|dc.description.abstract||The art of retuning stringed instruments has journeyed through four centuries of music under various identities. Retuning can range from its use for polyphonic expansion by Heinrich Biber to its virtuosic application by Niccolò Paganini; from Béla Bartók’s emulation of folk fiddles, to actual use in Scottish and North American fiddling; from the evocation of unusual timbres by Gustav Mahler and Camille Saint-Saëns, to its regular use by guitarists in popular music today.
Its role in Western art music goes by the name ‘scordatura’, and was heralded as a device of the ‘masters’ – the question is: masters of what, exactly? We know that the likes of Bach and Mozart were masters of composition, but perhaps they were, to an equal extent, masters of their instruments, and, by extension, masters of the scordatura technique.
With this in mind, this thesis proposes scordatura to be as much within the purview of the performer as that of the composer, with a specific focus on scordatura for the viola. The research takes historical uses of scordatura and recontextualises them for modern performance. It also explores new opportunities for the use of scordatura for aesthetic effects, as well as to provide new approaches towards problematic issues of instrumentation. Specifically, the research concludes that scordatura can be used for instrumental substitution, as well as retrospectively applied to a composition by the performer for purposes of voicing, resonance, and timbral contrast. The research also builds on the role of the performer in collaboration with a contemporary composer, a process that produces new special effects. Finally, the research expands knowledge in a range of intertwined secondary issues, including studies in genre, instrumentation, notation, the role of an edition, and the use of Fast Fourier Transform analysis.
This thesis indicates that there is an untapped potential for scordatura use, and lays out new pathways for the continued use of this technique. Fundamentally, it argues that as performers everywhere strive to be masters of their instrument, scordatura should be enfolded into their repertoire of skills.||