Göttweig Suite 21

Alternative readings of the text of the complete Gottweig edition

Suite 21

Jan 2, 2017


There are two especially notewothy freatures to this Suite. The first is the Gigue, which is an earlier and more viola d'amore like version of the Giga in Ariosti's lesson 6, the other is the very interesing use of harmony that concludes the Chaconne.

This is one of the suites that uses violin fingerings for the top strings, and gamba fingerings for the lowest 5 strings. The other suites that share this notation are Suites 3, the first and last movement of 14, all of 17 and 18. N.B. Notes on the “ gamba g and c” string present a challenge in this notation, because on the bass gamba there is one note, d, between the gamba c string and the e string. However, given the present G tuning, d g d'g'b'd'', where there is a fifth instead of a fourth between the 5th and 4th string, and a fourth instead of a 3rd between the next two strings, more ways of indicating fingers are needed, at which point the notation uses flats and sharps to extend fingerings.

In bar 3 of this example, the ‘b’ is a 2nd finger, in the following bar the ‘b#’ is a 3rd finger, and the ‘b flat’ ooh, that’s tricky, is just cancelling the sharp, so it means the 2nd finger, not the first finger.

This suite exists in two copies in the manuscript, which are very similar to one another, but are not identical. For the gigue there a third source, in Lesson 6 of the Cantatas and Lessons for the viola d’amore, by Attilio Ariosti.


Players wishing to perform this piece a tone lower, as it says in the manuscript, may need to find alternative 5th and 6th strings. But F major may be a good alternative to tuning in G, which may be a challenge for those whose vda’s have Vibrating String Length’s of 370 mm.

Bar 2 basso, beat 2.5, the figure 6 is missing in the edition.  vda beat 4, the lower notes of the double stops are not in copy 2.

Bar 5 vda beat 2 in copy 2 the lower note of the double stops remains a g’ concert. beat 4 In the manuscript the # is missing.

Bar 6 vda beat 1, the e minor chord is confirmed by copy 2. In the manuscript copy 1 beat 2 16th notes are a’’ e’’ a’’ a’’ , in copy 2 beat 2 the notes are a e g a. In copy 2 beat 3 the pitches are as in the edition, but the rhythm is reversed, 2 16ths followed by an eighth.

Bar 7 vda copy 2, the two notes are tied. There are ties enough on the cadences, randomly distributed between both parts in the 2 copies, that I think the player should feel justified if she prefers to tie all the cadences.

Bar 8 vda I suggest tying beats 1 to 2.

Bar 9 vda beat 3 and 4 are beamed together.

Bar 10 vda. copy 2 of the suite has a c’’ for the 4th eighth note, which harmonizes better than the notes in copy 1 or the edition.

Bar 15 basso In copy 1 of the manuscript there is a piano on beat 1, it is on beat 2 of copy 2 in both parts, which I suggest is the more convincing alternative.

Bar 17 vda the two notes are tied in copy 2.


In the manuscript the upbeats  are quarter notes both A and B section in the basso part, and in the A section of the vda part. In copy 2 both vda and basso have an 8th note upbeat to the B section. The player may want to considershotening all the upbeats to all movements.

Bar 2. vda part, both copies. the last 3 notes of the bar are dcb, or, a step lower than in the edition.

Bar 4 real notation part of the edition, the last 3 notes are a tone low.

Bar 6 vda part In copy 1 of the suite the accidental on beat 2 is so unclear that it could, in my opinion, be read as a sharp. In copy 2 it is certainly #. The resulting double stop should sound d#f#, or a third higher than in the real notation score.

Bar 8 vda part the final note is a dotted quarter. In modern terms, the double stop on the 3rd beat should be tied over to the 8th notes with the same pitches on the downbeat of the next bar.

Bar 10 beat 1 I suggest an e minor chord in the basso continuo.

Bar 12 vda the 2 resolution bars are tied together at the end of the A section, the basso resolution bars are tied at the end of the A section in copy 1 and the B section in copy 2. I suggest that all of these 2 bar resolutions may be meant to be tied.

Bar 18 vda. I believe the lowest note of the triple stop was intended to be erased, as it is not in copy 2. The last eighth note in the scordatura line of the edition should be a first finger on the top string, sounding e’’.

Bar 19 vda. In copy 1 the note on beat 2 is a sounding e. This needs to resolve to a d#, although there is another e in the manuscript. The edition follows copy 2, which is a convincing alternative.

Bars 25 and 6. vda. I suggest omitting the top b’ of the chord. The tie in the basso is in copy 2 only, however, as per remarks above, consider tying all these cadences.

Guigz/Giga in Lesson 6

This movement is clearly the basis for the giga in Ariosti’s Lesson 6. To fit this guigz on a violin, for sale to gentlemen amateurs in London, in his Cantatas and Lessons for the viola d’amore, Ariosti had to modify it, reducing the overall range from 2 1/2 octaves to 1 1/2, and replacing nearly completely the closing section from bar 22. He also recomposed the bass line, and extended slightly the cadences. Please see my page where I describe this changes fully.

Bar 4 - 5, basso copy 1 has an alternative bass line as  follows:

Bar 21 basso: This closing passage is not easily repaired. I find the most convincing solution for me is to accept that the final note in the basso bar 21 is d, as in copy 1, and not an e as it is in copy 2.

Bar 22 vda. I cannot find a convincing reading of the notation of the first beat. I think the music has to be a unison g’, and that the written b# in the manuscript, both copies, should be a d#, meaning 3rd finger. (Shrug)

Bar 22 basso. Although both copies of the basso part give the first note as d, I think the note has to be G, as it is when the passage repeats 4 bars later.

Bar 24 basso. I suggest changing the second beat to B, also in bar 28.

Bar 26 basso copy 2 has piano.

Chaconne/Chaconne (copy 1) The basso part is 4 bars long, and says play 7 more times.

Ciaconna/Ciaconna (copy 2) in copy 2 the basso is written out, and includes Harpeggio when the vda part has arpeggiated chords.

This ciaconna is a delightful bit of 17th century brilliance. The octave displacement of dissonant chords in bars 17-24 is nearly modern, and prepares the listener for the concluding variation. The same concluding feature is present in the ciaconna to Suite 19, but without the preparation this present movement exhibits.

The movement presents a challenge for reconstruction, however, due to the inherent difficulties of the gamba grip notation, especially for the final variation, which is realized completely differently here than in the edition.

Bar 1 vda. in copy 2 the 3rd note of the bar is a sounding d’’. I find this the more convincing than the sounding e’’ in copy 1 and in the edition, because with d’’ the contour of the melody follows that of other movements, and there is no skip to a dissonance.

Bar 19 vda. In both copies of the manuscript there is a b/d double stop on beat 1

Bar 20 vda beat 2 in both copies of the manuscript the double stop is written A d#, sounding A f#.

Bar 23 beat 1. in both copies of the manuscript the double stop is b/d, an octave lower than in the real notation part of the edition.

Bar 25 to the end, the Harpeggio passage. “Harpeggio” is indicated in both copies of the vda part, but is absent from the edition.

Maybe the easiest way to show this is to show you a score:


The circled notes do not appear in either copy in the manuscript, but I see no way around playing them. The vda part in bar 27 of the example is original, but it is awkward, as is the final beat of the penultimate bar.

In the next example I give the passage as I play it:


In bar 26 (bar 27 of my score because bar 1 is a accordatura bar not in the edition) I try to make sense of the 3rd finger on the third beat by using the same 3rd finger to play an f# on beats 1 and 2, to make parallel 3rds with the bass during the bar.

Bars 29 to the end. I propose an entirely different reading to what is in the edition. My reading observes all the notes that are in the manuscript, and recognizes that the harmonic treatment is parallel to the conclusion of the ciaconna of Suite 19.

Here is the original of the final 4 bars so you can check my work (copy 1):


In bar 31 of the edition, I play c e g b on the 3rd beat, following the same pattern set in the final bars of Suite 19. This gives the end of this tiny G major suite a bit of the sound of Sibelius. In the last bar, the g’ drone is omitted, which makes the fingering 1 2 2, much easier for getting the fingers not to bump open strings, than if the open g string had to sound in-between the f# and the b.

A similar kind of harmonic climax can be found in the  Corbetta chaconne in C for guitar. Francesco Corbetta (ca.1615-1681), from La guitarre royalle, 1671, dedicated to the Archbishop of Austria.