Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:11 am

crazyrach97 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:18 pm
Can I ask how you have that Decacorde tuned?
Pitch set at 415, standard guitar tuning as far down as string five, then descending diatonically: G, F, E, D, C.

It's not as flexible or useful as Rob's 10-string tuning having been designed for a very specific purpose i.e. to facilitate the performance by amateurs of very easy pieces, without the need to fret those pesky bass notes. Nothing more than a curious novelty today.

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:32 am

Yes, it's worth restating the reasons for Yepes' tuning: to bring sympathetic resonance to the full chromatic scale, which then led to a more balanced instrument for all keys. What it is not is an extension of the bass register apart from a low C, or a method of playing bass notes an octave lower, nor is it a vehicle for playing 10-course lute music from tablature.

Now, I am aware of the promotion here of Yepes tuning by Viktor Van Niekerk, which seemed to alienate people, with our own David Norton likening him to a fascist. I can't remember reading any fascist dictum on guitar tuning, but my own position is: do whatever you want. But I do think it is important that we understand why Yepes chose the tuning he did, and hopefully see that it is not a guitar attempt to play lute music, but a modern instrument with tremendous scope for playing contemporary music, while also being a vehicle for old music.

2lost2find
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by 2lost2find » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:31 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:11 am
crazyrach97 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:18 pm
Can I ask how you have that Decacorde tuned?
Pitch set at 415, standard guitar tuning as far down as string five, then descending diatonically: G, F, E, D, C.

It's not as flexible or useful as Rob's 10-string tuning having been designed for a very specific purpose i.e. to facilitate the performance by amateurs of very easy pieces, without the need to fret those pesky bass notes. Nothing more than a curious novelty today.
You don't feel that the ability to get the bass notes you want from any position on the neck is an advantage for any player, amateur or otherwise? In trying to write guitar music I've come to see the inability to do so as an almost crippling limitation. I see the open G, F, and C strings as a radical expansion of possibility.
RobMacKillop wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:32 am
Yes, it's worth restating the reasons for Yepes' tuning: to bring sympathetic resonance to the full chromatic scale, which then led to a more balanced instrument for all keys. What it is not is an extension of the bass register apart from a low C, or a method of playing bass notes an octave lower, nor is it a vehicle for playing 10-course lute music from tablature.

Now, I am aware of the promotion here of Yepes tuning by Viktor Van Niekerk, which seemed to alienate people, with our own David Norton likening him to a fascist. I can't remember reading any fascist dictum on guitar tuning, but my own position is: do whatever you want. But I do think it is important that we understand why Yepes chose the tuning he did, and hopefully see that it is not a guitar attempt to play lute music, but a modern instrument with tremendous scope for playing contemporary music, while also being a vehicle for old music.
I've always found Yepes' reasoning curious. If I'm going to have more strings I want expanded capabilities. That said, the Yepes setup offers intriguing possibilities, especially for delving into keys guitarists usually avoid. I don't mind that it stops at C; in my opinion that's as low as you can reasonably go with a guitar anyway and even then you need a longer scale for it to sound good (which you have done).

I toyed with the idea of guitars with re-entrant tunings for awhile, but after giving it a lot of thought have decided I'll get the same benefit from having more strings going down in order and consider the tuning of all bass strings to be flexible... which is essentially what the baroque lutenists did.

That said, the re-entrant setup does give the advantage of preserving your six string guitar shapes intact. I personally don't care about that... I'm in "no sacred cows" mode at the moment. But then, I suspect you will not see many contemporary non-guitarist composers jumping on guitars with extra strings unless and until a more or less standard tuning emerges, and Yepes tuning might be a logical choice simply because it does allow for performance of existing repertoire without modification of any kind, it doesn't go too low (once again I don't like the sound of a standard-scale guitar below D or so, and see C as the practical limit), it expands the resources of the guitar into territory guitarists have traditionally feared to tread, and it already has a certain following. I'll be curious to hear the new pieces you've had written.

Conall
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Conall » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:14 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:11 am
crazyrach97 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:18 pm
Can I ask how you have that Decacorde tuned?
Pitch set at 415, standard guitar tuning as far down as string five, then descending diatonically: G, F, E, D, C.

It's not as flexible or useful as Rob's 10-string tuning having been designed for a very specific purpose i.e. to facilitate the performance by amateurs of very easy pieces, without the need to fret those pesky bass notes. Nothing more than a curious novelty today.
Hey that tuning / set up looks perfect for the Bach cello suites - played at original pitch / original keys (except maybe the suite in E flat - but I guess you could tune the E down to E flat if you wanted to).

I might have to think about investing in a 10 string tuned that way!

I don't agree that it's only useful for amateurs - the lute is based on the same principle ie bass notes descending down by step & with the potential of tuning them down a semitone depending on key. Freeing up an extra left hand finger would be very "handy" for professionals too!

Conall
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Conall » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:31 am

RobMacKillop wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:32 am
....... my own position is: do whatever you want. But I do think it is important that we understand why Yepes chose the tuning he did, and hopefully see that it is not a guitar attempt to play lute music, but a modern instrument with tremendous scope for playing contemporary music, while also being a vehicle for old music.
The most important considerations for me are:
- does my guitar or lute of whatever variety allow me to play the music I want to play,
- does it sound like the instrument I like best or even improve on it?

I tried the lute, didn't get on well without nails, with courses, with the massive RH span of the Baroque lute, with Baroque tuning & though I like the sound very much I prefer the sound of a Spanish guitar.
The 6 string means too many compromises with regard to keys & bass notes in Bach's pieces especially & many other Baroque & Renaissance works - in my opinion.
The Yepes tuned 10 string keeps the traditional Spanish sound and, it seems, improves on resonance while allowing the lowest note of the cello so it would interest me mainly for Bach's cello suites but also, like Rob, I could see the possibilities for new music. But I would miss not being able to play lower than C for music originally written for 9-13 courses.
And Paul Galbraith's & other similar guitars have an overly bright high A string in my opinion which takes away from the traditional lower, tenor /baritone sound of the Spanish guitar.

But yes, do whatever you want!

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:34 am

The latest, using my favourite nylon strings, Savarez White Card 520B:


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David Norton
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by David Norton » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:12 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:32 am
Now, I am aware of the promotion here of Yepes tuning by Viktor Van Niekerk, which seemed to alienate people, with our own David Norton likening him to a fascist. I can't remember reading any fascist dictum on guitar tuning, but my own position is: do whatever you want. But I do think it is important that we understand why Yepes chose the tuning he did, and hopefully see that it is not a guitar attempt to play lute music, but a modern instrument with tremendous scope for playing contemporary music, while also being a vehicle for old music.
I think the word was fanatic, not fascist. :lol:

Regardless, VvN is a very knowledgeable scholar of the Yepes approach, and quite a skilled player. I learned quite a lot from reading his now-defunct 10-String website. I still quite admire his knowledge and musical concepts. He is simply 100% intolerant of anyone using non-Yepesian tuning schemes, and has a history of coming down hard on people on-line who deviate from Yepesian Purity.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

RobMacKillop
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:20 pm

Okay, David, sorry if I misrepresented you, but that's what I remember. But let's move on. I'll ask my wife (a dictionary writer) to add Yepesian to the lexicon! :-)

2lost2find
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by 2lost2find » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:28 pm

I had to Google Niekerk. The guy can play but my god he sure is hung up on the theory that the Yepes tuning is the one right and true way to do things, because sympathetic resonances. Meh... I just don't care about that. At all. My basic approach to sympathetic resonance is mostly "kill it with fire"... I do a lot of damping even on a 6 string. If you're going to sell me on an instrument with more strings or a different tuning, the only thing I want to know about is how it will expand my musical options.

Honestly I question the need for a standard tuning. Consider steel string fingerstylists; they all just do what works for them. Of course the essential difference is they are mostly writing and performing their own music.

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:38 pm

Well, no one here is pushing for a standard tuning. And as for sympathetic resonances, they are part of what I think should fall within your term of musical options. And that's the point - they are an option. If you want that F to ring on when you take your finger off, that's possible. If not, just damp it. The technique is not difficult.

In my video above, notice the high B on the second string 12th fret at 1'31" into the video. I hold it long enough to let the sympathetic resonance take over, allowing me to shift down to first position for the next chord. And just before that chord, I stop the resonance very briefly, to help create space for the chord. If that's not a "musical option", I don't know what you would call it.

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by 2lost2find » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:06 pm

Fair point, Rob. I dug the video BTW. Nice piece, beautifully performed.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:03 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:Can I ask how you have that Decacorde tuned?
Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:Pitch set at 415, standard guitar tuning as far down as string five, then descending diatonically: G, F, E, D, C.

It's not as flexible or useful as Rob's 10-string tuning having been designed for a very specific purpose i.e. to facilitate the performance by amateurs of very easy pieces, without the need to fret those pesky bass notes. Nothing more than a curious novelty today.
Conall wrote:I don't agree that it's only useful for amateurs ... Freeing up an extra left hand finger would be very "handy" for professionals too!
I didn't say that it was only useful for amateurs - I said that it was designed with that purpose in mind.
Conall wrote:Hey that tuning / set up looks perfect for the Bach cello suites - played at original pitch / original keys (except maybe the suite in E flat - but I guess you could tune the E down to E flat if you wanted to).
I have played Bach's cello suites on baroque lute, alto-guitar (tuned in the renaissance manner), mandocello, six, seven, eight and 10-string guitars and yes, noting the sixth string G on the décacorde I immediately thought of the violin partias.

My wife - not a guitarist - responded to the sound of Bach on the décacorde saying that it was the best she'd ever heard.
2lost2find wrote:You don't feel that the ability to get the bass notes you want from any position on the neck is an advantage for any player, amateur or otherwise?
Indeed I do - hence all the instruments - the question is how best to achieve it. Having played so many variants I have come to the conclusion (and I am sure that Rob will agree) that there is no single answer.

The thrust of this thread is not about extended range or accessibility but rather consistent harmonic resonance and texture - their manipulation and control - which Rob has explained very well.
2lost2find wrote:... sympathetic resonances. Meh... I just don't care about that. At all. My basic approach to sympathetic resonance is mostly "kill it with fire".
I know where you're coming from (I performed rock for many years too) but I suggest a slight broadening of your thinking. The repertoire we're dealing with here is completely different and often devised specifically to exploit the resonances of a particlar instrument, be it a guitar, a lute or a cello.

Lutes alone, in their many varieties, have generated such different styles of writing that the work of one composer barely transcribes adequately and with all idiomatic textures intact to the instrument of another. For instance - try playing some of the work of Lawes or Mesangeau on a baroque Dm lute.

As an aside - how do you deal with performing in a particularly resonant hall? I think of the room as an extension of the instrument and will alter my technique to take advantage of the extended possibilities.
RobMacKillop wrote:... as for sympathetic resonances, they are part of what I think should fall within your term of musical options.
Agree 100% and good example Rob.

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Conall » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:16 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:03 pm
[
Conall wrote:I don't agree that it's only useful for amateurs ... Freeing up an extra left hand finger would be very "handy" for professionals too!
I didn't say that it was only useful for amateurs - I said that it was designed with that purpose in mind.
Conall wrote:Hey that tuning / set up looks perfect for the Bach cello suites - played at original pitch / original keys (except maybe the suite in E flat - but I guess you could tune the E down to E flat if you wanted to).
I have played Bach's cello suites on baroque lute, alto-guitar (tuned in the renaissance manner), mandocello, six, seven, eight and 10-string guitars and yes, noting the sixth string G on the décacorde I immediately thought of the violin partias.

My wife - not a guitarist - responded to the sound of Bach on the décacorde saying that it was the best she'd ever heard.
Ah, sorry about this mis-quote about amateurs.

But I'm intrigued by your wife's reaction to Bach on the decacorde - any chance of a recording for us?!

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:19 pm

Conall, could you please start a separate thread about the decacorde. I'd appreciate that.

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Re: Thoughts: One Week Into Playing a 10-string

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:35 pm

Conall wrote:But I'm intrigued by your wife's reaction to Bach on the decacorde - any chance of a recording for us?!
Lol. I should qualify that comment - she meant that it was the best Bach she'd ever heard ... from me.

I'm not sure why - she's very musically sensitive (though she would not agree) and can distinguish between the sound of my concert guitars from several rooms away. I wondered if she somehow latched on to the lower pitch.

I haven't got around to the solo recording lark - lack of two things - bravery and technical know-how, though I did buy a little device (Zoom) which I didn't like the results of. I've now started a "sound" fund and have picked the brains of a few players on here that I've enjoyed - Rob and Stephen Kenyon to name a couple. When I get enough cash together (soon) I will embark on the process - hope to do it before I die.

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