Mute strings » Special playing styles - Philipp Dangas

[mute/strings] The mute for string instruments

The damper for string instruments

Description of the playing technique and justification for the sound produced by the mute/string

A change in the overall sound is achieved by using the mute. Regardless of finger and bow technique. Its function is to reduce the ability of the bridge to vibrate. This reduces the transmission of vibrations from the strings to the resonance body. This lowers (muffles) the volume of the sound. But the sound character of the instrument is also clearly altered.

The violin's muted pizzicato is particularly suited to soft sound effects. The sound character in Piano-Pianissimo-PianoPianissimo [p-pp-ppp] = gentle (low register), delicate, shimmering shine (high register) and in Forte-Fortissimo-ForteFortiissimo [f-ff-fff] = seems rather dull and strict.

Mutes/strings as part of the „symphonic world music“

It is possible to give the muted tones a peculiar coloring. To make the character of one voice sound different from that of the others. So that you can clarify it by using the damper. As in a slow movement in which the fundamental bass is made up by instruments playing staccato. And the strings (playing muted) create a veiled sound and thus underline the overall character.

Key data on the special way of playing mutes/strings

Italian: „con sordino“;
Deutsch: „mit Dämpfer“;
Englisch: „with a mute“;
französisch: „avec sourdine“
The damper is attached to the bridge.
Quiet sound without brilliance.
„with damper“ or „con sord.“ Specification via the staff.

Downloads for the mute/string score by Gustav Mahler

Sound file for the score
"3rd Symphony 3rd movement" Download-size: 183 Kilobytes
PDF file for the score
"3rd Symphony 3rd movement"
Download–size: 109 Kilobytes

Note on the score with an example on the mute/strings

Two graphics with a score excerpt follow. Excerpt from the „3. Symphony 3rd movement“. Composition by Gustav Mahler. An example of the special playing style "damper/strings". The graphics can also be enlarged. They are Link-Sensitive [Clickable].