A scordatura (literally Italian for "mistuning"), also called cross-tuning, is an alternative tuning used for the open strings of a string instrument. In the Western classical music tradition it is an extended technique to allow the playing of otherwise impossible note sequences or note combinations. In folk music traditions, by contrast, cross-tunings are more usually used to give the instrument a different sound by altering the pitch of string resonances and drones.

cordatura in classical music

Notable examples of scordatura tunings:
* Marco Uccellini (1610 - 1680), violinist and composer, was among the first to introduce scordatura tunings. He published numerous pieces in the mid-17th century.
* H.I.F. Biber's "Rosary Sonatas" for violin and continuo (c. 1674). Aside from the first (Annunciation) and last works (Passacaglia, for solo violin) of this collection, where in the instrument is set to the common G-D-a-e tuning, the violin for each sonata is tuned to a different array of pitches. Sonata XI (the Resurrection) is a special case: in addition to a unique scordatura, the two inner strings of the violin are interchanged between the bridge and tailpiece of the instrument, thus attaining a tuning (from top string to bottom string) of G-g-D-d.
* Johann Pachelbel's "Musicalische Ergötzung" bestehend in 6 verstimmten Partien (Musical Entertainment consisting of six suites for mistuned violins, 1691), six suites for two violins and continuo. Tunings include C-F-C-F, C-G-C-F, B♭-E♭-B♭-E♭, B-E-B-E, C-G-C-F, and B♭-F-B♭-E♭.
* In the original version of Vivaldi’s opera Tito Manlio Servilia’s aria ‘Tu dormi in tante pene’ also contains an elaborate part for viola d’amore written in scordatura
* Also by Vivaldi is his violin concerto in A major, Op.9, No.6, in which the violin's G string is tuned up to an A, allowing for a beautifully resonant scale and arpeggio motif ending on the retuned string.
* Mozart, viola in Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra. Changing the pitch of the open strings to a semitone "higher" was in this case probably primarily intended to make the viola sound "louder", and so better discernible in the symphonic orchestra: indeed, increasing the tension in a string, not only sharpens the pitch, but also makes it sound louder, the loudest sound being obtained just before breaking.
* Georg Philipp Telemann, Concerto in A Major for two Violins, TWV 43:7
* Mahler, scordatura violin soloist in the 2nd movement of his 4th Symphony. In this case the composer probably desired the specific tone of the sound produced by a scordatura violin, which is less "suave" than the sound of a standard tuning.
* Saint-Saëns, solo violin in "Danse Macabre", where the E-string is tuned to Emusic|flat.
* 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, the final chord of his Rite of Spring requires the cellos to retune a string so it may be played "open" (unstopped by the fingers and consequently more resonant) as part of a quadruple stop.
* Richard Strauss's tone poem Ein Heldenleben includes a passage in which the second violins must tune their G strings down in order to play a Gmusic|flat.
* Ottorino Respighi's tone poem The Pines of Rome requires the cellos to tune the low C string down to a B in the third movement. Also, the basses must either have a fifth low B string or tune a C extension down to the B in the third and fourth movements.
* Bach's fifth cello suite is often performed with the highest string tuned down from an A to a G. Bach probably intended for it to be played this way, but many cellists prefer to play it in standard tuning.
* the cello in George Crumb's chamber work "Vox Balaenae" (scored for electric flute, electric cello, and electric piano). The traditional C-G-D-A tuning is changed to B-Fmusic|sharp-Dmusic|sharp-A, which serves to emphasize the key of B major that emerges in the final movement.
* Zoltán Kodály's solo cello sonata in B minor requires the cellist to tune down the two lower strings from G and C to Fmusic|sharp and B, to emphasize the key with recurring B-minor chords.
* Ligeti's Violin Concerto
* Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 6 in D Major
* Schnittke's Monologue for viola and strings
* Schumann's Piano Quartet in E-flat, Op. 47, requires the cellist to retune the C string down to Bmusic|flat for the finale.
* In some double bass solo music, a specific solo tuning (Fmusic|sharp-B-E-A) that requires a different set of strings is used. This is to allow the bass to be heard better over the piano or orchestra. With better instrumental technology and string manufacturing, orchestrally tuned (E-A-D-G) bass editions are becoming more common.
* In Haydn's Symphony No. 60 in C ("Il Distratto"), the first and second violins start the finale of this unusual six-movement symphony with the lowest string tuned to F, but tune up to G in the course of the music to create a comical effect. The title of the symphony means "the absent-minded man" – so it is as if the violins have "forgotten" to tune their strings. The music actually stops for the violins to re-tune before continuing! Haydn also uses a violin with the lowest string tuned to F in the trio of his Symphony No. 67 in F.
* In Béla Bartók's piece "Contrasts" for clarinet, violin and piano, the opening bars of the third movement utilize a different turning on the violin (Gmusic|sharp-D-A-Emusic|flat) for a Hungarian folk effect.

cordatura in American folk fiddle music

Scordatura is commonly used on the fiddle in folk music of Appalachia, the southern United States and Scandinavia. The fiddle may be re-tuned in any number of ways in these musical idioms, but there are two common re-tunings. 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. Even more frequently used is a scordatura tuning of AEAE for music played in the key of A major. Among fiddlers this is referred to as "cross-tuning." In both of these scordatura tunings, scordatura facilitates a drone on an open string next to the string on which the melody is being played. Relatively well-known American folk tunes that are often played in cross-tuning include "Breaking Up Christmas," "Cluck Old Hen," "Hangman's Reel," "Horse and Buggy," and "Ways of the World."

GDAE is known in some North American Old-Timey fiddling circles as "that Eye-Talian (Italian) tuning," the implication being that it is only one of many possibilities. Other tunings include:
* FCGD = Cajun Tuning (one whole step down from GDAE)
* GDGB = Open G Tuning
* GDGD = Sawmill Tuning
* GDAD = "Gee-Dad"
* DDAD = Dead Man's Tuning, or Open D Tuning, or Bonaparte's Retreat Tuning, or "Dee-Dad"
* ADAE = Old-Timey D Tuning
* AEAE = Cross Tuning, or High Bass, High Counter (or High Bass, High Tenor) similar to Sawmill Tuning
* AEACmusic|sharp = Black Mountain Rag Tuning, Calico Tuning, Open A Tuning, or Drunken Hiccups Tuning
* AEAD for Old Sledge, Silver Lake
* EDAE for Glory in the Meeting House
* EEAE for Get up in the Cool

cordatura for the guitar

Scordatura is extensively used on the classical guitar to facilitate the playing of a particular piece. Common tunings are the 6th (E) string down to D or C, 5th (A) string down to G, 4th (D) string down to C, 3rd (G) string down to F#, 2nd (B) string up to C, and 1st (E) string down to E♭.

In blues, slide guitarists use open tunings, in which the open strings are tuned to the notes of a chord, to form chords with the slide. Blind Willie Johnson often used open D tuning (DADF#AD), Duane Allman favored the similar open E (EBEG#BE), while Keith Richards often plays in open G (DGDGBD).

Pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath popularized C# standard tuning in the early seventies. Guitarist Tony Iommi originally employed C-tuning due to his injured fingertips, and subsequently found it more appropriate for the band's dark and heavy bass-driven sound.

Many rock guitarists detune their lowest string to drop D tuning (DADGBE). Drop D tuning allows the bass strings to form a deep, resonant power chord which can be moved up the fretboard with a single finger.

Some doom metal and other guitarists from similar genres detune all their strings from drop D tuning equally, sometimes, as in the case of Baroness, going as low as drop G (GDGCEA). Extreme detuning allows the same power chord voicing as drop D tuning, but much lower.

Sonic Youth's guitarist Lee Ranaldo, said that, among other approaches, the group "used modal tunings, open tunings (ones we made up), octave pairs, two or three strings tuned to the same note, same gauge strings in different places or even half step tunings like pair of D strings and then a pair of D sharps." [Prendergrast, Mark. "The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance, the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age"; Bloomsbury, 2000; ISBN 1-58234-134-6, pg. 326] The latter examples (such as D and Dmusic|sharp alongside each other) are very rarely used in pop music, and offer a distinctly jarring dissonance, imparting the teeth-rattling quality so prominent on the group's early albums.


ee also

* Slack tuning
* Stringed instrument tunings

External links

* [ About Scordatura and the Viola d'amore]

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