In a musical piece by Arcangelo Corelli, Christmas Concerto, he wrote an instruction: Arcate, sostenuto e come stà. Because this is music related (possibly specific to string instruments like violins) and is 17th century Italian, I'm not keen on Google translate and the like.

Why does he want from the players?

  • I hope this is a better place for this question than Music: Practice & Theory, which from my experience will have a harder time dealing with this. You might want to add a music tag since most musical terms are in Italian. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 20:38
  • Oh, I was just about to suggest Music.SE as a better venue for such a question, since it seems to be about a quite technical indication about how to use the bow (arcate seem to allude to it) and how to play the piece.
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 20:40
  • @DaG It's a bit of both. I'm somewhat active there and I think that unless someone already played it they will have to translate anyway. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 20:41
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    I think you might need a professional musician specialized on music of that era to figure out precisely what it means. Sostenuto is fairly easy and I believe it to be standard music terminology and come sta means as it is, which I assume means that you have to keep the same tempo as the previous part. I have no idea about Arcate except that, as @DaG said, it is probably related to some particular techniques for stringed instruments (arco in Italian means bow).
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 20:45
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    But I think that "tasto solo" refers to the basso continuo line, not to the melody lines.
    – Charo
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


The expression is probably "Arcate sostenute e come sta" as you can find here. "Arcate, sostenuto" doesn't seem to make much sense.

"Arcate" is the plural of "arcata". Each way the performer passes the bow through the strings is called "una arcata".

If it's "arcate sostenute", "sostenute" would be an adjective referring to "arcate", which means "sustained". That is, the performers should pass the bow through the strings in a sustained legato way.

"E come sta" means "and as it is". It probably means that music score must be played exactly in the way the composer wrote it. It's important to note that it's baroque music: in this period it was a common practice for virtuoso performers to improvise ornamentations.

You can find a very interesting explanation of this concerto here.

  • Sostenuto indica il tempo, quindi è giusto sostenuto e non sostenute
    – Joe Taras
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 10:08
  • In a publicly available score I find “Arcate sostenute e come sta”
    – egreg
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 10:13
  • @egreg: Non ho trovato il termine nel link indicato
    – Joe Taras
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 10:16
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    @JoeTaras: "Sostenuto" is sometimes used to indicate a tempo, but not always.
    – Charo
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 10:27
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    «Corelli's use of the phrase ad libitum in Op. 6, No. 8, has been interpreted in various ways. For example, some contend it was used to inform the performers that improvised ornamentation is permitted in this movement, in contrast with the earlier Grave that is marked come sta (as it stands), indicating that this slow movement should not be decorated. Deas (1953) argues that the tied note linking the preceding Allegro to the pastorale is an indication that the latter is not optional. I conclude that Corelli marked the pastoral, a traditional Christmas Eve movement, as optional in the ...
    – Charo
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:30

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