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What does idiomatic writing mean in musical terms?

im doing a research assignment on ludwig van beethoven and need to talk about his techniques.

thanks ! :)

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    idiomatic writing for an instrument or for a group of instruments means that the composer is well acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of the instrument and uses that knowledge in his writing. As an example, Carleen Hutchins designed a set of violin-family instruments in an acoustic experiment. The viola-analog had sides that were much deeper than the orchestral viola. As part of her tests, she had side-by-side comparisons between her tenor violin and a viola playing Mozart's Bb viola sonata: the tenor violin, for all it's design improvements over the viola, sounded much worse. The viola had a very pronounced resonance around Bb, and Mozart had written to this strength. The tenor violin lacked this characteristic peak, and the viola sonata, played on the tenor violin, just lacked 'something'.

    Some of the things that lend to idiomatic writing:

    some instruments have extended ranges, where notes that are not normally played lie. When writing idiomatically, it is unusual to use the extended range.

    likewise, there are some melodic movements (for instance, fifths on violin family instruments) which are built into the way the instrument is laid out.

    And then there are articulations which are possible on some instruments and not on others.

    When writing idiomatically for groups of instruments, the composer has to take into consideration how the instruments blend and contrast, as well as how they work and sound by themselves.

  • velo
    Lv 4
    5 years ago


  • Dave U
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I've always felt that Beethoven, in particular amongst the great composers, wrote idiomatically for nearly all instruments. He seemed to have the knack of writing music which runs nicely under the hands and creates just the right effect whether it be for piano, strings, or simply a fruity little flute or bassoon solo in one of the orchestral works. Some composers on the other hand wrote idiomatically for, say stringed instruments, but when you sit down to play their piano music, it becomes obvious that they were not a proficient pianist themselves. For example, the writing may have awkward leaps and tricky fingerings, or be bass heavy making it difficult to put across without making allowances.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

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    What does idiomatic writing mean in musical terms?

    im doing a research assignment on ludwig van beethoven and need to talk about his techniques.

    thanks ! :)

    Source(s): idiomatic writing musical terms:
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  • 1 decade ago

    music v well suited to that particular instrument or set of instruments (i.e. string quartet).

    "idiomatic string writing" (well written for strings)

    "idiomatic piano arpeggios" (typical patterns found in piano writing)

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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