Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
Forum Statistics

184,608 users have contributed to 42,366 threads and 255,351 posts.

In the past 24 hours, we have 1 new thread(s), 7 new post(s) and 70 new user(s).

  • Sul tasto...

    Hi again,

    A different question requires a different post, I figure, so here goes: I dearly miss the "sul tasto" expression in Orchestral and Chamber Strings. It is a very common technique. Why are they omitted, and is there an update scheduled to add them...?

    Thank you in advance,

    Alex


  • The sul tasto articulations are called flautando in the Orchestral Strings. I think it is a little confusing, given that they're called sul tasto in the Solo Strings. I'm not sure if the Chamber Strings have sul tasto at all as I'm not an owner of that library.

    http://vsl.co.at/en/70/3189/3190/5624.vsl

    Martin


  • Thank you Martin.

    But as I understand, sul tasto and flautando are different techniques?

    I suspect however that difference in sound is probably very small; I checked our good friend mr Adler, and he says:

    sul tasto: on the fingerboard

     flautando: near, but not on the fingerboard

    The difference is really minimal, and many composers make no distinction between the two terms.

    Adler, second edition, p 35

    Still, it is a different technique , hence the confusion.

    As for Chamber Strings: no, they have neither sul tasto, neither flautando.

    I'm really wondering if the Strings will still be expanded, but VSL will probably not give a clue until they actually do it...

    Correct me if I'm wrong, VSL-people [:D]

    Cheers,

    Alex


  •  Sul tasto and flautando are very different techniques, but they are often interchangeable to most composers. You can't really play sul tasto without playing flautando, but the opposite is not true.

    Flautando has nothing to do with position relative to the fingerboard.

    DG


  • Well apologies on my part for getting it wrong - that'll teach me to be wary of trusting what I read in the Vienna Academy!

    M


  • last edited
    last edited

    @DG said:

    Flautando has nothing to do with position relative to the fingerboard.

    Sounds logical indeed... just what I thought at first: flautando is playing really really quiet, almost like a gently whistling wind...

    Sul tasto says it literally: it's about playing on the fingerboard.

    So I'll tell mr Adler to get his "near the fingerboard" removed [H]

    Thanks for your input, DG

    Alex


  • last edited
    last edited

    @mosso said:

    Well apologies on my part for getting it wrong - that'll teach me to be wary of trusting what I read in the Vienna Academy!

    No need to apologize, it's your reply that led us to the answer after all!

    Cheers,

    Alex


  • last edited
    last edited

    @mosso said:

    that'll teach me to be wary of trusting what I read in the Vienna Academy!

    Hang on... yes, they got that wrong. Perhaps not a bad idea to correct this, dear VSL-friends:

    Sul tasto

    The bow makes contact with the string near the fingerboard. The nearer the fingerboard the string is bowed the weaker and softer the sound. The number of partials decreases. The effect is a muffled and flute-like sound (the technique is often also called flautando ).

    (on the fingerboard)


  • last edited
    last edited

    @DG said:

    Flautando has nothing to do with position relative to the fingerboard.

    So I'll tell mr Adler to get his "near the fingerboard" removed

    Thanks for your input, DG

    Alex

    With all due respect to Adler, he was probably never a Professor of Violin at a London Conservatoire. [;)]

    It is certainly correct that flautando is most often played near the fingerboard, but when played near the bridge it gives a really unworldly almost ghostly sound, which can be very useful.

    AFAIK the term flautando originates in trying to sound like a flute, in order to give a breathy quality. However, it is usually used these days as a kind of floaty bowing.

    DG


  • last edited
    last edited

    @DG said:

    With all due respect to Adler, he was probably never a Professor of Violin at a London Conservatoire

    Wow, both Samuel Adler as well as the Vienna Academy stand corrected by this little post. And to think I got out in one piece [8-|]

    And so we found another expression to add to the Strings Part III: Flautando sul ponti !

    I think I have never heard this sound, is it close to a very light sul ponticello...?

    Alex


  • I'd love to hear a flautando sul ponticello - especially so given DG's comments describing it. DG - can you point us to a composition that uses it?

    Martin


  • last edited
    last edited

    @mosso said:

    I'd love to hear a flautando sul ponticello - especially so given DG's comments describing it. DG - can you point us to a composition that uses it?

    Martin

     

    Not specifically, because as I said it's not usually marked this way. However, it gives a much more breathy sound than the normal sul pont, so next time you are on a session when you want something other than trem played sul pont, try it out. It tends to be the sort of thing that you would ask for as a conductor, rather than write as a composer, I would imagine.

    DG


  • As far as I know, flautando is an Italianish word for "flute-like", meaning the string instrument should play airy and breathy like a flute. To do this, you have to be very light on the strings, therefore bowing very fast to produce a sound. I don't know of a particular position to do this, but I guess there are positions safer than others, to avoid only ending up with the rosin's sound.

    I remember having discussed this articulation during a workshop, but I couldn't be more precise. Maybe adding it in the initial legenda would be safer.

    In the past, at least in Italy, someone even used flautando to say harmonics. I think this is a simple misunderstanding, since while harmonics require light pressure from the fingers, they are not necessarily airy and breathy.

    Paolo


  • This confusion results from different historical uses of flautando and how it has become associated with sul tasto. In the past flautando was a general term for the feeling of a flute-like sound, not a specific direction of how to get it.  Sul tasto is a specific direction and not subject to the same interpretation.   Musical terms have in many cases vast long histories, and often are even contradictory.  

    For example, Cecil Forsyth, in "Orchestration" writes: "...the natural harmonics have a light "flutey" quality... they are commonly known on the Continent as "flageolet notes" and their use is often prescribed by the words flautato or flautando..."  So at one point in history that is exactly what flautando meant - harmonics.  Totally different from the "flautando" that VSL sampled in the Orchestral strings which is not harmonics, but rather playing nearer or even above the fingerboard to give a more delicate and "feathery" sound.


  • Sul tasto -

    Unable to find anything that really demonstrates flautando as well as the Sul Tasto video above (there is a video but the person doing the video doesnt really play all that well).

    With flautando, you play with the bow right on the edge of the finger board.

    With Sul tasto, you play usually with the bow anywhere from 20,30% up the fingerboard (split the fingerboard in four even quarters in your mind, put the bow about 25% up the fingerboard). HOWEVER, realize that Sul tasto CAN involve placing the bow ANYWHERE on the fingerboard (as long as it is not at the bottom, at the bottom it is specifically called flautando). In fact, one composer I know likes Sul tasto to be played with the bow ABOVE the fingers (up near the tuning knobs at the top of the instrument.

    Flautando creates a flute like sound and should be played with a wide and fast bow movement, utlizing as much of the bow length as possible and a full stroke occuring every second to second and a half. It is often used to emulate the sound of a flute when flutes are not available (we had one of our violinists play a flute solo when our flutist was a no show back in high school).

    Sul tasto creates a more haunting and airy / ethereal sound and should be played with wide bow strokes but slightly slower than flautando, a stroke every 2 seconds or so.

    With both techniques, it is important for bow movements between each stroke to be kept exceptionally smooth (more so that usual) such that the elbow should not move. If not, you will get a scratchy sound. It is harder to get a natural and smooth sound with both of these techniques because the string has less area to 'ring' or vibrate freely.

    I hope this helps. Its probably more than you wanted to know about this...


  • That is simply one current use of the term - sul tasto originally meant the same as sur la touche, and was specifically a direction of where to play.  Flautando as I said was not a direction of where to play, but a general feel to the sound which at one point included harmonics.  However musicians today interpret things at rehearsals is not necessarily the same as the original meaning of the terms.


  • I am obsessing over this because right now I am trying too do an orchestration, and having a lot of trouble, that uses strings only which originally had more instruments including voices,  and I am racking my brains how to get certain effects of those other instruments without totally compromising.  This includes of course flautando, sul tasto and harmonics! 


  • last edited
    last edited

    Today I was talking to a cellist who was saying that sul tasto is simply the direction for position of bowing, whereas flautando is mainly a very delicate sound that can be bowed anywhere.  He was saying basically you can play flautando anywhere you want, even ponticello, though it usually is not notated beyond just one of the terms.   So that a marking pp sul tasto would indicate something like flautando sul tasto since flautando is always rather soft and delicate but can be bowed anywhere.

    Hey Herb!  Why don't you chime in???  You're the expert times two on all this.  Sample library creator AND cellist.  I know - too busy...  😢