Scordatura notation — for various stringed instruments
I’m starting a new thread on scordatura notation because looks like extant forum posts on the topic (except for one) are rather dated ... while MuseScore itself has developed considerably since.
In a recent forum discussion I read that one could double-click a note and vertically drag it to change its “visual position” while leaving its pitch unchanged. This is the essence of scordatura, and hopefully an aspect of a viable construction method, so I’m wondering if anyone uses this feature for creating scordatura. I was very excited by the prospect as this would allow me to write more music in scordatura form.
Unfortunately I was unable to change the “visual position” via double-click-drag as suggested. (Operating MuseScore 3.5 Alpha under Mac OS 10.13.6)
Alternately I achieved the effect I wanted by changing the value of:
… but sadly, the stems didn’t move with the notes. And if I select the note and stem the Inspector won’t populate. So I need to look into this further.
Now a general discussion for those unfamiliar with scordatura.
In Italian the term scordatura literally means “retuned” or “mistuned/discord”.
Scordatura is also the name for a simple, clever and very useful form of “Guidian” notation.
Composers and scorists often use scordatura to create notatation for a stringed instrument that, for effect †, has been tuned in a manner that differs from its normal tuning.
For instance a violin is normally tune GDAE. And scordatura notation simplifies reading for the violinist when the when a part is written for violin retuned GDGD.
Note pitches for the retuned strings indicate finger positioning ... not the resulting sounding pitch. Thus with Scordatura, on the retuned instrument, the violinist reads as though everything is normal and the pitches play correctly. Of course, this can be a nightmare for musicians with perfect pitch. Likewise for a pianist or harpist trying to read along from the same score.
In a scenario where a violin is tuned GDGD, the strings shown here in bold are a whole step lower than normal. So the “scordaturist” writes the notes a whole step higher than they sound. Thus:
- The string formerly known as A is written as A, but sounds G because it’s tuned down a while step
- The first finger on that string is still written as B, but accordingly sounds A.
- The second finger is written as C# but sounds B.
- The third finger is written as D but sounds C.
- The fourth finger is written as E but sounds D (and is a unison with the open 1st string)
† Note / Purpose of scordatura:
An instrument like violin is sometimes retuned for various effects:
- to enable harmonies, chords and drones otherwise unattainable
- to produce new harmonics and overtones and sympathetic vibration
- to be able to play simple melodies an octave higher or lower while using the same fingering
- to alter the timbre
- to change the volume of the instrument
If one starts with a score written at actual pitch:
a pitch selection feature would be extremely helpful. For instance for the GDGD tuning, if one could select a pitch range and set the y offset to move the note up a whole step. I’m new to MuseScore and don’t see a pitch range option in the Selection Filter. Is there such a feature there or elsewhere in MuseScore?
then after the pitch range is selected, ideally one could change the y position of all selected notes, and viola! (I mean Voila!!)
If one is enters scordatura literally (i.e. the finger positions, not the correct pitches:
- there would need to be a function to set the pitch of selected notes to +/- x half steps to produce the correct sound.
- notes could be entered via tablature and then pitch corrected.
Any thoughts on the value of scordatura in MuseScore?