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Douglas Niedt, guitarist

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Classical Guitar Technique

THE CAMPANELLA EFFECT



By Douglas Niedt

Copyright Douglas Niedt. All Rights Reserved.
This article may be reprinted, but please be considerate and give credit to Douglas Niedt.


WHAT IS THE CAMPANELLA EFFECT?

Campanella means "little bell". The campanella effect is a technique some believe originated with lutenists. The sound of the campanella effect makes one think of bells ringing together.

The campanella effect is the result of a unique style of left-hand fingering. A campanella fingering is produced by taking a passage that on paper looks like a scalar segment (as opposed to a chord) and fingering it as a combination of fretted and open strings so that as many notes as possible ring over the previous ones. It is very much like turning a scalar passage into an arpeggio. This results in the notes ringing together as a pleasing mish-mash of resonance, sustain, and often pleasing dissonance.

Let's look at a basic linear (moving step by step) D-major scale played with a basic fingering in first position. Example #1:

Standard fingering, D major scale

Now, let's apply campanella-style fingering to the same scale. Example #2:

Campanella fingering, D major scale

But, re-fingering a passage in this manner is not enough. It must also be played correctly. Note the arrow-lines indicating how long the notes are to be kept ringing. For the campanella effect to work, do not lift a finger until you are forced to lift it to play another note on the same string. Also, be careful not to accidentally damp any strings.

Watch me demonstrate and listen to the dramatic difference! Video #1:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #1: D-major scale—Conventional Fingering vs Campanella Fingering

HOW TO APPLY THE CAMPANELLA EFFECT TO PASSAGES IN REAL PIECES

Pavana No. 1 (Luis Milán)

Let's look at the concept of playing a linear step-wise scale with standard fingering vs. campanella fingering in a real piece. Here is Pavana No. 1 or Pavane No. 1 by Luis Milán with a standard fingering you will find in many editions. It is very straightforward but unimaginative. By the way, I am using standard tuning in these examples, not the vihuela tuning where the 3rd string is tuned to F#. Example #3:

Campanella fingering, Pavana No. 1 by Luis Milan with conventional fingering

And here is the same passage with the two scales re-fingered with campanella fingering. Example #4:

Campanella fingering, Pavana No. 1 by Luis Milan with campanella fingering

Watch me demonstrate and listen to the difference between the two versions. Video #2::

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #2: Pavana No. 2 (Luis Milán) Conventional vs Campanella Fingering

Interestingly, in the original vihuela tablature from his Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro (1536), Luis Milán does not finger the scales as campanellas. Example 5a:

Campanella fingering, Pavana No. 1 by Luis Milan vihuela tablature from El Maestro

Instead, he uses what looks almost identical to the standard, unimaginative fingering shown in Example #3. But the important difference is that most likely he executed it with the intention of making the choral-like counterpoint crystal clear and connecting the voices. I have notated it below on two staves so you can clearly see the voice leading. Voice 1 is in red, voice 2 in purple, voice 3 in blue, and voice 4 in brown. Example #5:

Campanella fingering, Pavana No. 1 by Luis Milan Choral Fingering

Watch me demonstrate this choral-style fingering. Video #3:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #3: Pavana No. 3 (Luis Milán) Choral Fingering

So, which fingering do we use? Milan's fingering, which emphasizes the clarity of the counterpoint, or the flashy campanella fingering? Some would say one should do what the composer indicated. But what sounds best on the vihuela, lute, or other early instruments will not always sound best on the modern classical guitar. In the end, as with so many things musical, choose whichever sounds best to you.

Non-scalar passages

Passages do not have to be in step-by-step scalar progression to be played in campanella style. Here is a non-scalar or non-linear passage with conventional fingering. Example #6a:

Campanella fingering, Non-scalar or non-linear passage with conventional fingering

Here is the same passage fingered in campanella style. Example #6b:

Campanella fingering, Non-scalar or non-linear passage with campanella fingering

Watch me demonstrate and listen to this very delightful effect. Video #4:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #4: Non-Linear or Non-Scalar Passage—Conventional vs Campanella Fingering

Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra)

Let's look at a more striking example. Alonso Mudarra included Fantasia No. 10 in his Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela published in 1546. Mudarra adds the descriptive text "que contrahace la harpa en la manera de Luduvico (that imitates the harp in the style of Luduvico". Mudarra's intent was to imitate the music of harpist Luduvico el de Arpe, who served King Ferdinand II of Aragon. . Luduvico (as spelled by Mudarra) is also seen spelled as Ludovico and Lodovico.

In the Fantasia, Mudarra imitates the chromatic dissonances common to Luduvico's harp style. The Fantasia No 10 is different from any other piece of the period and Mudarra, being very aware of its unique quality and knowing it would sound strange to 16th-century ears, cautions the player: "From here to near the end there are some dissonant notes; played well, they are not displeasing." He also informs us that "It's difficult until fully understood."

Here is Mudarra's original vihuela tablature for measures 1-16. (By the way, Mudarra's tab is the reverse of modern tab—the bottom line is the 1st string, the top line is the 6th string.) The measures outlined in red are the ones where campanella fingering could be applied. Example #7a:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra original vihuela tablature

Here it is in modern standard notation and modern tab. As with the Milán Pavana, the examples of the Fantasia in this technique tip use standard guitar tuning instead of vihuela tuning (3rd string tuned down to F#). I find the standard tuning makes the piece easier to play and is more conducive to the use of campanella fingerings. Example #7:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra standard notation plus tab

NOTE: most modern editions of the Fantasia halve the note values and accordingly place the bar lines at wider intervals like this. Example #8:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra modern transcripion

However, the new placement of the bar lines does not communicate the true metrical accent of the music as notated by Mudarra in his tablature. Mudarra writes the music with the beats clearly grouped in twos. The modern editions usually group them in fours. Performing the piece with Mudarra's metrical accents in groups of two gives the piece a more emphatic and energetic feel.

Now, let's look at the opening eight measures as fingered by Mudarra. Example #9:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra, Mudarra's fingering

Not bad at all. As I note in the example, to achieve some semblance of a harp in measures 9-13, the 3rd-string A must be held through, the D#'s must be held for two beats, and the open E's must be allowed to ring freely.

But look at this fingering which uses campanella fingering to the max. Now it really sounds like a harp. Example #10:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra, full campanella fingering

Watch me demonstrate Mudarra's fingering and the full campanella fingering. The difference is striking. Video #5:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #:5 Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra) m1-16

Video 5 Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra) m1-16

Here is another passage (the highlighted red box) from the Fantasia that is also well-suited to campanella fingering. However, Mudarra uses conventional scalar fingering. Example 11A:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra, m68-80 original vihuela tab

Here is the passage (m68-80) in modern notation. This is the standard non-campanella fingering used by most guitarists today. Example 11:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra, m68-80 conventional fingering

One could posit that the vihuela, strung with pairs of double strings (like a modern 12-string guitar) and played in a reverberant space gives the impression of the notes ringing together in a resonant manner. But on the modern guitar, I think we can do much better in our quest to imitate the harp of Luduvico by using campanella fingering. Example #12:

Campanella fingering, Fantasia No. 10 by Alonso Mudarra, m68-80 campanella fingering

Watch me demonstrate the two fingerings and listen to the stunning difference. Video #6:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #6: Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra) m68-80

My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe (John Dowland)

Composer/lutenist John Dowland's My Lady Hunsdons Allmand (or My Lady Hunsdons Puffe, or Lady Hunsdon's Puffe, or my Lady Hunsdons Allmande and maybe a few other spellings) has this passage which most guitarists play with this conventional fingering. By the way, the notes and rhythms vary in early editions of the piece. The version you have or have heard may differ slightly from this one. Example #13:

Campanella fingering, My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe or Allmande m12-15 conventional fingering

Nothing is wrong with the conventional fingering. Indeed, Dowland's lute tablature indicates a similar sound. But on the modern classical guitar, the passage really comes to life with campanella fingering. Example #14:

Campanella fingering, My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe or Allmande m12-15 campanella fingering

Watch me demonstrate and listen to the difference between the non-campanella and campanella fingerings. Video #7:

★ Be sure to watch on full screen. In the lower right corner, click on the 4-arrows icon to the left of the word Vimeo:

Video #7: My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe (John Dowland) m12-15

Usage of the Campanella Effect in Modern, Contemporary Guitar Music

Contemporary guitarist-composers such as Andrew York, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, Carlo Domeniconi, Leo Brouwer and many others specify campanella fingering in their compositions, often with altered tunings. Here is the campanella effect Andrew York specifies in the opening measures of his famous piece, Sunburst. Example #15:

Campanella fingering, Sunburst by Andrew York

Listen to guitarist Christopher Parkening play the opening phrase.

END OF PART 1.

Coming up in part 2:

  • How campanella fingering can make a passage easier to play.
  • Left-hand technique and fingering
  • Right-hand fingering
  • When to use the campanella effect

Download

This is a download from Dropbox. NOTE: You do NOT need a Dropbox account and don't have to sign up for Dropbox to access the file.

1. Download a PDF of the article with links to the videos.

Download a PDF of The Campanella Effect, Part 1 of 2 (with links to the videos).


3. Download the individual videos. Click on the video you wish to download. After the Vimeo video review page opens, click on the down arrow in the upper right corner. You will be given a choice of five different resolutions/qualities/file sizes to download.

Download Video 1: D major scale—Conventional vs Campanella Fingering.

Download Video 2: Pavana (Luis Milan)— Conventional vs Campanella Fingering.

Download Video 3: Video 3 Pavana (Luis Milan)—Choral Fingering .

Download Video 4: Video 4 Non-Linear or Non-Scalar Passage—Conventional vs Campanella Fingering .

Download Video 5: Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra) m1-16 .

Download Video 6: Fantasia No. 10 (Alonso Mudarra) m68-80 .

Download Video 7: My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe (John Dowland) m12-15 .