Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho wrote the beautifully evocative “Sept Papillons” for solo cello in 2000. Throughout the seven movements she uses harmonics combined with timbral devices, such as overpressure and fluctuations of the ponticello/tasto continuum, to create a colorful sonic landscape.
Here at the beginning of “Papillon III” we find a good example of gradual transitions over held notes:
In measures 20-21 of “Papillon IV” the composer asks for a gradual transition to ponticello over a 16th-note passage:
Thomas Ades, a British composer and pianist, uses ponticello sounds to texture the tango-style bass line in the fourth movement of his brilliant Opus 12 string quartet entitled “Arcadiana”. Here in measures 9-16 of “Et…(tango mortale)”, the gesture leading into each downbeat begins tasto and progresses to ordinario on the downbeat. The next two notes are marked poco sul pont. and sul pont., respectively, and provide a percussive effect that is both violent and grounding.
The 3rd “Lesson” in Fausto Romitelli’s Professor Bad Trip trilogy provides a great example of a composer using the transition from tasto (“T”) to ponticello (“P”) motivically: