play occasionally, which doesn't seem to be the case because you have all together at the top of the score as in a concerto grosso.

So if it's a concerto grosso there would be a score, section string parts and individual solo parts. The staves for the soloists would appear in every system in the score and the individual solo parts would contain all the music played by the soloists irrespective of whether it is solo or tutti (which you would indicate in the part and score with the terms Solo and Tutti). And therefore there would be no empty measures in the solo staves in the score. And the separate section string parts would contain only the music played by the section string players.

If the soloists only play occasionally, then I wouldn't assemble them at the top of the score but distribute them above the section string parts as the occasions arise. Then follow David Ward's suggestion to avoid blank measures in the score, or work out the layout so that the changes occur at the end of the lines if that is possible. The solo parts would be included in the section parts as a separate staves when they split off as soloists. Again it might be best to work out the layout so that when they join the section it is at the beginning of a line.

Re: solo to tutti question

Posted: 08 Jun 2022, 15:34
by MichelRE
no, the situation is not a concerto grosso. the solos are occasional.
having them immediately above their section staves, however, makes the score very unclear, as they end up sharing the group bracket for the whole string orchestra and shared barlines with the entire group. This means the conductor has to rely on reading the words "solo" to know when there is a soloist playing.
The solo parts are each included with the sectional parts (so the 1st violin soloist is an occasional additional staff in the 1st violin part, the 2nd violin soloist is an occasional additional staff with 2nd violin part, etc... and also, when a solo is lengthy and the section is not playing, there are moments where in the part ONLY the solo staff is included, but with the indication that the staff is a soloist).
This way of notating it is very clear in the parts, and the single separate staff at the top (concerto-like) in the score makes it very clear to the conductor who is playing (the solo staves are also marked in the staff name as "solo").

I was finally able to adjust the number of measures in both score and part to have the same number of empty measures at the end of a system, after much fiddling and adjusting. So in this particular case, there was a fix - tedious and involving lots of pushing and pullling of measures - but a fix no less.

The reason I've insisted on writing the solo parts the way I did (like a concerto) is that the orchestra will get around 30 minutes total of rehearsal time before the concert, for a 10 minute work. I've had experience with this particular orchestra and understand their work-flow during rehearsals. This layout should save time, as well as let the conductor understand the importance of each solo section (which are rhythmically free and require very specific attention for the orchestral interjections during those solos).

Re: solo to tutti question

Posted: 08 Jun 2022, 22:02
by John Ruggero
It sounds like a unique situation and that you have handled it appropriately. I am glad the layout could be adjusted.