Solo per viola da gamba

by Juhani Nuorvala

Empty sheet

Juhani Nuorvala

Solo per viola da gamba

Fennica Gehrman


As most of my music in recent years, 'Solo per viola da gamba' is written in 'extended just intonation', that is, only pure, un-tempered intervals are used, including those based on the 7th and 11th partial in the harmonic series. I find that this makes possible a beautiful sound world with strongly resonating consonances and fascinating microtones. Subtle and expressive distinctions are possible: for instance, in the Solo, as many as five different sizes of thirds are used instead of the customary two (minor and major).

Technically, the special tuning is achieved by re-tuning the open strings to pure intervals (mostly overtones of the low C); placing the frets - which are movable - to positions corresponding to the desired intervals; and installing small auxiliary frets for some individual notes. This gives some 25 pitches per octave out of which 19 were used (I think).

'Solo per viola da gamba' forms a one-movement arch in which quiet melodies and meditation slowly progress toward motoric passages that may in places be reminiscent of rock music (or is it baroque?). The piece was commissioned by Markku Luolajan-Mikkola who premiered it in Sardinia, 2008.

Juhani Nuorvala




Works for Solo Instrument


Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, viola da gamba, Cagliari, Sardinia, 27 September 2008.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by Markku Luolajan-Mikkola

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