Textures for two and three parts in string quartets are very common but underused by students. You can create contrast more easily as well as generally providing relief from relentless four-part textures. On this page are some examples.
Haydn String Quartet in D minor Op. 42 (first movement)
- Thirds in violins followed by thirds in viola and cello gives nice contrast in 63-65
- The rest is basically a three-part texture with occasional reinforcement of the bass line by the cello
Mozart String Quartet K458 (first movement)
Note: reducing to a three-part texture allows Mozart to create a contrasting colour when the same material is repeated up an octaves and on violins and viola rather than violin, viola and cello
Beethoven String Quartet Op. 18 No. 1 (first movement)
Note: a really dramatic contrast here between the FF octave unison at the beginning and the two-part textures that follow.
Haydn String Quartet Op. 17 No. 6 (first movement)
- in the first line the parallel tenths in the violins are only occasionally reinforced into a four-part texture by the viola and cello
- the second line is basically a two-part texture but with colour added by the alternation of the lower line between violin 2 and viola