Curious about the 10-string guitars

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viktor van niekerk

Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by viktor van niekerk » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:18 am

jounis wrote:It must be noted that the WIkipedia article is only promoting the Yepes modern tuning. Facts are straight, but the importance of the balanced resonances is a personal opinion of the writer. Many 10-string players prefer more bass range over the resonances.

As someone who implicitly ‘believes’ in “the importance of balanced [chromaticised] resonance”, I should like to respond to the above statement.

Firstly, it is conceded that the “[f]acts are straight”. What are these facts? Let me list them:

1. That the primary purpose behind the invention of the modern 10-string guitar of Yepes is resonance linearized across the 12 notes of the chromatic octave.
2. That the secondary purpose behind its invention is extended bass range to facilitate more faithful playing of lute and keyboard music.
3. That the bass strings act as tuned resonators. To put it simply—forgoing a lengthy acoustic explanation of resonance and the overtones of vibrating strings—(4) resonates strongly with D [and A], likewise (5) with A [and E], (6) resonates strongly with E and B, likewise (7) with C and G, (8) with A# and F, (9) with G# and D#, and (10) with F# and C#.
4. That chromatic string resonance is now present as a direct consequence of this singular tuning: e’ b g d A E C A# G# F#.
5. That the above is not a matter of opinion, but that it is based on laws of physics/acoustics and can be mathematically and empirically proven.
As agreed, these points belong to the category of Fact or Truth.

However, I aim to refute the categorisation of “the importance of the balanced resonances” as a Belief—a subjective, “personal opinion of the writer”. [A tacit ‘individual’ is implied before “writer”, as in belonging to the margins rather than consensus. I shall return to this in a moment.]

While the above judgement repudiates the Truth of this importance (and by extension disclaims its epistemic foundations) it is ironically unaware of its own, self-deprecating argument. In other words, let us not forget that this statement (“the importance of the balanced resonances is a personal opinion of the writer”) also belongs to the category of Belief as a personal opinion of its own writer. It refutes nothing, but undermines itself as the proverbial pot that calls the kettle black.

Let us also bear in mind that the ‘opinion’ (that resonance linearized over the chromatic octave has interpretative advantages and therefore aesthetic significance) is an ‘opinion’ that has been shared by a number of highly respected musical figures, persons with significant experience, who’ve been highly trained and/or possess a high degree of knowledge/skill, including the late Bruno Maderna and Maurice Ohana. Ask any concert pianist whether s/he would deem acceptable a piano whose pedal mechanism is damaged in such a way that only tones of E, B, A, and D resonate/sustain, and the answer will universally be an emphatic: NO! Even guitarist Stephan Schmidt, whatever tuning he may have used to record Bach (and I emphasise the difference between recording and live performance), without any doubt, predominantly uses the Yepes tuning of the 10-string guitar in concert. His reason for playing the instrument is, after all, to have access to the works of significant 20th century composers, like Messrs Maderna & Ohana, who wrote their music specifically for Yepes’s instrument because of its chromatic resonance. And, it goes without saying, as an authority there is Narciso Yepes himself: the most musically and otherwise erudite concert guitarist of his generation, an already brilliant mind sharpened by studies with such luminaries as Nadia Boulanger, Vicente Asencio, Walter Gieseking, and Georges Enesco.

For some [and I include myself here] this recourse to authority is sufficient to establish as Truth the aesthetic significance of chromatic resonance [though this is hardly the sole basis for my own ‘opinion’ on the matter].

In contrast, a statement such as “Many 10-string players prefer more bass range over the resonances” is recourse not to authority, but to majority. It is an argumentum ad populum, a fallacy of logic that states Truth is the opinion of the majority, or Truth is what the masses believe. (Another eyeless uroboric worm devours its own backside.)

In addition, this argument also contradicts its author’s previous statement that the “[f]acts are straight”. [Now I’m being facetious, but let’s see it through.] The fact given (above) as number 2 is that Yepes’s 10-string guitar already offers an extended bass range in addition to chromatic resonance. [This comes straight out of the article in question, which is drawn almost verbatim from Yepes’s own press materials, recital programmes and interviews.] In other words, extended bass range and chromatic resonance (i.e. Yepes Tuning) are not mutually exclusive.

On a more practical level: if one has a correctly built instrument (Ramirez or Bernabe), and one uses a correctly manufactured 7th string (that is to say the 7th by Aranjuez and not LaBella or Hannabach), and one lowers the 7th or C string to B1 or A1 [in the Scientific/American pitch referencing notation], and one has a technique approaching [or surpassing?] that of Yepes, then one ought to be able to have access to the full extended bass range, without completely re-stringing the instrument. Though one would, like Yepes, have to finger many of the additional low bass notes. It is, after all, expected of any 6-string guitarist to do the same, rather than resorting to the technical crutches of harp-like open strings.

Finally, let us not forget, the purpose of having “more bass range” (for playing lute or keyboard music) is to be, in our capacity as guitarists, more faithful to the composer’s musical Ideas—to approach a more formally and stylistically accurate representation of these Ideas—than is possible on the 6-string guitar. If a 10-string guitar does this, while also offering the extended interpretative possibilities of chromatic resonance—the possibility of more rounded phrasing, greater sustain and cohesion, extended dynamic range, greater evenness of timbre, the possibility of playing slow pieces at an appropriately slow tempo without running out of sound, and other interpretative subtleties (think of the benefits of the piano’s various pedals)—then the existence of the 10-string guitar on the world concert stage is fully justified, even [dare I say?] as the Standard. (It has the potential.) However, if a 10-stringed guitar is used for neither of these purposes—when that uroboric telos of extra basses merely for the sake of extra basses rears its ugly head—...well, this is, after all, the general misconception that the guitar world holds about the instrument—and the reason why (despite being promoted by great players like Yepes and Schmidt, or in another incarnation, by Carulli, Mertz, Regondi, Coste et al.) the instrument itself remains in the margins of the margins.

Viktor van Niekerk, Sydney

PS. Let me add as an afterthought, the above is by no means an attack on the commentator - a fine guitarist. It is not even an attack on his argument. No, it is a refutation of such an argument against chromatic resonance that should be seen to be circular and illogical. As such, it is an exercise in reason, not an expression of emotion. Is my final conclusion 'intollerant'? Yes, but then I am playing the role of devil's advocate with the hopes of engendering some reflection rather than falling into the trap of the argumentum ad populum. What strikes me is that no one is self-reflexive enough to ask why 'intollerant' arguments against chromatic resonance should be acceptable, while the opposite is not.
Last edited by viktor van niekerk on Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

soltirefa
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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by soltirefa » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:57 am

viktor van niekerk wrote:
jounis wrote:It must be noted that the WIkipedia article is only promoting the Yepes modern tuning. Facts are straight, but the importance of the balanced resonances is a personal opinion of the writer. Many 10-string players prefer more bass range over the resonances.

As someone who implicitly ‘believes’ in “the importance of balanced [chromaticised] resonance”, I should like to respond to the above statement.

Firstly, it is conceded that the “[f]acts are straight”. What are these facts? Let me list them:

1. That the primary purpose behind the invention of the modern 10-string guitar of Yepes is resonance linearized across the 12 notes of the chromatic octave.
2. That the secondary purpose behind its invention is extended bass range to facilitate more faithful playing of lute and keyboard music.
3. That the bass strings act as tuned resonators. To put it simply—forgoing a lengthy acoustic explanation of resonance and the overtones of vibrating strings—(4) resonates strongly with D [and A], likewise (5) with A [and E], (6) resonates strongly with E and B, likewise (7) with C and G, (8) with A# and F, (9) with G# and D#, and (10) with F# and C#.
4. That chromatic string resonance is now present as a direct consequence of this singular tuning: e’ b g d A E C A# G# F#.
5. That the above is not a matter of opinion, but that it is based on laws of physics/acoustics and can be mathematically and empirically proven.
As agreed, these points belong to the category of Fact or Truth.

However, I aim to refute the categorisation of “the importance of the balanced resonances” as a Belief—a subjective, “personal opinion of the writer”. [A tacit ‘individual’ is implied before “writer”, as in belonging to the margins rather than consensus. I shall return to this in a moment.]

While the above judgement repudiates the Truth of this importance (and by extension disclaims its epistemic foundations) it is ironically unaware of its own, self-deprecating argument. In other words, let us not forget that this statement (“the importance of the balanced resonances is a personal opinion of the writer”) also belongs to the category of Belief as a personal opinion of its own writer. It refutes nothing, but undermines itself as the proverbial pot that calls the kettle black.

Let us also bear in mind that the ‘opinion’ (that resonance linearized over the chromatic octave has interpretative advantages and therefore aesthetic significance) is an ‘opinion’ that has been shared by a number of highly respected musical figures, persons with significant experience, who’ve been highly trained and/or possess a high degree of knowledge/skill, including the late Bruno Maderna and Maurice Ohana. Ask any concert pianist whether s/he would deem acceptable a piano whose pedal mechanism is damaged in such a way that only tones of E, B, A, and D resonate/sustain, and the answer will universally be an emphatic: NO! Even guitarist Stephan Schmidt, whatever tuning he may have used to record Bach (and I emphasise the difference between recording and live performance), without any doubt, predominantly uses the Yepes tuning of the 10-string guitar in concert. His reason for playing the instrument is, after all, to have access to the works of significant 20th century composers, like Messrs Maderna & Ohana, who wrote their music specifically for Yepes’s instrument because of its chromatic resonance. And, it goes without saying, as an authority there is Narciso Yepes himself: the most musically and otherwise erudite concert guitarist of his generation, an already brilliant mind sharpened by studies with such luminaries as Nadia Boulanger, Vicente Asencio, Walter Gieseking, and Georges Enesco.

For some [and I include myself here] this recourse to authority is sufficient to establish as Truth the aesthetic significance of chromatic resonance [though this is hardly the sole basis for my own ‘opinion’ on the matter].

In contrast, a statement such as “Many 10-string players prefer more bass range over the resonances” is recourse not to authority, but to majority. It is an argumentum ad populum, a fallacy of logic that states Truth is the opinion of the majority, or Truth is what the masses believe. (Another eyeless uroboric worm devours its own backside.)

In addition, this argument also contradicts its author’s previous statement that the “[f]acts are straight”. [Now I’m being facetious, but let’s see it through.] The fact given (above) as number 2 is that Yepes’s 10-string guitar already offers an extended bass range in addition to chromatic resonance. [This comes straight out of the article in question, which is drawn almost verbatim from Yepes’s own press materials, recital programmes and interviews.] In other words, extended bass range and chromatic resonance (i.e. Yepes Tuning) are not mutually exclusive.

On a more practical level: if one has a correctly built instrument (Ramirez or Bernabe), and one uses a correctly manufactured 7th string (that is to say the 7th by Aranjuez and not LaBella or Hannabach), and one lowers the 7th or C string to B1 or A1 [in Helmholtz notation, not American], and one has a technique approaching [or surpassing?] that of Yepes, then one ought to be able to have access to the full extended bass range, without completely re-stringing the instrument. Though one would, like Yepes, have to finger many of the additional low bass notes. It is, after all, expected of any 6-string guitarist to do the same, rather than resorting to the technical crutches of harp-like open strings.

Finally, let us not forget, the purpose of having “more bass range” (for playing lute or keyboard music) is to be, in our capacity as guitarists, more faithful to the composer’s musical Ideas—to approach a more formally and stylistically accurate representation of these Ideas—than is possible on the 6-string guitar. If a 10-string guitar does this, while also offering the extended interpretative possibilities of chromatic resonance—the possibility of more rounded phrasing, greater sustain and cohesion, extended dynamic range, greater evenness of timbre, the possibility of playing slow pieces at an appropriately slow tempo without running out of sound, and other interpretative subtleties (think of the benefits of the piano’s various pedals)—then the existence of the 10-string guitar on the world concert stage is fully justified, even [dare I say?] as the Standard. (It has the potential.) However, if a 10-stringed guitar is used for neither of these purposes—when that uroboric telos of extra basses merely for the sake of extra basses rears its ugly head—...well, this is, after all, the general misconception that the guitar world holds about the instrument—and the reason why (despite being promoted by great players like Yepes and Schmidt, or in another incarnation, by Carulli, Mertz, Regondi, Coste et al.) the instrument itself remains in the margins of the margins.

Viktor van Niekerk, Sydney
I think you need to calm down, Victor. If other people like another tuning on their 10-string besides what you obviously feel very strongly about, that's okay. The results is what counts. So far between you and the person's post you responded to (Jouni), I have only heard his recordings on the 10-string (BWV 998 PFA available to listen to here and Kellner on his sound click site), both using a Stephan Schmidt tuning. It's mind-blowing. It would tend to confirm that the tuning he uses works, and works incredibly well. I'm sure the Yepes tuning works well in certain contexts, too. Why can't you like more than one thing? Why reject other possible tunings? You come across as an incredibly intollerant person about this subject.

Soltirefa

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Jouni Stenroos
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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:09 am

Viktor,

You know a lot about Yepes and the 10-string, there is no doubt of that. I have read your writings in 10-string group, and also the Wikipedia article (which I assumed to be your work right from the beginning), and there has always been a lot of good information. But have you wondered why you get attacked on your writings? It's not about the facts, you write very carefully and avoid giving false information. No, the reason is in what you do not say, and what can be read between the lines. Your personal admiration on Yepes and his work is clouding your objectivity as a researcher. I admit that the Wikipedia article alone in its current form is very good. That is unfortunately clouded by things you have said in 10-string group and Wikipedia discussion area (and now here). The happenings behind the lines in Wikipedia tell a lot. (No, I have not taken part in those happenings). The article is disputed, and with a good reason.
viktor wrote:Let us also bear in mind that the ‘opinion’ (that resonance linearized over the chromatic octave has interpretative advantages and therefore aesthetic significance) is an ‘opinion’ that has been shared by a number of highly respected musical figures, persons with significant experience, who’ve been highly trained and/or possess a high degree of knowledge/skill, including the late Bruno Maderna and Maurice Ohana.
A completely empty statement. The amount of aesthetical advantage and significance it has is a personal opinion. A few people think it has a lot. Many many guitarists do not consider it significant at all. Highly trained, possessed with a high degree of skill and knowledge people all of them. What makes those people you refer to more important than the rest. Is the improvement so big that the Yepes 10-string guitar is completely different instrument as you say. That is again an opinion and I do not agree. It's based on your own conclusions only. My opinion is that the difference between 6-string guitars of different makers has a bigger effect on the sound than merely just evening out the chromatic resonances. In my opinion, the Yepes tuning does sound good, but the effect is subtle. The conclusion is based on the fact that I've played with Yepes tuning on both a good traditional fan braced 10-string guitar, and on a more modern LRS 10-string guitar. And I still play occasionally, because I like the subtle effect.
In contrast, a statement such as “Many 10-string players prefer more bass range over the resonances” is recourse not to authority, but to majority. It is an argumentum ad populum, a fallacy of logic that states Truth is the opinion of the majority, or Truth is what the masses believe. (Another eyeless uroboric worm devours its own backside.)
Authority? What is it, and how do you become an authority, may I ask? Not by any chance having enough supporters for your ideas?
In addition, this argument also contradicts its author’s previous statement that the “[f]acts are straight”. [Now I’m being facetious, but let’s see it through.] The fact given (above) as number 2 is that Yepes’s 10-string guitar already offers an extended bass range in addition to chromatic resonance. [This comes straight out of the article in question, which is drawn almost verbatim from Yepes’s own press materials, recital programmes and interviews.] In other words, extended bass range and chromatic resonance (i.e. Yepes Tuning) are not mutually exclusive.
Well, we both know the facts about Bach's Lute Suites. The fact is that even Yepes changed his string setup for some of the suites. I call it a fact simply because his recordings are a proof (yes, I bought the recordings after our conversation in the Yahoo list) Probably he switched 8th string for a low bass (a guess, not a fact). Stephan Schmidt went further, and changed 9th, too (*), and was able to play the whole range down to G1, while Yepes limited his transcriptions to A1. This is a simple proof that modern tuning does not solve all our problems. In addition, the evenly distributed chromatic resonances cease to exist the exact same moment you use scordaturas on any string.

*) The Stephan Schmidt tunings that were posted in 10-string group are second hand information, and are not confirmed by Stephan himself.
On a more practical level: if one has a correctly built instrument (Ramirez or Bernabe), and one uses a correctly manufactured 7th string (that is to say the 7th by Aranjuez and not LaBella or Hannabach), and one lowers the 7th or C string to B1 or A1 [in Helmholtz notation, not American], and one has a technique approaching [or surpassing?] that of Yepes, then one ought to be able to have access to the full extended bass range, without completely re-stringing the instrument. Though one would, like Yepes, have to finger many of the additional low bass notes. It is, after all, expected of any 6-string guitarist to do the same, rather than resorting to the technical crutches of harp-like open strings.
You imply that Ramirez and Bernabe are/were the only luthiers that are able to build correctly resonating 10-string instruments? I'm sorry, this one lowered your points in my eyes. You really do not seem to be able to see clearly outside of your research and passion.

Finally, a comment on your afterthought where you say:
What strikes me is that no one is self-reflexive enough to ask why 'intollerant' arguments against chromatic resonance should be acceptable, while the opposite is not.
Intolerant arguments against chromatic resonance????? Where? By whom? My intolerant arguments are directed towards your intolerant arguments, not towards chromatic resonance itself. Can't you see it?

Jouni Stenroos, Espoo, Finland
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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:39 am

Viktor,

One more comment on your facts:
Even guitarist Stephan Schmidt, whatever tuning he may have used to record Bach (and I emphasise the difference between recording and live performance), without any doubt, predominantly uses the Yepes tuning of the 10-string guitar in concert.
You back up your facts with information like this? You claim that Stephan predominantly uses the Yepes tuning of the 10-string guitar in concert. Have you really asked Stephan, or is this based only on your conclusions that it is too difficult to carry more than one guitar while on the road? I remember when this was discussed in 10-string group.

Perfectly valid options would have been

- Concerts with music for 6-string and Bach with 10-string with the special tunings (had 2 guitars)
- Concerts with Bach only and with special tunings. (had 1 guitar)
- Concerts with Bach with 10-string and other music for 10-string with modern tuning (had 2 10-string guitars)

Didn't you consider these possibilities at all? Carrying 2 guitars on tour is nothing unusual. Some guitarists do that merely because of backup purposes.

Further on, do you have any concert programs from Yepes that have whole Bach lute suites other than BWV996, along with other music that requires the modern tuning?

-Jouni
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viktor van niekerk

Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by viktor van niekerk » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:21 am

jounis wrote:do you have any concert programs from Yepes that have whole Bach lute suites other than BWV996, along with other music that requires the modern tuning?

-Jouni

Yes, Jouni:


27 April 1968: University Great Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa

J.S. Bach: Suite de Bruxelles BWV995
alongside...
Ernesto Halffter: Madrigal
Maurice Ohana: Tiento
Antonio Ruiz-Pipó: Five Pieces for 10-String Guitar

October 25, 1985: The Met, NY

Bach: Suite in A minor BWV 995
alongside...
Peris: Elegia para Gisela

1973: hodin, Dvořákova síň Rudolfina

Johann Sebastian Bach: Svita e moll, BWV 996
alongside...
Mauricio Ohana: Tiento
Bruno Maderna: Y Después
Leonardo Balada: Analogías

3 March 1975, Queen Elizabeth Hall

BWV1000
BWV1006a [complete]

28 Mar & 4 Apr 1976, Queen Elizabeth Hall
BWV996
Maderna: Y despues

22 April 1974, Queen Elizabeth Hall
Bach, Ohana and Maderna


I could go on, but it is redundant. You forget I studied with a long-term student of Yepes (who had frequent contact since 1960) and what I say is not based on opinion but 1) knowledge in the public domain, 2) a more complete, direct oral tradition, 3) manuscript sources (including autograph documents showing Yepes’s own fingering for Baroque lute works) that are not available to the public. [Incidentally, I know individuals who have attended all-Bach recitals by Yepes. You can also refer to Yepes's interview in Soundboard in which he clearly says that he has no need for any instrument aside from his own type of 10-string guitar - he even has a 13-string guitar tuned exactly like the lute "sleeping" at home because he doesn't need it. He also mentions recording the complete Bach lute works on his 14-course lute and how he had to perform them the same night on the 10-string guitar, with a completely different tuning from the lute.]

Your opinion that Yepes could have used multiple instruments for the same recital (or restrung his instrument in order to play lute music) is mistaken.

Beyond this I haven’t the time for further debate (nor the desire for recourse to personal attacks or to respond to such); I have a PhD dissertation to write. What needed to be said has been said in my initial post.

Viktor van Niekerk

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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:12 am

Your opinion that Yepes could have used multiple instruments for the same recital (or restrung his instrument in order to play lute music) is mistaken.
Well, that was about Stephan Schmidt, not Yepes. And you didn't address him at all in your answer. Be more careful when you read other's writings.

And thanks about those Yepes programs, they are interesting. I didn't suspect that he had used any other string setup in concerts, I just was curious on which suites did he actually perform live as whole with modern tuning.

-Jouni
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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by soltirefa » Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:25 am

My feeling is that the 10-string should sound better or offer something that isn't available on the 6-string. I have never heard a recording where I thought the sympathetic resonances of the Yepes tuning sounded better than a 6-string. Compare, for example, these two interpretations of the same piece. Which do you like better (not that this in THE determining case, but at least it's an example I could find).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWYN14BcV7U

OR

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2ZsaUIq ... re=related

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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by David Norton » Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:04 pm

soltirefa wrote:My feeling is that the 10-string should sound better or offer something that isn't available on the 6-string. I have never heard a recording where I thought the sympathetic resonances of the Yepes tuning sounded better than a 6-string. Compare, for example, these two interpretations of the same piece. Which do you like better (not that this in THE determining case, but at least it's an example I could find).
It's the same piece, but a true comparison is difficult due to the very different contexts. Yepes is performing in a big auditorium with a huge audience (whose body-mass absorbs some of the sound-waves), whereas Yamashita is in a smaller hall and no audience, plus he has closer miking and also was likely recorded using more recent technology.

DN
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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:38 pm

David_Norton wrote:
soltirefa wrote:My feeling is that the 10-string should sound better or offer something that isn't available on the 6-string. I have never heard a recording where I thought the sympathetic resonances of the Yepes tuning sounded better than a 6-string. Compare, for example, these two interpretations of the same piece. Which do you like better (not that this in THE determining case, but at least it's an example I could find).
It's the same piece, but a true comparison is difficult due to the very different contexts. Yepes is performing in a big auditorium with a huge audience (whose body-mass absorbs some of the sound-waves), whereas Yamashita is in a smaller hall and no audience, plus he has closer miking and also was likely recorded using more recent technology.

DN
It wouldn't be very difficult to make a simple comparison recording. A 10-string guitar with romantic tuning, same guitar with modern tuning and same guitar with extra basses damped or removed. Maybe I'll do such recordings some day, I have good recording gear and the instrument. Naturally, my guitar isn't made by an approved luthier, so the results can't be considered valid... :roll:

-Jouni
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viktor van niekerk

Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by viktor van niekerk » Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:57 pm

jounis wrote:Well, we both know the facts about Bach's Lute Suites. The fact is that even Yepes changed his string setup for some of the suites. I call it a fact simply because his recordings are a proof (yes, I bought the recordings after our conversation in the Yahoo list)
On the contrary, Jouni:

Ana Yepes (in a personal communication, 9 April 2008) categorically confirms what I have always stated:

"Concerning the tuning of the strings for Bach's Suites, you are right, the standard tuning is: 7th string is C (an octave lower then the C of the bottom aditional line in G clef), 8th string is B flat (a minor 7th higher then the 7th string), 9th string is A flat, 10th string is G flat. For some pieces, the 7th would be B natural, for pieces in A minor, the 7th would be in A. The 10th also has some changes. Sometimes he also retuned the 7th string in-between movements of the same piece."

So, the fact is actually that Yepes did not need to change his 'string setup' to play Bach or baroque lute music and that as far as possible he used the standard tuning of C2, Bb2, Ab2, Gb2. If scordatura was necessary - as on a 6-string guitar - some string/s could be mistuned, but could just as easily be returned to the standard tuning for the next piece. However, changing the strings was not required. Changing the strings makes it impossible to have the standard tuning, and without the standard tuning there cannot be consistency of the envelopes of all twelve semi-tones - which is the primary purpose of the modern 10-string guitar. While it is true that there are more significant differences in sustain or volume between a good 6-string guitar and a bad one, this does not discount the fact that even a great 6-string guitar still has inconsistent envelopes because some notes played induce resonance on adjacent strings while others do not. This imbalance may be subtle (to the ears of some - to others it is unbearable), but music is an art of subtleties and it is often the slightest nuance that makes the difference between a good performance and a great one. So to state that the resonance makes only a 'subtle' difference is hardly reason to consider it a trivial matter.

Since wrong information (like the belief that Yepes used some sort of "baroque" tuning for Bach, or that the strings C-Bb-Ab-Gb supposedly add only 'four' missing resonances) seems to be in almost every article, web page and discussion group, I am now working on several projects in various media that endeavour to bring to the public more reliable and scholarly information on all matters related to the modern 10-string guitar. Some of these projects will come to fruition in a matter of months while others will require some years of research in the Yepes archives.

For the moment, there are some of my old web log postings here: http://www.myspace.com/tenstringguitar

Regards,

Viktor van Niekerk

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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:32 am

viktor van niekerk wrote:
jounis wrote:Well, we both know the facts about Bach's Lute Suites. The fact is that even Yepes changed his string setup for some of the suites. I call it a fact simply because his recordings are a proof (yes, I bought the recordings after our conversation in the Yahoo list)
On the contrary, Jouni:

Ana Yepes (in a personal communication, 9 April 2008) categorically confirms what I have always stated:

"Concerning the tuning of the strings for Bach's Suites, you are right, the standard tuning is: 7th string is C (an octave lower then the C of the bottom aditional line in G clef), 8th string is B flat (a minor 7th higher then the 7th string), 9th string is A flat, 10th string is G flat. For some pieces, the 7th would be B natural, for pieces in A minor, the 7th would be in A. The 10th also has some changes. Sometimes he also retuned the 7th string in-between movements of the same piece."
Unfortunately, Ana is wrong, as far as the recording goes. The evidence is all there in the recording, Yepes couldn't have played with only 1 low bass. BWV 1006a prelude, low A, B and C#1, clearly played on open strings, in places where fretting the B or C# on 7th A1 is impossible. BWV995 Gavotte 1 in the last phrase the low basses C, D, E, A1 ring simultaneously. I don't have a slightest doubt on this. But what I find interesting, is what tunings he actually used. In BWV998 and BWV997 he evidently used capo, but a good question is whether it was a full capo on all 10 strings or just a partial capo, leaving some or all extra bass strings free.

Instead of trying to gather contrary evidence to be able to present the facts as you wish they were, why don't you put more effort on this recording, it is clearly an exception on Yepes' career, he changed the string setup to be able to play the Bach more as it was written.

-Jouni
Learn Finnish, part 1:
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viktor van niekerk

Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by viktor van niekerk » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:09 pm

jounis wrote: Unfortunately, Ana is wrong, as far as the recording goes. The evidence is all there in the recording, Yepes couldn't have played with only 1 low bass.
Well, then there is just no pleasing you. But unfortunately Yepes could play baroque lute music with only one low bass. I also know another 10-string guitarist (a student of Schmidt) who plays the Bach lute works with the standard string setup independent of any Yepes influence. (Besides, if he did what you claim, why did he not do it consistently? For BWV 997 the lowest string is C2, so why does he not add another low string instead of making some small changes in a few measures that originally have basses below C2? Yepes, who was a stickler for consistency.) It is amazing what some technique and intelligent fingering can do. (Yepes was able to bring the LH thumb to the front of the fingerboard like a cellist or bass player to do some "impossible" stretches.)

Have you ever stopped to consider that what you perceive as basses sounding together could be an illusion created by the sustaining effect of resonance or an echo of the particularly hollow-sounding recording space that Yepes favoured?

Besides, we've been through this. Yepes performed the Bach lute works in recital in combination with modern 10-string works that cannot be performed any other way than with the standard tuning. You will probably say he used multiple instruments, but this also is untrue. (A near-blind man who must give an average of 130 performances each year on six continents does not travel with multiple instruments.) My teacher, who happened to have studied with Yepes from 1960, witnessed Yepes having to borrow Godelieve Monden's guitar because Paulino Bernabe had done some strange experiment on his own guitar during a routine service resulting in a sound that displeased Yepes. This was in Europe and obviously if Yepes travelled with more than one guitar he would not have had to borrow Godelieve's to do the concert. The same teacher of mine also witnessed Yepes playing all-Bach recitals. In addition, Yepes also had a 13-stringed guitar. Why didn't he just use this for the Bach recording? (In an interview in Soundboard he says he never uses it because his 10-string guitar is totally sufficient.) (And didn't someone on the 10string yahoo group mention going up to Yepes once after a recital in New York to ask him what his tunings are and that he said basically the same as the quote of his daughter I gave above?)

Anyway, Ismael Barambio is in the process of editing more of the Yepes editions for publication by Schott. Next year I will go to Madrid to begin research in the Yepes archives. So the actual documents will eventually be made public, one way or another.

Regards,
Viktor van Niekerk

PS. I would be careful about claims of "play[ing] the Bach more as it was written." Did Bach 'intend' for basses to continue to sound? Most guitarists do this, but they disregard all those rests that Bach meticulously wrote in - not for nothing. And what about the violin, cello or keyboard versions of some of these same works? They are also 'written' by Bach, but 'written' differently, with shorter note values for the bass notes. So which 'writing' of Bach is the 'authentic' one? Really, we are dealing here with music, not with texts.

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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:51 pm

viktor van niekerk wrote:
jounis wrote: Unfortunately, Ana is wrong, as far as the recording goes. The evidence is all there in the recording, Yepes couldn't have played with only 1 low bass.
Well, then there is just no pleasing you. But unfortunately Yepes could play baroque lute music with only one low bass.
There is no doubt of that, baroque lute music can be played with only one low bass. It can be played even on a 6-string guitar... And there is nothing unfortunate in it. But I am talking only about this one recording, wasn't it already obvious? The notes he plays in this recording cannot be played with only one extra bass string.
I also know another 10-string guitarist (a student of Schmidt) who plays the Bach lute works with the standard string setup independent of any Yepes influence. (Besides, if he did what you claim, why did he not do it consistently? For BWV 997 the lowest string is C2, so why does he not add another low string instead of making some small changes in a few measures that originally have basses below C2? Yepes, who was a stickler for consistency.) It is amazing what some technique and intelligent fingering can do. (Yepes was able to bring the LH thumb to the front of the fingerboard like a cellist or bass player to do some "impossible" stretches.)
This student if Schmidt, what you are trying to prove? I can still hear the extra basses in this recording. In BWV 1006a and BWV995 the lowest note is A1, and there are open strings for the notes between that and the 6th string. BWV 997 is the trickiest one to analyze because of the key. He evidently has a capo on third. But I guess that is something you wouldn't accept even in your wildest dreams....
Have you ever stopped to consider that what you perceive as basses sounding together could be an illusion created by the sustaining effect of resonance or an echo of the particularly hollow-sounding recording space that Yepes favoured?
I can perfectly well tell the difference. Evidently you refuse to hear what he really plays in this recording. Why?

-Jouni
Learn Finnish, part 1:
ice-cream cornet: jäätelötötterö

viktor van niekerk

Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by viktor van niekerk » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:32 pm

jounis wrote:I can perfectly well tell the difference. Evidently you refuse to hear what he really plays in this recording.-Jouni
I'm sorry, Jouni, but you are the one who refuses to accept what is really happening. I take your example of BWV 995, the last phrase of the Gavotte I. You say the C2, D2, E2, A2 and A1 sound together.

Have you ever stopped to consider any other alternatives? I can think of various alternatives without resorting to the explanation of added low strings. (And for what? These basses are perfectly playable with the standard string setup.)

It seems you have not considered:

(7) A1, (6) D2, (10) E2
(7) A1, (6) E2, (10) D2

Both tunings that give the overlapping effect you point out in the Gavotte I.

As for BWV 1006a, the Prelude: the basses are all playable on (7) A1 and can be held to sustain. The only remotely implausible moment is mm. 123-124 - the somewhat awkward stretch between B1 (string 7, fret II, finger 1) and B4 (string 1, fret VII, finger 4), with the 4th finger sliding down to A#4, followed by the 3rd finger on G#4 (in semiquavers). This is difficult but well within my own facility (and my reference is the fingerboard of a Ramirez, which is about a 664mm scale length, if I recall correctly). So I have no doubt whatsoever that this was perfectly within the capacity of Yepes with his incredible technique and a Bernabe guitar (which is a more player-friendly instrument than mine).

Regards,
Viktor

PS. With regard to BWV 995, in the Sarabande one can tell clearly from the timbre or tone colour which basses are 'fretted'. Observe mm. 12-15; D2, C2, B1 are all on the same string. From the envelopes we can also tell there is a fraction of a second of 'silence' between each, so they are not on adjacent strings, but one string.

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Re: Curious about the 10-string guitars

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:26 pm

viktor van niekerk wrote:
jounis wrote:I can perfectly well tell the difference. Evidently you refuse to hear what he really plays in this recording.-Jouni
I'm sorry, Jouni, but you are the one who refuses to accept what is really happening. I take your example of BWV 995, the last phrase of the Gavotte I. You say the C2, D2, E2, A2 and A1 sound together.

Have you ever stopped to consider any other alternatives? I can think of various alternatives without resorting to the explanation of added low strings. (And for what? These basses are perfectly playable with the standard string setup.)

It seems you have not considered:

(7) A1, (6) D2, (10) E2
(7) A1, (6) E2, (10) D2

Both tunings that give the overlapping effect you point out in the Gavotte I.

As for BWV 1006a, the Prelude: the basses are all playable on (7) A1 and can be held to sustain. The only remotely implausible moment is mm. 123-124 - the somewhat awkward stretch between B1 (string 7, fret II, finger 1) and B4 (string 1, fret VII, finger 4), with the 4th finger sliding down to A#4, followed by the 3rd finger on G#4 (in semiquavers). This is difficult but well within my own facility (and my reference is the fingerboard of a Ramirez, which is about a 664mm scale length, if I recall correctly). So I have no doubt whatsoever that this was perfectly within the capacity of Yepes with his incredible technique and a Bernabe guitar (which is a more player-friendly instrument than mine).

Regards,
Viktor
BWV 1006a, Prelude.

In bars 123-124, listen to the string crossings in the upper voice. It's clear that he does not use the fingering you suggested.

In bars 100-105 the C#2 rings in full length in every bar. While you can find theoretical fingerings for that by keeping a full barre on 4th fret, again, the string crossings in the upper voice prove otherwise.

BWV 995, Prelude:

Bar 16-17 is interesting. First, in bar 16 he plays trill and the following F on 1st string. Doing that with 2nd finger fretting the B1 is far from trivial. But it doesn't end here, the B1 leaves ringing to the next bar together with the following C2, causing the "vibrato" or "pumping" effect when two low notes so close each other ring together.

Your suggestions on the Gavotte ending leave out the C2 note, which can be heard there ringing.

-Jouni
Learn Finnish, part 1:
ice-cream cornet: jäätelötötterö

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