Göttweig Suite 17

Alternative readings of the text of the complete Gottweig edition

Suite 17

update: May 14, 2017

This is an interesting example of accordatura that uses violin fingerings for the top 4 strings (with alto clef, just as in hundreds of other 18th century works for the viola d'amore. Why alto clef and violin fingerings? 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 Suite 3 b minor in vol. 1, more than double the number of known examples of this gamba grip notation.

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

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


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 isn'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 sounds 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, it seems to me 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.


There are four more movements in this Suite. I have not commented on them, because they seems to me awkward and unmusical, not of the quality of the first 4 movements.