While I was listening to Boulez's comment (in French...) on Pierre-Laurent Aimard's interpretation of the third Piano Sonata, I was wondering what is the "effect" Pierre Boulez is describing/imitating?

Boulez said,

Yes — [twang onomatopeia] — quite like a sul ponticello effect on string instrument.

Apparently, this is related to some effect for strings, but I haven't understood the name. This could be helpful to understand Pierre Boulez's intentions for this piece.

Thank you!

  • So the statement that you are asking for help with is in French? Can you translate it and put a quote of the translation in your question? – Todd Wilcox Jun 22 '18 at 12:56
  • Yes, please ask a specific question with enough information that we can all try to address it. Can you translate the whole sentence? Without any context there is no way to answer. It could refer to a psychological effect, or a physics effect, ... too broad. – ggcg Jun 22 '18 at 14:04
  • 2
    Boulez said, 'Yes — [twang onomatopeia] — quite like a sul ponticello effect on string instruments'. – mcadorel Jun 22 '18 at 14:22
  • @mcadorel : thank you very much! I was not able to understand the "sul ponticello"! – Watson Jun 22 '18 at 14:24

Sul ponticello is Italian and it means "on the bridge". It is a direction given to members of the strings section to apply their bows (or possibly their plucking when playing pizzicato) near the bridge of the instrument. Playing closer to the bridge emphasizes upper harmonics and makes the instrument sound brighter.

The opposite is sul tasto. I'm not sure what the exact translation is, but it means to play closer to the fingerboard, which gives a darker, rounder, more mellow sound.

  • Thank you very much! And sorry for having asked some unclear question ; I was not able to understand exactly what Boulez was referring to. – Watson Jun 22 '18 at 14:29
  • @Watson That's ok! We got it sorted out. – Todd Wilcox Jun 22 '18 at 14:39
  • I believe that "tasto" is Italian for "fret", but I would want check with an Italian speaker to be sure. – Michael Seifert Jun 22 '18 at 19:09
  • Tasto is also often just called a dolce sound. – Neil Meyer Jun 23 '18 at 7:35

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