Göttweig Suite 17

Alternative readings of the text of the complete Gottweig edition

Suite 17

Dec. 8, 2016

This is an interesting example of accordatura that uses violin fingerings for the top 4 strings (with alto clef, no, I still have no idea why) and gamba fingerings for the bottom 4 strings, sometimes the bottom 5 strings. Yes, there is overlap for the middle a’ f’ d’ strings, which might be confusing. As in the case the 9 line staff in Suite 9, 19 and 24, which increase the number of known examples of that 9 line kind of notation 3 fold, these gamba grip suites 17, 18, and 21, as well as the b minor in vol. 1, greatly increase the number of known examples of this gamba grip notation.

pages 64 - 73 of vol 3 of the complete Göttweig collection.

Prelude - I speculate that the Prelude on pg. 20 of vol. 3 may actually belong musically to Suite 17. My reasons are the common approach to accordatura that uses gamba grip, and the common melodic outlines, esp. the opening rise from the tonic to the 5th degree of the scale. Yes, I concede, this is not the order the music appears in the manuscript. Where it is in the manuscript, however, the movement does not fit in the rest of Suite 14 from the point of view of accordatura, and also lacks a bass part. Furthermore, the lack of flat in the key signature in the Prelude and the presence of it in the other movements in Suite 14 argues against including the Prelude in Suite 14 and for including it in Suite 17.

No definite conclusion can be reached. Let’s hope more sources turn up. In the meantime, I will deal with  Suite 14's Prelude’s textual issues here. Players can chose which movement to play when, just as they like, when they play the music.

Starting with the Allemande, this is one work in d minor which in the manuscript has does have 1 flat in the key signature in both the basso and vda parts.

Prelude (not Preludio as is given in the edition as Suite 14, page 20)

No key signature.

Bar 4 last two notes are c# b natural. Reminder, the basso part is a reconstruction. We have only the vda part.

Bar 6 I don’t know how to interpret the soprano c clef in the middle of this bar. Please let me know your ideas. If I were to play it, I would do what is in the edition but as a d minor scale rather than a d major.

Bar 14 In the manuscript the 2nd and 4th notes are d’’.

Bar 17 scordatura part. In the manuscript the 2nd note from the top of the chord is a b, mostly! but the note head does include the top line and could also be read as an a. Certainly it should sound a’.


Bar 3 vda in the manuscript the f is unison doubled by a F quarter note.

Bar 4. vda In the manuscript the 6th note of the bar is an F flat. One of the entertaining things about using gamba fingerings, is how the composers overcame the shortage of notes between strings. On the normally tuned gamba there is only a 4th between the low d and g strings, but in the d tuning of the vda in this work, there is a fifth. So, how to indicate the third finger without confusing it with the open 5th string? Usually the composers used an F#, but here they used a flat. Maybe any accidental was fine, because it wasn’t a real accidental? For those players aiming to use the original notation in its most consistent form, I suggest an F #, as it is in the manuscript at bar 12 beat 4.

Bar 6 beat 3. In the manuscript the chord is written as it is in the edition, and is wrong. The copyist gets it right in the manuscript at bar 13 beat 3. In both bar 6 and 13 the second note from the top of the chord should look like a g on top space of the bass clef.


Bar 2 vda In the manuscript the chord is c#ega.

Bar 5 basso I suggest dotted half d

Bar 6 basso half note e, quarter f. Basically, if you add a bar of d at bar 5, and use the rest of the notes that are there, ignoring the bar rest, the second phrase works out with the same rhythms as the first phrase.

Bar 7 vda part In the manuscript the chord on the downbeat is dotted quarter cfg, followed by 8th a and quarter b flat. Bar 8 vda scordatura part, beat 2 is a low f half note. Note that there is no bar line in the original. Both the following examples are in bass clef:

The same chord is written again at bar 19, and looks nearly the same, but is slightly clearer:

Bar 11 vda In the manuscript the chord on the downbeat is concert pitch egc# . the d minor chord on the 3rd beat is an 8th note.


Bar 12 basso the third beat is a low A

Bar 14 vda real notation part. the chord is a G major chord.

Guigz Presto in vda part

The Scottish snap rhythms are kind of shocking, as it the odd weak beat resolution at the end of the movement.

Bar 4 vda beat 2. written a gamba open 5th string, sounding A. While the editor finds the notation of the bass clef notes in the vda part inconsistent, as best I can understand they work out 100 %.

Bar 8 vda part. for example, in the manuscript here is written a low f# followed by a g, which is meant to be 3rd finger on the 6th string, followed by the open 5th string. The reverse happens in bar 21. F# for the g on the low d string of the vda is also the first note of bar 11.

bar 9 beat 2 is c# in both parts.

Bar 10.5, a bar needs to be inserted in the bass at this point. the basso is a low dotted half note g. the vda part for bar 10.5 is in bar 11, and should read, concert pitch low g, f’’e’’ d’’.

Bar 11 and 12, vda part. this bar needs to start over the first low A in the basso, and be repeated, to make the two parts come out together. on the repeat the notes of the second half of the bar are d’’ d’.

Here is the whole movement, from the vda part in the manuscript:

It is clear the gamba grip notation was a struggle back then for the copyists, just as it is for us now. For example bar 13, vda part, the second note from the top should look like g in the top space.

These are the essential movements of this Suite. The following movements, Courrante. Gigz, Gavotte. and Menuet. I believe are non-essential, versätze, they are labeled in the following D major suite at the bottom of page 75r in the manuscript. I speculate that versätze indicates the non-essential movements of a suite, I don't know for sure!  I am sure these 4 movements are less musically successful. I could continue with critical notes for these four movements, but I think the player who has followed what I have said up to this point successfully will figure out the rest of the difficulties for herself.