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Hymns arranged for four cellos

Article 25.02.2012 23:50

A discussion about playing directly out of a hymnal vs music specifically arranged for cello quartet.

I've been making arrangements of classic hymns for four cellos.


Hymns are already in four parts and can be read by many cellists, so why create this book?  Here are some of the reasons:

  • Hymnals don’t sit well on music stands, and xeroxed hymnal pages usually aren’t very nice to read from.
  • Who wants to play in Ab major, when it’s so much nicer to play in G?
  • In vocal music, slurs are only used for melismas (singing one syllable with more than one note).  This sounds stiff and clumsy on instruments.  I’ve added slurs to improve bowing and musicality.
  • Also in vocal music, the parts all must conform to the lyrics.  By eliminating lyrics you can increase the freedom in the supporting parts.
  • Vocal parts aren’t designed so that cadences occur on a downbow!
  • Cellists don’t like reading below the staff in treble clef (ie the alto part).
  • Hymns often have unisons, with two parts playing the same note at cadences.
  • The bass part rarely goes below F, missing out on those great low cello C string sounds.

These hymns have been arranged with cellos in mind.  They fit nicely on the bow.  The accompanying parts have more rhythmic independence.  Some pieces have introductions, some have pizz sections, some have arpeggiated accompaniments.  Hope you like it!  Let me know what you think.

Click here to   Hear A Mighty Fortress is Our God . Hear in the Sweet By and By Hear The Holly and they Ivy   See Score Sample PDF   See Cello 1 Sample PDF   See Cello 3 Sample PDF   See Cello 4 Sample PDF   Purchase PDF downloads of individual pieces


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