Guitar News

Introduction to Reading Music Notation on Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 18:57

This is an introduction to reading music notation on the guitar for absolute beginners. This lesson is for students starting my free PDF Classical Guitar Method Book Volume 1. Before you proceed, watch the below video by TedEd. You don’t need all this info to begin and you won’t remember everything either but don’t worry, it’s all reviewed in my book. This will simply help orient you to the idea of music notation before you begin.

Beat & Tempo

The beat, also called pulse, is the basic unit of time in a piece of music. For example, if you listen to a song and begin to tap your foot at regular intervals you are likely tapping ‘the beat’.

The word tempo is used to describe the how fast or slow the beats are moving.

Notes & Pitch

Notes are symbols used in music to represent the pitch and rhythm of a standard musical sound.

Pitch refers to how high or low a note sounds. Rhythm indicates when to play a pitch.

Anatomy of notes (below picture). Noteheads can be solid or hollow, stem or no stem, flag or no flag. You will learn about all these variations as you progress.

Notes will be placed on a staff (the five lines) as seen below.

Staff and Treble Clef

The Staff has five lines.

The Treble Clef Sign is used in guitar notation (also called the G Clef). The clef indicates which notes are represented by the lines and spaces on a staff. There are other clefs in music, but guitar primarily uses the treble clef so that’s all you need to know for now.

A treble clef with an 8 below is often used in guitar notation. Guitar sounds one octave below where it’s written but we’ll learn more about this later so you don’t need to think about it.

Bars, also called Measures, are used to divide the staff into sections. Double bar lines usually mark the end of a section, final bar lines mark the end of a composition.

Time Signature

The Time Signature tells you how many beats there are in each bar and what type of rhythm equals one beat. The top number states how many beats are in each bar. The bottom number states the rhythmic value of each beat. Beginners really only need to know about the top number for now. In this example the top number is indicating 4 beats per bar.

Note Names and Basic Rhythms

The image below is standard music notation starting on the lowest note of the guitar (E). The lines above and below the staff are called Ledger Lines. Ledger lines extend the range of the staff. The note names go up in the order of the musical alphabet: A – B – C – D – E – F -G and then repeat at a higher pitch.

There are actually 12 notes in music that include sharps and flats but we will learn about this later. For now, all you need to know is: A – B – C – D – E – F -G.

Memorize the basic notes on the staff

Notes can be placed on either the lines or the spaces of the staff. Below is a quick way to memorize basic notes but remember that the notes go up in the order of the alphabet as above.

Line Notes Memorization: Every Good Bear Deserves Fish.

Space Notes Memorization: FACE

Rhythm and Beat Value

Depending on the time signature, note values can change. However, as a beginner, rhythmic note values must be explained in simple terms for ease of learning. So enjoy this basic explanation and we’ll learn more later.

Quarter Notes: Solid notehead with a stem = 1 beat
Half Notes: Hollow notehead with a stem = 2 beats
Whole Notes: Hollow Notehead without a stem = 4 beats

In the below example the time signature indicates 4 beats per bar, in this example I’ve written the beat out above using numbers to help you.

There are also corresponding rests that indicate silence. Rests are marked by symbols indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol and name corresponds to a particular rhythmic note value, indicating how long the silence should last.

You don’t need more info…but

Here’s a quick video by 12tone that will review much of the above. It’s speed will blow your mind, but again, you don’t need to know all this yet. Only watch it to get some ideas flowing and then you’ll probably forget most of it and that is ok!

That’s enough for now!

You can’t know or understand everything right away. It takes time and experience to understand what all this means and indicates for musicians. Now is the time for you to dive into my free PDF Classical Guitar Method Book Volume 1 and start playing and reading music notation. You won’t know everything, but your journey will have begun.

Come back and review this in the future and you’ll feel much more confident about all the content.

Happy practicing.

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Categories: Guitar News

Lorenzo Micheli Plays Rondo, Op.129 by Tedesco

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/13/2021 - 11:10

Italian guitarist Lorenzo Micheli plays Rondo, Op.129 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968). This comes via his great YouTube channel with audio and video by Drew Henderson. Fantastic playing as usual from Micheli with a combined clarity, warmth, and virtuosity that is a step above the rest. He also included the below write-up in his YouTube description:

The Rondo, op. 129, is the first piece written for solo guitar by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Firenze, 1895 – Los Angeles, 1968) after the Exile and the War. The composer considered the piece his “perfect Rondo”, because of its formal complexity: “Lo considero, fra tanti che ne ho scritti, come il mio ‘Rondò modello’[…]. La forma del Rondò, analizzata nelle sue sezioni, è (come è noto) A-B-A-C-A; ma la particolarità di questo Rondò è che ognuna di queste sezioni, analizzata in più brevi frammenti, è a sua volta in forma di Rondò: e ne risulta così una specie di Rondò multiplo.”

Roughy translated: “I consider it, among the many I have composed, as my ‘model Rondò’ […]. The shape of the Rondò, analyzed in its sections, is (as it is known) A-B-A-C-A; but the peculiarity of this Rondò is that each section, analyzed in shorter fragments, is in turn in the form of a Rondò and the result is a kind of multi-layered Rondò.

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Beginner Lesson: Alternating Right Hand Fingers for Classical Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 01/11/2021 - 11:33

Beginner Lesson: Alternating Right Hand Fingers for Classical Guitar for beginner guitar from my Free Classical Guitar Method Volume 1. Beginner students often have many questions about alternating right hand fingering. In my book, I list the fingering for most of the first half but then it becomes a concept to follow and apply to the music. This video answers questions and explores topics such as:

How technique exercises help form good habits. Practicing technique exercises will create all the muscle memory you need and your right hand will be able to alternate on autopilot.

Keep it in mind but don’t get frustrated. The first half of my book is fingered but as you progress you might make some mistakes but don’t worry, just keep it in mind and do your best and consider practicing more exercises and easy pieces until it works more smoothly.

Reasons why we alternate or start with certain fingers. This has to do with awkward string crossings but that is a topic that is a bit beyond my first method book and beginners need not clutter the information here. As you progress you’ll understand more but for now just do your best to alternate.

Is it okay to repeat fingers? Try your best to alternate. Practice alternation. But don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes time and in the future you’ll be able to iron out all the refinements.

Intermediate or Advanced Students

Check out my 4-part series on right hand fingering: Right Hand Fingering Lesson Parts 1-4 – 4 Video Lessons.

Happy practicing!

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Categories: Guitar News

So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife, BWV 515 by Bach

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 01/10/2021 - 11:32

Charles Daniels (tenor), Menno van Delft (harpsichord), Mieneke van der Velden (viola da gamba), and Fred Jacobs (theorbo) perform “So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife” (Each time I take my pipe ’n tobacco) BWV 515 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This comes from the absolutely amazing Netherlands Bach Society and their YouTube from their project All of Bach (You can even search via BWV number). Constantly posting fantastic Bach performances, it’s one of my most watched YouTube channels. You can see the full lyrics and translation via Oxford Leider. Quick sum: Folks, we’re all fading to dust like the smoking of a pipe! But it’s okay, adore the little pipe.

Here’s their Youtube Description:

The song ‘So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife’, performed by Charles Daniels, Menno van Delft, Mieneke van der Velden and Fred Jacobs for All of Bach, appears twice in the Notenbüchlein from 1725: once without words, and again – directly alongside – with words and a more embellished bass line. Are the runs reminiscent of curling tobacco smoke? It may be a simple idea, but no simpler than the way in which the words explore the similarities between people and pipes: both are made of earth, and both are blackened by use. However hot the tobacco burns, protect yourself from the heat of hell. So smoke with care, bearing human life in mind – a real Lutheran awareness campaign.

Recorded for the project All of Bach on May 12th 2018 at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. This recording was made possible by the support of Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds.

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DUO – Mozart, Beethoven & Debussy by Marko Feri & Janoš Jurinčič

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/07/2021 - 11:42

DUO – Mozart, Beethoven & Debussy
By Marko Feri & Janoš Jurinčič
Baros Records 2020

Buy, listen, or learn more about the album: Baros Records

Sheet music available via Baros Records

This is the last traditional review I’ll be doing on the site before changing to a different format for recording promotions. So I’m very glad it is one of the best recordings I’ve ever reviewed! From great playing, excellent arranging, and pristine recording quality, this album has it all.

Marko Feri and Janoš Juriničič’s new album titled DUO – Mozart, Beethoven & Debussy is an album of duo arrangements of iconic piano works by some of the greatest composers. I always love seeing what’s new at Baros Records with producer and recording engineer Uros Baric who is well known for his high quality work. The album promo says it all: “Beautifully adapted for two guitars, this album reimagines many of the greatest keyboard works of all time.” Below is a sample you can listen to as you check out more info.

I always have some hesitation when hearing piano repertoire on guitar but be not afraid here. To successfully play piano repertoire on guitar one needs a few important elements to make it work: a duo instead of a soloist, great arranging skills, and fantastic players. Luckily, this album has all three elements and the result is fantastic. Not only do Feri and Juriničič make it work, they make the repertoire sound at home on the guitar without any of the usual sacrifices of guitar arrangements.

Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310 by Mozart – The duo takes a real guitaristic approach making this sonata sound as if it was written for 18th/19th century guitar duo. It’s amazing how natural it sounds on two guitars. Mozart’s operatic character-driven melodic writing benefits nicely from having one person per primary line with the ability to add appropriate phrasing and articulations. As always with Mozart, when some interaction between the melodic parts occur you also get some exciting duet climaxes. Also a special note of how well the duo blends their sound in the Presto, at times sounding like one player.

11 Bagatelles, Op. 119 by Beethoven – The compositional level of these Bagatelles is beyond what we usually hear in the guitar world and the duo appropriately takes on a more refined and balanced approach sounding a bit more pianistic than the Mozart arrangements. The expressive phrasing on guitar works really well and I don’t find I’m missing anything. The duo’s virtuosity on the more pianistic textures such as the Vivace moderato is super impressive. The ability to change between individual melodic lines and back to a balanced texture help the duo successfully reimagine the work for two guitars.

Children’s Corner, L. 113 by Debussy – If you listen to just the first few seconds of, Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, you’ll understand how amazing the duo blends textures and phrases together. It’s so impressively smooth and fluid despite the difficulty of the lines and the duo exchanges. As you listen, the virtuosity and expression only increases in waves filled with even more character. The entire suite is equally surprising in the range of motivic attention and virtuosic ensemble playing.

Conclusion

DUO – Mozart, Beethoven & Debussy by Marko Feri & Janoš Jurinčič is one of the most impressive guitar recordings I’ve heard. In terms of virtuosic performances, musical expression, and blending as an ensemble, the duo make these iconic piano compositions sound at home on the guitar. Guitar arrangements of piano works are a dangerous endeavour but the duo add a wealth of motivic character that benefit the works in a unique way rather than merely arrange them for guitar. I am super exciting to hear more and look forward to some live performances by this top notch duo.

Repetoire:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)

  • Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: I. Allegro maestoso (09:06)
  • Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: II. Andante cantabile con espressione (09:59)
  • Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: III. Presto (03:29)

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770–1827)

  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: I. Allegretto (02:23)
  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: IV. Andante cantabile (01:42)
  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: VIII. Moderato cantabile (01:27)
  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: IX. Vivace moderato (00:37)
  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: X. Allegramente (00:14)
  • 11 Bagatelles, Op. 119: XI. Andante ma non troppo (01:42)
  • 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: I. Andante con moto cantabile e compiacevole (03:56)
  • 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: II. Allegro (03:12)
  • 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: V. Quasi allegretto (02:45)

Claude Debussy (1862–1918) 

  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: I. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (02:25)
  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: II. Jimbo’s Lullaby (03:28)
  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: III. Serenade for the Doll (02:23)
  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: IV. The Snow is Dancing (02:33)
  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: V. The Little Shepherd (02:31)
  • Children’s Corner, L. 113: VI. Golliwogg’s Cakewalk (02:59)
  • Préludes, Book 1, L. 117: VI. Des pas sur la neige (04:20)
  • Préludes, Book 1, L. 117: VIII.La fille aux cheveux de lin (02:53)
  • Préludes, Book 1, L. 117: IX. La sérénade interrompue (02:46)
  • Préludes, Book 1, L. 117: XII. Minstrels (02:37)

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Categories: Guitar News

Duet Play-Along: Flow Gently, Sweet Afton from Method Vol.1

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/06/2021 - 18:17

Flow Gently, Sweet Afton (Scottish Folk Song) – Duet Play-Along Video for beginner guitar from my Free Classical Guitar Method Volume 1. I’ll play the duet with Natasha and then play the student part with counting, then the teacher part with counting, and finally the teacher part without counting so you can play along. Using the YouTube Link might be easier for skipping back for retries. Big thanks to Natasha for helping with the duets in the book. She teaches in Victoria, BC, you can check out her website here.

Times for each Section
Duet with Natasha (0:45)
Student Part with Counting (1:40)
Teacher Part with Counting (5:00)
Teacher Part without Counting (6:53)

Below is the old video of just the performance duet.

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Categories: Guitar News

Duet Play-Along: Minuet by Hook from Method Vol.1

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/05/2021 - 10:56

Minuet by James Hook (1746-1827) – Duet Play-Along Video for beginner guitar from my Free Classical Guitar Method Volume 1. This is originally for piano so the student is playing the right hand part (treble clef) and the teacher is playing the left hand part (bass clef). I’ll play the duet with Natasha and then play the student part with counting, then the teacher part with counting, and finally the teacher part without counting so you can play along. Using the YouTube Link might be easier for skipping back for retries. Big thanks to Natasha for helping with the duets in the book. She teaches in Victoria, BC, you can check out her website here.

Times for each Section
Duet with Natasha (0:45)
Student Part with Counting (2:00)
Teacher Part with Counting (3:40)
Teacher Part without Counting (2:16)

Below is the old video of just the performance duet.

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Categories: Guitar News

Courante, BWV 996 by Bach (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 01/04/2021 - 11:49

Performance, Lesson, Sheet Music: Courante from Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 by Bach

Here’s the third lesson for my edition of the Suite in E Minor, BWV 996. In this video I cover the Courante. I perform the piece, discuss an overview, and do a walk-through. Here’s the Youtube Lesson Link if you want to watch it there.

One thing to keep in mind is the two types of commonly used Courante forms that Bach employed. There is a French style and Italian style and here Bach is using the French style without distinguishing it by title. Courante literally means “running” and in the Italian style that is quite an accurate description of the musical texture. However, the French style is usually notated in 3/2, with a slower pulse but plenty of faster figuration. It usually has rhythmic ambiguities such as hemiolas, and in this case goes further to feeling a time signature change for a significant number of bars. The French courante had the slowest tempo of all French court dances, described by Mattheson, Quantz and Rousseau as “grave and majestic”. However, in order to feel the half note pulse the speed of the figuration has to be quite fast in terms of the amount of material within a beat.

I found this to be a particularly tricky movement but once you know each beat somewhat well it gets easier. You just really need to know it well because each bar and beat of the music is packed full of musical ideas and unusual techniques. Below is the edition info.

Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – PDF sheet music for classical guitar. Comes with both a notation-only edition and a tab edition. Left hand fingering. PDF Download. The overall level is advanced but certain movements are easier than others. Movements: Praeludio-Presto, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrée, Gigue. Popularly known as a Lute Suite but possibly written for the lute-harpsichord (lautenwerk), an uncommon Baroque keyboard instrument. In terms of the manuscript, performance difficulty, key signature, and suitability, this is more similar to a keyboard composition. However, the overall lighter texture compared to his keyboard works hints at the texture capable by a lute. Nevertheless, modern guitar players have embraced the work and have found various arranging solutions for successful performance. Read more info in my Preface to this edition in both the free and fingered editions below.

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Categories: Guitar News

Tariq Harb Plays Tempo di Borea, BWV 1002 by Bach

This is Classical Guitar - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 16:35

Tariq Harb performs his arrangement of the 4th movement, Tempo di Borea, from Partita No.1, BWV 1002 for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This comes via Harb’s fantastic YouTube Channel. His arrangement is available to purchase here. Nice and crisp rhythmic accentuations all wrapped in excellent phrasing. It’s been awhile since I’ve featured Harb but looking forward to posting more of his great playing along with a new quality in his video, lighting, and sound. Below is an excerpt from his YouTube  description:

The Partita No. 1 in B minor BWV 1002 by Johann Sebastian Bach, is a piece for solo violin composed by 1720. This partita is formed in the traditional way that consists of an allemande, a courante, sarabande and gigue in the baroque style, except that this work substitutes a bourrée (marked Tempo di Borea) for the more typical gigue. Also, each movement is followed by a variation called double in French, which elaborates on the chords of the prior movement. I will be recording the double of this movement as well in the coming weeks.

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Gymnopédie No. 1 by Satie for Guitar (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 12/30/2020 - 12:54

Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie (1866-1925) arranged for classical guitar. PDF sheet music or tab edition for classical guitar. Comes with both a notation-only edition and a tab edition. Late-Intermediate (grade 7). This is a PDF download.

Sheet Music or Tab Edition

Gymnopédie No. 1 From Trois Gymnopédies for Piano by Erik Satie (1866-1925) with the dedication “à Mademoiselle Jeanne de Bret”. The tempo marking is just excellent: Lent et douloureux (slow and painful). This Post-Romantic Era work has a beautiful simplicity to it and sounds lovely on the guitar despite some adjustments from the piano score. Youtube Lesson Link.

Video Performance & Lesson 

Capo – A capo adds a light and higher pitch charm as well as equalizes the sound of the open vs fretted notes. I prefer to capo the 4th fret but it is only personal preference and completely optional. It has no relation to the desired pitch of the arrangement, just a sweet spot on the instrument.

Bar 34 – The use of the 2nd finger on C# is not ideal so special attention to sustain and legato is needed. Advanced players may wish to use their 3rd finger on C# if the stretch is feasible.

Bar 37-39 and 45-47 – The upward moving accompaniment is awkward but does add a nice moment in upper positions. I originally arranged it for first position but it sounded a little static overall. If possible, try to sustain the F# and G on the first beat as long as possible while softly cascading upward with the accompaniment. Some students may have to release notes early if the stretches are difficult.

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Categories: Guitar News

The Gap Between Good Taste and Doing Good Work

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 12/28/2020 - 12:03

Saw this on Kottke the other day and thought about how relevant it is for musicians starting their musical journey. It’s from Ira Glass about closing the gap between having good taste and being able to do good work. So many beginners feel this gap and they need to know it is normal and part of the process. Here’s a partial transcript (via James Clear):

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

The full interview from which the video above is excerpted can be found here

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Sanel Redzic Plays Violin Sonata, BWV 1001 by Bach

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 12/24/2020 - 14:00

Sanel Redžić plays Violin Sonata I, BWV 1001 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This comes via Redžić’s fantastic and very active YouTube channel. Recorded in Schottenkirche Erfurt, Germany. Another entire Bach sonata! I don’t know if he’s covering the entire output but he’s on his way. Fantastic playing by Redzic with a beautifully balanced voicing, forward motion, and plenty of musical attention to phrasing and motifs. Perfection!

  • 0:18 I Adagio
  • 4:55 II Fuga
  • 10:39 III Siciliana
  • 14:37 IV Presto

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Sinfonia (Arioso), BWV 156 by Bach (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 12/24/2020 - 13:07

Sinfonia (Arioso) from Cantata “Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe” BWV 156 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Sheet Music or tab arranged for classical guitar. Comes with both a notation-only edition and a tab edition. Left hand fingering. Early-Intermediate level (grade 5). Free video lesson and performance. This is a PDF download. 

Free PDF Sheet Music (only until January 31st, 2020)

This is an arrangement of the first movement, often nicknamed Arioso, from a popular Cantata by Bach. I first added the melody (originally an oboe soloist) and then the basso continuo line and have kept them intact except for some changes in the octave to fit on the guitar. I then added the violin accompaniment whenever the melody was sustaining the tied quarter notes. Due to the cramped limitation of one stave, I’ve combined the continuo line with the accompaniment into one written voice to create a clean score. Sustain the bass and accompaniment notes as needed. Video Performance Lesson Link

Original Cantata: ‘Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe’, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society for All of Bach, opens with a Sinfonia that is dominated by a melancholy oboe solo. The first aria has an unusual construction. While the tenor already appears to be reconciled with his imminent death, the soprano cuts through his sorrowful notes with Johann Hermann Schein’s hymn ‘Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt’. Lars Ulrik Mortensen, conductor and harpsichord.

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Spanish Romance (Romanza) – Grade 5 Lesson

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 12/23/2020 - 11:31

Spanish Romance, Romanza – Anonymous. This comes from my Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 5 book. Five pieces at the grade 5 level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece. I also have this piece as a single selection with an addition video and free notation edition.

Spanish Romance (Romanza) – This is an iconic work and may the most popular and well recognized works for classical guitar by the general public. The composer is anonymous. Also known as “Romance Anónimo” (Anonymous Romance), “Estudio en Mi de Rubira” (Study in E by Rubira), “Romance de España”, “Romanza” and “Romance d’Amour” and more titles. Includes fingering.

More info on the piece via its Wiki: “Its origins and authorship are in question. It is suspected of originally being a solo instrumental guitar work, from the 19th century. It has variously been attributed to Antonio Rubira, David del Castillo, Francisco Tárrega, Fernando Sor, Daniel Fortea, Miguel Llobet, Antonio Cano, Vicente Gómez, and Narciso Yepes. The Anónimo (anonymous) part of its name has been incorporated over the years due to this uncertainty. The question of authorship has probably been propagated by three main reasons: the lack of claim by its true author, the desire to avoid paying copyright fees, and the desire of publishing companies to claim the lucrative copyright of this world-famous piece. The style of the piece is that of the Parlour music of the late 19th century in Spain or South America, having a closed three-part form: the first in the minor key and the second being in the major key, with the third being a restatement of the first.”

The piece is certainly not by Sor, that is just way off, but Tarrega would not be a huge stretch. Though, if it was by any legit composers I would imagine the piece has been altered overtime to simplify it and make it more pleasing for mainstream consumption.

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Categories: Guitar News

Zane Forshee and Gene Koshinski Play Clockwork by Gene Koshinski

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/22/2020 - 12:06

Zane Forshee (guitar) and Gene Koshinski (percussion) play Killjoy – III. “Clockwork” by Gene Koshinski (b.1980), scored for amplified guitar and percussion. Great interactive composition with excellent writing for the guitar. Fantastic playing by Forshee with a demanding and precise rhythmic part to execute in tight coordination with Koshinski. The guitar writing is very pitch oriented even with all the percussive and glissando effects; very effective soundscapes that mix well with the percussion.

Programme Notes

When I was approached by Zane Forshee to compose this piece, he asked me to base the work on material or an idea(s) drawn from a book or other form of literature. I found it appropriate to choose a children’s story due to his new found role as a parent himself. This led me to the story of Cinderella, which has stood the test of time, entertaining children and adults alike, generation after generation. At the heart of the story is the clock tower. As the clock strikes midnight, it ends Cinderella’s time at the Prince’s ball and her fairy Godmother’s magical spell. In the story, the clock assumes the role of an antagonist (which, in real life, is something we can all relate to).

The title is derived from the Disney film adaptation of the story. In this version, Cinderella is awaked by the clock – foreshadowing the role of this antagonist. At this moment Cinderella exclaims:

Oh, that clock! Old killjoy.
I hear you. Come on, get up, you say.
Time to start another day.
Even he orders me around.
Well, there’s one thing.
They can’t order me to stop dreaming.

Killjoy explores the sounds of clocks, utilizing their musical value as a starting point. In essence, the work is a collection of variations on themes provided by various clocks where, in many cases, the “theme” is never actually stated. The first movement focuses on the stereotypical “tick-tock” of the clock. The second movement depicts a sweet lullaby that plays at the top of every hour. The final movement brings the listener inside the clock. When I was writing this, I had the vision of a mouse scampering from “room” to “room” inside a massive clock, the music magnifying the mechanical sounds of the inner workings of such a precise device.

The post Zane Forshee and Gene Koshinski Play Clockwork by Gene Koshinski first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
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Maria Luisa (Mazurka), Op.19 by Sagreras (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 12/20/2020 - 17:10

Maria Luisa (Mazurka), from Tres Piezas Fáciles, Op.19 by Julio Sagreras (1879-1942). This comes from my Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 5 book. Five pieces at the grade 5 level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.

In this lesson I cover some upper position scales in the key of the piece as well as a few chord shapes to know. This should help with fretboard knowledge and upper position orientation. I end the lesson by doing a full walk through of the work. Sagreras was an Argentine guitarist, pedagogue, and composer. His many lessons are contained in a multi-volume method book that include numerous studies. He also has a large number of stand alone works such as the one here from op.19.

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Francisco Correa Plays Guitar Concerto by Goss

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 12/18/2020 - 12:00

Francisco Correa plays the first movement, Bold and Bright, from Stephen Goss‘s Guitar Concerto (2012). Performed live at the Teatro Colon, Bogotá, Colombia with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia (National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia) under conductor Henrik Schaefer. Nice and accessible concerto with great separation and blending of the guitar and orchestra parts. Exciting playing by Correa going through a range of playing from sweet melodic lines, virtuosic flourishes, and percussive strummed accents.

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Categories: Guitar News

Iliana Matos plays El Arpa del Guerrero by Brouwer

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 12/17/2020 - 09:40

Iliana Matos plays El Arpa del Guerrero from The Black Decameron by Leo Brouwer (b.1939). This comes via her YouTube channel and a virtual performance at the University of Minnesota, School of Music on December 11, 2020. Crisp and clean with excellent phrasing by Matos. A world-class performer, she currently teaches at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. I’m so curious what brought her to Western Canada!

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Categories: Guitar News

Chasse, Op.51, No.9 by Coste (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 12/16/2020 - 10:44

Chasse, Op.51, No.9 by Napoléon Coste (1805 – 1883) and lesson for classical guitar. This comes from my Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 5 book. Five pieces at the grade 5 level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.

Chasse, No.9 from Récréation du Guitariste, Op.51 by Napoléon Coste (1805 – 1883). In this lesson I talk about the harmonics involved, the grace note (acciaccatura), and some of the chords. I also do a walk-through to talk about some phrasing and fingering.

The original composition and fingering is for 7 string guitar, therefore the modern six string guitarist may either tune down the 6th string or raise the lowest note (D) up an octave. I have chosen to raise up the lowest note and arrange the music for regular tuning. This allows the performer to keep the original slurs and majority of fingering.

Harmonics at the 12th and 7th Frets – Sometimes called natural or left hand harmonics on guitar, these are played by lightly touching a left hand finger on the string directly over the fret (the actual metal fret) and plucking the string as normal with the right hand. Do not push the string down to the fret, simply place the finger lightly on the string and remove it after plucking it (allowing the string to vibrate).

Below is an additional lesson on harmonics from my Classical Guitar Technique book.

Grace Note (acciaccatura) in Bar 15 – The acciaccatura (Italian to-crush) is a grace note that decorates the primary written note. In the 18th century the acciaccatura was often played on the beat but by the 19th century, depending on the context and composer, the note could be played before or on the beat and is largely a question of taste and performance practice. That said, the rhythm is often quick enough to be indistinguishably crushed into the rhythm. There is much debate about grace note performance, but at the student level the important thing is to add the decorative grace note without disturbing the primary rhythmic pulse. For this reason I recommend playing the ornament on the beat, crushing it into the same beat as the bass note and inner voice.

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Pavana by Gaspar Sanz (Lesson, PDF)

This is Classical Guitar - Sat, 12/12/2020 - 11:16

Pavana by Gaspar Sanz (1640 – 1710). Originally for Baroque guitar. This comes from my Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 5 book. Five pieces at the grade 5 level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.

Pavana from Libro segundo, de cifras sobre la guitarra española (1675) by Gaspar Sanz (1640 – 1710). The original tablature has another section at the end. However, due to the octave tuning of the Baroque guitar choruses (string sets) the final section lacks the desired result when played on a modern guitar. Most editions of the work omit the improvisatory-sounding final section.

vib. – This marking is for a specifically intense vibrato which was used as an ornament that would highlight the note or musical line. The effect is a bit different on Baroque guitar so don’t over-do-it on the modern classical guitar.

The Baroque guitar only has five choruses and I’ve arranged it here to follow Sanz’s fingering/frets. Many modern editions of the music fill out the bass line to utilize the low 6th string. Feel free to experiment with extending the range of the bass voice. For example, the last two beats of Bar 11 could use a low G and F on the sixth string.

Bar 29 – The 3rd beat bass note would sound nice as an E but the tablature clearly marks the open 4th string.

Alternate right hand fingering on melodic scale passages. Some repeated fingers will occur around the three and four voice chords. Use the thumb for all of the bass voice and alternate i, m, and a for the other notes. I’ve marked a few bars for ideas and reminders for the thumb on the third string.

YouTube Lesson Link

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