Multiple trill

The multiple trills are double and triple trills that involve two or three auxiliary notes. Despite of its fixed notation (of auxiliary trill notes located in parenthesis), the multiple trill notes must be executed randomly. It means that “trilling” occurs once with note “X” and every next time with note “either X or Y” – but without any pattern.

Multiple trill is called “double” if the main tone has two trill tones, and it is called “triple” if the main tone has three trill tones.


Double trill in PSALM XIII for string quartet, Violin II.



Example of a triple trill Ascetic Discourse, Violin I.


The multiple trills can be used on any instrument which can quickly alternate trills. This technique is the most common for woodwinds, but never seen on brass instruments. It is unknown if these trills are used before on the bowed string instruments or keyboards. Zivkovic has introduced the multiple trills for the first time in the strings section of On the Guarding of the Heart from 2011.

Combination alternatives

On the bowed string instruments it is possible to use the multiple trills with the following combinations:

  • non synchronised bow tremolo.
  • glissando that involves the same fingering of the main note (base note) and the auxiliary notes (trill notes).
  • combination of the bow tremolo and glissando

Usage example: Violin I from On the Guarding of the Heart.

M.245 starts with a triple trill, played legato (including ‘sul ponticello estremo’ technique and a ‘sussurro’ (half-pressure of the left hand), following M.249 played detaché and developing in to staccatissimo (probably extreme spiccato) at M.251.

The word stesso, meaning same, indicates that the auxiliary trill notes remain the same in the interval relation to the (main) base-note. In this example the base-note is played with finger 1, and triple-trill notes with fingers 2 3 4 – as major second, minor third and perfect fourth from the base-note. The trill notes keep the same interval distance from the base-note, they follow proportionally the base-note even when the base-note changes.

The full meaning of stesso would be lo stesso trillo, or in old-Italian l’istesso trillo.


According to Djuro Zivkovic, the main purpose of his multiple-trill technique (as well z-bisbigliando) is ability to create:

easy to write, easy to notate, easy to play extreme dense and complex music texture; which sounds like improvisation but always sounds the same when executed.

Violinist by himself, Zivkovic’s intention is to achieve the perfect balance in music expression and imagination with notation.

Music imagination must go always up, never being limited by notation. On the other hand, notation must go down, being simplified. Imagination up, notation down: at the point when they meet they create the perfect concord of musical diamond.

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