Talk:Scordatura

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That giant picture in the middle of the article is ridiculous. Bottesini 17:31, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Biber example:

from Biber's Mysterien

Could somebody explain:

  • For which instrument this is intended (probably violin, but best to mention that)?;
  • Which strings of that instrument have to be tuned differently (up, or down?)?
  • Is there any reason known why Biber used scordatura (in this example; and in general?)?

I would be much obliged if such clarifications are inserted in the article!

--Francis Schonken 8 July 2005 12:57 (UTC)

Violin, depends (for example see article), and mainly programmatic reasons. All this before I run to work. Hyacinth 8 July 2005 20:32 (UTC)
tx! --Francis Schonken 8 July 2005 22:10 (UTC)
The notes shown in the example are the tunings of the four strings of the violin used in different movements. The standard tuning is shown in the first example. I heard a performance of several movements of the Biber recently and it was very interesting (and very good music). The different tunings result in different notes being on open strings (which have a more resonant sound) and so many chords sound quite different, at least to an experienced musician.—Wahoofive (talk) 18:57, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

Scordatura in Biber[edit]

I was wondering if we should reference Biber in the "examples of scordatura" section? as several folks have pointed out here, Biber uses scordatura in the first of his Rosary Sonatas (and possibly in other ones?). I am, for the record, also opposed to that enormous and silly picture being in the article--it only has very tangential relevance to scordatura.

anyway, in that particular Biber piece, the E is tuned town to a D, i believe.

Interestingly, this was mentioned this week in WGBH's classical music feature...the violinist here (Christina Day Martinson) mentions this in her interview.

http://wgbh.org/classical/

it's not a big deal, but i think it would be meaningful to include the Biber reference...are there any objections?

Lesotho 17:18, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Rock section[edit]

Am I the only one to question that this section pays far to much attention to one particular rock band? Additionally it is not neutral. I'd delete and rewrite the whole section without mentioning any particular artist. RichardJ Christie 01:41, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

The first 4 sentences of the Sonic Youth paragraph could benefit from the removal of irrelevant and opinionated statements. However, artists' names are useful as examples (as in the non-rock sections of the page - though citations are needed). --Wiki Pig5 (talk) 06:32, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
I just trimmed it. Time for the "undue weight" tag to disappear yet? __Just plain Bill (talk) 15:18, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
Would it make sense to limit mentions of artists to ones that have articles on wikipedia, ie, blue links? I'm going to experiment. Huw Powell (talk) 23:38, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
I know she's not a rock artist (actually that section should be called "guitar" or some such, since that's what it's about), but no mention of Joni Mitchell? She is well-known for using alternate tunings... Huw Powell (talk) 23:44, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
I think that limiting to blue links is the minimum standard. Thanks for the great edits! Best, -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 05:23, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
You're welcome, and I appreciate the pat on the back! I didn't remove any bands since they were all blue (although it took a little clicking to figure out which ones to append (band) to), I figure we've got the room here. Huw Powell (talk) 17:38, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Do rock guitarists ever say in a rehearsal 'Hey, fellows! Give me a second to take the scordatura I need for this song.' I doubt it very much. Scordatura is a term used pretty exclusively for classical violin music. Even Baroque lute players, who use a variety of different tunings in the 17th c. use 'accords avalees' or something similar. I think that taking this section out of this article and having a 'see also - guitar tunings' link would be a good idea. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Je9671111 (talkcontribs) 22:13, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Scordatura: Folk Section -- Possible typo?[edit]

From the Folk section:

While the standard tuning for open strings of the violin is GDAE—with the G being the tuning of the lowest-pitched string and the E being the tuning for the highest-pitched string—fiddlers playing tunes in the key of D major sometimes employ a tuning of ADAE. In this tuning the open G string is raised to the A directly above it.

(Underlining added)

I'm not really a musician, so I'm just guessing here, and would appreciate if someone knowledgeable would review this and supply the correct answer, one way or the other, i.e., If I'm right and that's "worng", or: If I'm wrong, here's why.

Thanks.

Isn't A adjacent to G directly below G?

Wouldn't raising G to the A above it involve tightening the string through nearly all of an octave, putting a huge strain on the string and possibly the entire instrument? And also be redundant with the third string?

My guess is that the last sentence in the above-cited passage should read:

In this tuning the open G string is lowered to the A directly below it.

--Rick Drake 21:52, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

No, the A adjacent to G is above it. A scale of C, from lowest to highest, goes CDEFGABC. Tuning the G string to an A takes it up one tone, to the A an octave below the existing A string. TSP 22:08, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


They teach us something called the alphabet where I come from--Veggieburgerfish (talk) 21:25, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Stravinksy's Firebird[edit]

I have removed "Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird is a rare, perhaps unique, piece which calls for the entire violin section to retune a string, in order to play some natural harmonics. Similarly," from the text as unsourced, given that I have played the firebird suite orchestrally and do not recall retuning, at least in the firsts, and I would have noticed the seconds retuning. If anyone finds a source and it was purely the edition we were playing feel free to add it back in.--Gilderien Chat|List of good deeds 12:09, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

It's the first entry of the 1sts, with the instruction(s): "Mi muta in Re" (1911) and "glissez sur la I. corde accordée en Ré" (1919); both versions are online at IMSLP. Del Mar (Anatomy of the Orchestra) comments: "the dazzling effect is somewhat spoiled in the 1919 version through one of the myriad of misprints...8va..produces an impossibility and should sound two octaves higher. As a result many players ignore the instruction and play on the D string like the 2nd violins." Sparafucil (talk) 23:10, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, ok thank you very much - I was indeed playing the 1919 version. I have restored the text.--Gilderien Chat|Contributions 23:22, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Didn't notice you beat me to it! Sparafucil (talk) 00:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Is "scordatura" different from alternative tuning?[edit]

I don't quite understand Galassi's edit summary: "alternative tunings for guitars are not scordatura, as in these the (mis)notation in not tied to fingering", but I am intrigued. If the idea is to start a separate article (along with Slack tuning and Cross tuning) for Cordes avalées, not only is a pointer desirable but the definition of scordatura in the lead needs narrowing. I'm not yet convinced that's possible. NG has "A term applied largely to lutes, guitars, viols and the violin family to designate a tuning other than the normal, established one." with a smaller "Cordes avalées" article referring to a fuller discussion in the lute and guitar section of "scordatura", which confusingly mentions 'true scordatura'.The 2nd revised Harvard Dictionary of Music cites Dalza's Intablatura de lauto IV (1508) as an early use of the term "scordatura". Sparafucil (talk) 00:05, 6 August 2013 (UTC) Oh, I wonder instead if the problem might be with the present lead's second sentence, which implies a distinction between scordatura notation and altered tuning? Sparafucil (talk) 00:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Scordatura specifically refers to deliberate mistuning, in which a note is sounded NOT where it is notated. Therefore all early stings/viols/lutes do have scordature. But alternative tunings for modern guitars is a completely different matter, precisely because their notation reflects the (mis)tunings exactly.--Galassi (talk) 00:30, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
That's a problematic definition, which excludes the Firebird example. BWV 1011 clears the hurdle because Anna Magdalena's copy notates the top string a tone higher, but is it no longer a scordatura work if JSB's autograph surfaces notated as sounding? A great burden is going to be finding a dictionary that supports this narrow interpretation. Sparafucil (talk) 23:12, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
It is the standard definition and the only one I've ever seen or used. Grove doesn't go into great detail about the distinction other than in the "Violin and Viola" section which states "the notation of which is generally such that the player reads and fingers it as if the violin were in the normal tuning". I am currently on the road and do not have access to any of my music books to see how the term is generally used. Of course logic dictates that we need to be able to distinguish between an alternate tuning where the performer plays the pitch as notated and a situation where the pitch that sounds is different than what is notated (how I've always used scordatura as a composer). I know that logic and my anecdotal evidence counts for almost nothing with regard to how this article should be written. Also, we already have an article on Guitar tunings which deals with alternate tunings for the guitar which further allows us to make the useful distinction between the two methods of notating alternate tunings. In the meantime I've added a link to that article and removed the promotional text connected to the external link about alternate tunings for the guitar. Also, what makes that external link a reliable source? I've not heard of that person nor does he a Wikipedia article. SQGibbon (talk) 07:47, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Re: "Scordatura specifically refers to deliberate mistuning, in which a note is sounded NOT where it is notated.".

This definition is not supported by any source I can find. As noted above, Grove defines scordatura as "a term applied largely to lutes, guitars, viols and the violin family to designate a tuning other than the normal, established one." Michael Kennedy in the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music defines it as "Mistuning. Abnormal tuning of a string instrument in order to obtain special chordal effects and changes of tone quality." Walter Piston in his Orchestration defines it as "a Change from the normal tuning of the string." Willy Apel in the Harvard Dictionary of Music defines it as "Abnormal tuning of a stringed instrument for the purpose of obtaining unusual chords, facilitating difficult passages, or changing the tone color." TheScotch (talk) 07:14, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Re: "[the Grove] guitar section of 'scordatura'...confusingly mentions 'true scordatura'.
"True scorditura" in contradistinction to drop-D tuning, which Grove calls "quite common". Grove seems to me to be implying that drop-D is not truly scorditura because it's so often found that it might itself be considered a "normal, established" tuning. TheScotch (talk) 07:32, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Re: "Of course logic dictates that we need to be able to distinguish between an alternate tuning where the performer plays the pitch as notated and a situation where the pitch that sounds is different than what is notated...."

If by "distinguish" you mean have separate terms for, "logic" dictates no such thing. Suppose we were to tune each string of a violin down one whole step. Suppose further that when we wrote for this violin, we called the pitch produced by the first finger in first position on the highest string F#. In that case, we'd be writing for this instrument just as we currently write for the (Bb) clarinet. Is the clarinet "mistuned" because it doesn't agree with the piano about the pitch of middle C? No. This is entirely relative; there is no absolute middle C. Rather than "logical", the distinction upon which you insist is actually arbitrary, however much it may be practically expedient on occasion. (If we tuned down the violin's strings by differing intervals, it might be easier for the violinist if we notated his part in concert.)

This is not to suggest that scordatura isn't relative too. Consider this observation from Willy Apel's Harvard Dictionary of Music: "In the early part of the seventeenth century a normal tuning for the lute was practically non-existent; consequently it is rather difficult in this period to consider any tuning as a scordatura." TheScotch (talk) 11:53, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

> If by "distinguish" you mean "have separate terms for", "logic" dictates no such thing. Of course it does. If I tell the performer to tune one of their strings in an odd manner I can either notate the score based on the actual pitches that sound (forcing the performer to change their way of thinking with respect to their normal fingering) or notate the piece as if the string were not retuned so that the resulting notes would sound different than what is notated. These are two very different approaches and it would be very useful if we had an easy way to communicate which option we want the performer to use. That is the very definition of what logic would dictate. Now as to whether common practice (and the reliable sources that report on that common practice) recognizes this utility in a consistent manner is a whole different thing and currently a subject of debate. SQGibbon (talk) 16:38, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Re: "...I can either notate the score based on the actual pitches that sound...."
As I've already explained, traditional notation does not specify absolute pitch. A clarinet's C is not less "actual" than a piano's C. That's why your distinction is not a logical one. It is a (variably) practical distinction in terms of notating the music and reading the music, but having two distinct terms wouldn't make either any easier.
Re: "it would be very useful if we had an easy way to communicate which option we want the performer to use."
Telling a performer to use scordatura A or scordatura B isn't going to help him perform a piece that uses scordatura. The piece itself has to specify the tuning and what the notation--if it departs from the usual notation for the instrument--means.
Re: "Now as to whether common practice (and the reliable sources that report on that common practice) recognizes this utility in a consistent manner is a whole different thing and currently a subject of debate."
The definition of scordatura is not "a subject of debate" (beyond this talk page). The definition is clear, and it says nothing about the method of notation. TheScotch (talk) 07:58, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

Classical guitar[edit]

Grove Dictionary of Music would seem to differ with this article as it currently stands in regard to scordatura and classical guitar. This is what Grove says: "For the six-string guitar (from the 19th century to the present), different tunings in true scordatura are rare, but the lowering of the sixth string by one tone is quite common (e.g. M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Sonata op.77, 1934). With the emergence of the new guitar, tablature was abandoned in favour of staff notation, which made reading and playing scordaturas difficult, and might explain the subsequent decline of unusual tunings for the instrument, except for music grounded in aural tradition. Some modern folk and popular guitarists use open-string tunings based upon a G or D chord (called ‘dropped tunings’), which enable simple fingerings to be used for basic harmonies (see GUITAR, §7)."

To summarize: Wikipedia says that classical guitar scordatura is common. Grove says for modern classical guitar other than drop-D it's rare. TheScotch (talk) 11:45, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

I've edited the Guitar section of this article, heretofore completely unscourced, to reflect the above information.TheScotch (talk) 12:25, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Endless, pointless listing[edit]

The violin, viola, and cello sections of this article are currently nothing but lists. It's difficult to imagine that in this form they could be of real use to a reader wishing to learn about scordatura. The function of an example is to illustrate a point. Without supporting text, an example is pointless. I propose that in these sections (as in the double bass and guitar sections as they currently stand) that scordatura as it applies to respective instruments should actually be discussed in actual prose, and that, where appropriate, a notable example or two can be integrated into the prose text. By where appropriate I mean if it helps and only if it helps to clarify the point being made. That also requires--especially, in the case of the violin section--that we should have fewer examples. TheScotch (talk) 23:04, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Lead--or "lede", if you prefer[edit]

Re: "It is usual [citation needed] to notate the finger position as if played in regular tuning, while the actual pitch resulting is altered (scordatura notation). When all the strings are tuned by the same interval up or down, as in the case of the viola in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, the part is transposed as a whole."

The reason the first sentence above strikes me as suspect (and the reason I've asked for a citation--aside from the absence of a citation) is that I immediately think of guitar drop-D tuning which is invariably (so far as I know) written in concert up an octave like normal guitar notation. The sentence may be perfectly correct, however, if it limited itself to a particular instrument (probably the violin) and a particular period. The second sentence would seem to be tautological, but probably it's trying to point out the existence of transposition scordatura, particularly viola and violin transposition scordatura. It seems to me that both sentences need to be moved (and reworked) into a different section of the article. TheScotch (talk) 08:49, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

Bowed strings/Use in classical music (bowed strings)[edit]

The Bowed strings section as it stands has a various problems, but I see no good reason for its existing at all. It seems to me that scordatura for bowed strings is better discussed in sections devoted exclusively to individual instruments.

The heading Use in classical music (bowed strings) is troublesome for several reasons. For one thing, it seems to be implying that classical music uses bowed strings only, which is obviously not the case (and why, by the way, is there no discussion of the lute in this article?). As someone has pointed out elsewhere, the term scordatura itself is a classical term, which suggests that the article should primarily (but not exclusively) devote itself to classical practice, making the heading also redundant. I think the heading should simply be removed, and that all individual instruments should be given matching section-title formats. TheScotch (talk) 09:11, 23 November 2014 (UTC)