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Scordatura keyboard score

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Contents

Motivation

This method gives you an easy way to compose microtonally using nothing more than your ordinary composition software, and retuning software such as Tune Smithy. It is perhaps stretching the name #scordatura a little to apply it to keyboard scores - but I don't know of a better word for it.

How it works

The score still shows the same notes as before C, Eb etc. But you can assign any convenient pitches you like to those notes, whatever pitches are useful to achieve the desired musical results. The resulting score only makes musical sense if retuned to the desired tuning - or played on a suitably tuned keyboard.

To take a simple example, you could retune C C# D Eb E F F# etc to the harmonic series. Then C would play the 1/1, C# the 2/1, D the 3/1, Eb the 4/1, E the 5/1, F the 6/1, F# the 7/1 and so on. You could play subharmonics on the notes below C, so the B plays 1/2, Bb plays 1/3 and so on, giving room to notate sixty three harmonics and subharmonics if you use the complete range of midi notes.

The score looks like any other score, with conventional music notation C, C# etc. But when you play it - that's then when you find out how different it is from a conventional score. It is intended only to be played on a keyboard retuned in this fashion - or via retuning software like FTS.

To make a more legible score, you could retune C to 1/1, D to 2/1, E to 3/1 etc - same idea but play the harmonic series from successive white notes.

Obviously with this approach the sky is the limit, you can play just about any microtonal music in this fashion, especially if you use software for the retuning. Most can just be played straight off, and other types can be adapted in various ways to work in this fashion. For instance, one could use one or more octaves of the keyboard range as keyswitches, e.g. for tonic shifting, to permit the player to play music with shifting tonics. Again the player doesn't need to know how it works. The score would notate the notes that need to be played to shift the tonic in the tonic shifting region of the score. Then the retuning software needs to be set up beforehand, to match the score - and the player just plays the notes as notated to play it as intended with the correct pitches..

The resulting score can be played immediately by keyboard players, harpists, etc

This is a natural way to make a score for keyboard players, as keyboard players can read such a score immediately with no training at all on a suitably tuned keyboard. They don't need to be familiar with the tuning system at all. So long as the keyboard is suitably tuned, that takes care of that side of things completely.

Their keyboard training and hand eye coordination takes care of everything else. They may get a surprise at some of the notes they hear as they play, and the score they have to play may look very strange indeed, but once they are over that, if they just play keyboard keys corresponding to the notated notes, then they will play the intended pitches.

The resulting score could also be played similarly by a harpist, if you can make a suitably tuned harp (or it is close enough to the usual pitches so that the tuning can be achieved by retuning a normal harp). Or on a zither or suitably retuned xylophone etc. Any instrument with fixed pitches could be retuned and then played using such a score.

The later examples in [midi_relaying.htm#retune_score How use FTS to compose microtonally ]should help make it clear.

Scordatura Keyboard score - to coin a word

I call this a Scordatura keyboard score to coin a word.

Traditionally scordatura is used for instruments such as strings. A typical example is the score for Bach's sixth 'cello suite which has one of the strings tuned differently. The score is written just like a normal conventional Cello score- so the player can play the piece using their familiar hand eye coordination, though the notes heard on the A string (retuned to G) are quite different from what they would normally expect for the fingering. Scordatura scores are also used in some fiddle music, and was the standard notation for the historical arpeggione during its short life (the instrument Schubert wrote his Arpeggione sonata for).

To find out more about traditional scordatura scores, see the scordatura article on wikipedia.

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