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Instrumental Transformations in Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas
Music Theory Online (2020)
  • Jonathan De Souza, Western University
Each of Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas features a distinct violin tuning. How do these scordatura relate to standard tuning? How might they affect the sonatas’ musical organization and players’ experience? Transformational voice-leading theory helps to reveal overlapping categories here. Quintal scordatura include adjacent-string fifths, creating zones where notated and sounding intervals match. Chordal scordatura, in which the strings realize a triad, involve more displacement. Psychological research on altered pitch feedback suggests that scordatura are most unsettling for players when they preserve aspects of standard tuning. Analyzing scordatura, then, shows how instruments function as spaces for musical action.
  • violin scordatura,
  • Heinrich Biber,
  • Mystery Sonatas,
  • performance and analysis,
  • transformational theory,
  • altered auditory feedback,
  • musical instruments
Publication Date
December, 2020
Citation Information
Jonathan De Souza. "Instrumental Transformations in Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas" Music Theory Online Vol. 26 Iss. 4 (2020)
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