Rach Symphony no. 2 tuning

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ouijabird, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. ouijabird


    Mar 21, 2011
    Bristol, UK
    Hi there,

    I'm playing Rach 2 in a concert later this month. In the 3rd movement the basses are instructed to muta E in D. I'm guessing this means to tune my bottom E down to a D. There's a pause halfway through the movement at that point. Any tips for tuning down as silent as possible in that pause?

    I'm not too keen on tuning down for the whole symphony as it makes some of the already difficult sections even harder :eek:

    Any other advice for this Symphony would be greatly appreciated too.


  2. That's odd. Normally you'd only find a "muta in X" instruction in transposing wind parts.

    I suppose this could be one of the earliest examples of mid-performance scordatura. You do move down to a low D a little later around 57, so it's possible he was really trying to make sure that happened. In that case, as long as one or two people in the section have extensions or fifth strings, it's overkill to have the whole section re-tuning their basses in the middle of the piece.

    It could also be a typo. All the other strings at that point in the score have "con sord" marked, so that might be all that's meant.
  3. ouijabird


    Mar 21, 2011
    Bristol, UK
    Yes I suppose it could be a typo, hadn't thought of that. We're a student orchestra and I'm one of 2 bassists both without extensions/5 strings. So I was going to tune down for it and my desk partner was going to stay in standard.
  4. All the same, I'd probably leave it out. It's almost always a bad idea. He doesn't give you much time to get it done, and loosening the E by a whole step will make the entire bass go way out of tune.
  5. SixPackBass


    Sep 4, 2013
    If I remember right, there's something like this in the Brahms German Requiem too.
  6. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I'm playing Verdi's "Falstaff" this week and there's a place where it directs the basses to tune down to E-flat and later back to E. I agree with Paul, leave it out, especially if there's somebody with an extension. It's a recipe for not being in tune until the intermission. The other alternative is to play the whole piece tuned down.
  7. Edvin


    Feb 25, 2010
    in other case, just try in forehand if it's cirka 1,5 laps or 2 and then just go.
    When i played sibelius violin concerto once, the conductor wanted me to tune down to a low Bb and i were alone with an extension.. Hard to transpose only one string for a whole movement!
  8. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Moussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain has the same instructions just before the big slow tune at the end. When we did it in my youth orchestra days, the whole section tried it and was a big splotchy, out-of-tune, wobbly mess.

    Better to have just the person with an extension handle it. If there's no one with one, just play it the octave up and see if the conductor notices (probably not). I

    f you are adventurous, you can try the whole concert with a low-D tuning (that's how I play all the time). The symphony is based on E and there are lots of notes on the A and "E" string so it would be quite a learning experience.

    (I have found going up and down from D to E during the rehearsals and concert to be a real mind game and will almost guarantee a huge tone-cluster mistake at some point. So, I found if I was going to go with a low-D tuning, I did it for the whole rehearsal and concert time.)
  9. ouijabird


    Mar 21, 2011
    Bristol, UK
    Thank you for the advice everyone. I think I'm going to leave it out for now. It's my first proper orchestra concert so I'm sure I'll be nervous enough as it is :s
  10. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    Using a low D tuning is not difficult if you just think of the upper D down an octave except now you have to close the Low G and G# in one position higher. Same thoughts for the C,G,D,G tuning. The C is fairly easy because you won't be playing a lot of notes on it and think of the upper G down an octave.... And leave the tuning for the whole concert!
    AND, if you want to use a low C, go out and buy one! Most Es sound lousy tuned to C.
    Tom Gale asodb.org.
    (Don't be cheap - buy one of my books!!!)
  11. Subtle.
  12. MusikFind1


    Mar 12, 2012
    For Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 "muta E in D" is not a typo. The instruction shows in the manuscript in Rachmaninoff's hand. It is notated in the 3rd movement during the rests at measure 93, 94 [before Reh. 52 ]. The low D is played for the two measures 155, 156 [4 measures before Reh. 57]. The tuning back to E is notated in measure 162. There are 7 notes that need to be adjusted on the D string.

    A new corrected edition of the Gutheil edition (old Kalmus reprint) has been published ©2011.
    RACHMANINOFF, Sergei Vassilievich (1873-1943) - Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 (edited C. F. Nieweg/C. R. Morgan). Pub. Edwin F. Kalmus.
    Large score - A1901 $140.00
    Set of parts (strings 4 4 3 2 2) $550.00
    Extra double bass part $15.00