Definition of scordatura in US English:



  • The technique of altering the normal tuning of a stringed instrument to produce particular effects.

    • ‘The strings of a four-string cello are usually tuned in fifths, but scordatura tunings were used in the baroque era, and so tuning in fifths cannot be taken for granted.’
    • ‘Some of the tracks here were intensely experimental, featuring the electric keyboard equivalent of scordatura tuning, lush quasi-orchestral Hammond organ backdrops, haunting saxophone and ethereal wordless vocals.’
    • ‘The Fifth Quartet, written in the late 1980s, incorporates canons, glissandi, scordatura, and quotations of ‘Fling Out the Banner, Let It Wave’ (also known as ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’).’
    • ‘Two of the 1681 sonatas, #IV and #VI, employ scordatura effects in which individual strings (one or more) are tuned away from their neighbors by other than the usual interval of a fifth.’
    • ‘In his instrumental music, he was renowned for his use of scordatura, or alternate string tunings.’


Late 19th century: Italian, from scordare ‘be out of tune’.