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Scordatura

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Doug Gibson, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. This is an old piece of mine. I changed the tuning of the string quintet.

    The Cello and Viola are C-G-C-G, and Violins are G-C-G-C

    Bass - E - A- C - G

    It took some begging, but once the string players played it, they liked it.

    For notation, you have to treat each string like a transposing instrument. So the players need to see what is played.
    That means - for example - if I have a G that I want played as open A string, I have to write A. It's tricky... and takes a lot of work. But I was very happy with the results at the time.

     
  2. I love it.
     
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  3. Nice! Some serious bass writing in there!

    I haven't delved into string writing that deeply yet, so what's exactly the motivation here?

    How do the string players react to this? They play the written A they normally would, except it sounds a G. Do they transpose it in their heads? Do they just completely rely on sight reading and play whatever's written since they can't hear it in their head if it's transposed like that? I'm not an excellent instrumentalist, and especially not a hawk-eyed sight reader - am I really underestimating great string players?
     
  4. #4 Bradley Boone, Apr 27, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
    Strings don't love it when you tune higher (stresses the instrument), but lower they can tolerate. There are limited cases for using this in ensemble settings, but I've seen it in solo and chamber pieces.
    No, they put their hand/finger in the position of the written pitch, and the transposed pitch is sounded. I don't play a string, but I've had similar stuff in brass (modern music only, not a traditional technique) where they do stuff with extended valve lengths. It is a little disconcerting being trained to hear certain intervals on the page, but a different tone is coming out of your instrument. Guitarists do this with regularity, so I know familiarity can overcome this (also, Guitarists never learn to read written music...so maybe it never was a problem for them)

    Here's an example from one of my favorite works (scordatura on top, standard tuning on the bottom). Note the reference pitches and keysignature (Breitkopf und Härtel edition)
    bach5-1.PNG

    And here's a good one in the upper register from the Allemande movement. It really leads to some unconventional looking lines.
    bach5-2.PNG
     
    Aaron Venture likes this.
  5. Ahh..... what about my coffee cup ? !!

    Thanks BTW !
     
    Sylvain Provenzano likes this.
  6. I would have liked to make an oriental cup for this. :)
     
  7. Still needs your quote though. :)
     

  8. I forgot to reply to this. Sorry about that

    Here is a scan of the cello part for the opening.

    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 3.07.43 PM.png
     
    Bradley Boone likes this.

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