|Normal Tuning of the Zither|
|Logic for using the circle of fifths|
|Putting things together|
FIrst let's look at the arrangement of the fingerboard (Griffbrett) strings. See also the diagram showing the layout of the Zither.
The fingerboard strings are tuned exactly like the cello, with the exception that the a' string is duplicated. The strings are typically numbered starting from the string closest to the player.
Like the guitar, the frets of the Zither fingerboard are spaced semitones apart.
Mother-of-pearl (or other material) inlays next to frets 5, 9, 12, 15 17, 21, and 24 provide visual references that ease finding notes on the fingerboard. The markers at frets 12 and 24 denote the first and second octaves.
The overlaps in scales between strings give the player options to play the same pitch. For instance, c" can be played on frets:
- 3 of the a' string
- 10 of the d' string
- 17 of the g string
- 24 of the c string
Note that some composers take advantage of the timbre nuances for the same pitch played on different fingerboard strings as well as the accompaniment strings. The player can lay down a "sonic carpet" (Klangteppich) where repeated notes are played on different strings. For instance, Isolde Jordan incorporates this kind of technique in her pieces called Mikroludium (e.g., numbers 1 and 10). Peter Kiesewetter frequently uses the sonic carpet technique in his works for the Zither. A great example can be found in his "GIL" works (GIL is Hebrew for Peace) -- number 23 "Am Gitter". Through most of the piece Kiesewetter creates a sonic carpet on a unison, by rhythmically alternating between open d' on the fingerboard and the d' (6th of the accompaniment strings). The effect is one of a shimmering substrate of sound. Kiesewetter's titles provide clues as to the images a piece evokes. "Am Gitter," literally means "on a lattice," and can also mean "trellis." He creates variety through rhythmic variations, dynamics, and tone clusters that punctuate various measures. Perhaps the tone clusters can be viewed as flowers that bloom on a vine crawling up a trellis.
The player can also create the effect of an echo by repeating a sequence of notes in a different position.