Göttweig Suite 3

Alternative readings of the text of the complete Gottweig edition

Suite 3

Jan. 14, 2017

This Suite especially interests me, because it appears to be integral. By integral I mean, that all of these movements belong together. They are all clearly related to one another motivically and harmonically, to the point that they are nearly variations one of another. Moreover, all the essential movements of a suite, allemand, courante saraband, giga, are included.

In the Critical notes in the edition, the editor says that the “tuning chord shows just five notes.” However, very close scrutiny of the tuning chord given in the manuscript reveals the low f# resting on the ‘a’ of Allemand. See for yourself:


Like all the other works in the manuscript, the suite is for 6 string vda. The tuning chord of 6 notes is also entirely in close position, i.e., there are no fifths between any neighbour strings.

This suite is also an example of the use of gamba grip notation, or, a scordatura based on bass gamba fingerings, for the lowest 5 strings, sometimes all 6 strings. The upper 4 strings mainly use violin fingerings, as do so many other works for the vda in the 17th and 18th centuries, although in a couple places even notes on the top string are written in gamba grip, for example, the first chord in the Aria. The other suites in the edition that use this gamba grip approach to notation are the first movement of 14, all of 17, 18, 21, and what the editor calls suite 23, which is extra interesting because I find it to be the only example in the manuscript to show some modification after copying. In the case of Suite 23 the basso part was transposed down a half step to f#, in my opinion the original was in g minor, fitting in the the other works in g in the end of the manuscript.

Until the discovery of the Göttweig viola d'amore manuscript, there were very few known vda works that used gamba grip notation.

I suggest transposing this work to a minor will save on substituting strings for the 5th and 6th strings.



The Allemand and the Courrente are both missing their original bass parts. The bass part for the Allemand is supplied by the editors. The bass part for the Courrente is taken from the Double. Usually this would be identical, but in this case I find the bass part suits the Double better than it suits the Courrente, and would consider making some minor adjustments to make the basso part fit the Courrente better.

Bar 1 beat 1, vda scordatura. In my opinion, the chord in the edition is incorrect, just as it is in the manuscript. I suggest the second note from the bottom should be a written c. The chord on beat 3 of bar 2 should be the same.

Bar 7 vda, beat 3 is a unison d’’/d’’ in the manuscript, which works.

Bar 9 vda, I suggest consider tying beat 3 to beat 4, parallel to bar 2 and 5.

Bar 10 vda scordatura  beat 2, the second note of the beat is a step lower than in the manuscript.

Bar 14, first time bar, vda scordatura, in the edition an alto clef is missing before final note.


Bar 1, 2, 5, 6, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 27. In the manuscript where there are 3 8th notes in a row in these bars,  the three 8th notes are beamed together.

Bar 8 vda. the player might want to consider adding a 4 3 suspension to the lower voice; it is worked out that way in the double.


Bar 25 Vda part. in the manuscript the chord and the a are beamed together as 8th notes. Given that the Double has the same two notes as 8th notes, I suggest playing the dotted eighth 32nds as a dotted quarter followed by two 16ths, to fill beats 2 and 3 of the bar. I suggest trilling on the dotted quarter.

Bar 27 vda part. the first part as it is written in the scordatura part actually sounds b', but the version in the edition reads better, and is confirmed by the same bar in the double.

bar 28 basso, the a# on beat three is correct, but is editorial.


Bar 8 vda the first two beats are beamed together.

bar 11 vda. the eighth notes are beamed in groups of 2 and 4.

bar 18  vda real notation beat 2 e a, not d a . In this bar all notes are beamed together, as they also are in bars 23 and 25.


Bar 3 vda. beat 1 I suggest playing the same chord as 2 bars earlier.

Bar 6 vda real notation beat 1 the upper note of the double stop is a sounding d’’

Bar 9 vda scordatura the middle note of the chord on beat three is a written d.

Bar 11 vda scordatura, I suggest the note on beat 2 should be a written “c’’

Bar 14 vda scordatura the 4th 8th note should be written a step higher.

Bar 16 I suggest the chord on beat 2 should be the same as two bars later.


In my opinion, the movement is in 3/4, or maybe in 6/4, not in 3/2.

Bar 4 vda scordatura, beat 2, the written f' has a # on it in the manuscript.


Bar 9 Basso. the d of the edition is a d# in the manuscript, as it is in the parallel passage, esp. bar 20, of the Giugz. Consequently the vda part needs to be adjusted so the descending scale in the bar has a d# in it. The third note can read as a high 2nd finger c# instead of an open top string.


Bar 11 vda. I suggest playing e’’ with the 3rd finger on the 2nd strings on both beat 3 and at the top of the chord on beat 4.


Bar 7 vda scordatura beat 1 the lower note of the double stop is a written c.


Bar 13 vda beat 2. the edition agrees with the manuscript, however, the lower note is larger than the upper, and I think it quick copying fix, that of the two notes the b is the one intended.