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 Post subject: Classical Guitar and other related essays/discussions
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:22 pm 
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The Story Of The Classical Guitar-A Personal Perspective


The Story of the Classical guitar's re entry into classical music is one of the biggest 'comebacks' in music.

Towards the end of the 19th century the guitar underwent a very unpopular phase. While it remained popular as an accompaniment instrument, music had largely ceased being written for the guitar, as an instrument in its own right. Additionally; In other styles too, the guitar took a back seat to other instruments taking the lead parts.

(Later in the 1930's a gypsy jazz guitarist named Django Reinhardt started revising the guitar's role in a jazz ensemble; sharing the solos of his group with violinist Stephane Grappelli and pioneering the guitar towards an instrument capable of the same melodic freedom of traditional lead instruments, like the trumpet and violin)

What is remarkable about the Classical guitar's return in the 20th century is it was achieved single handedly. The man responsible for this was Andres Segovia.
Segovia became enchanted by the sound of nylon from a young age, hearing the nylon guitar used in flamenco music Segovia loved the tone a guitar could make; yet had a different perspective how it should be played. Strangely, for a native Spaniard, Segovia was quite adverse to the Flamenco guitar and from a young age decided another direction could be taken with the Spanish Guitar. Years later when interviewed Segovia would say the way a flamenco guitarist played was what annoyed him the most.

Segovia additionally criticised the way a chord was hit so forcefully and the way the music was so raw on what he considered such a beautiful instrument.. This outspoken trait reared it's head more than once and lead to Segovia later say the electric guitar was an abominimation of the guitar.

“Electric guitars are an abomination, whoever heard of an electric violin? An electric cello? Or for that matter an electric singer?

This single minded and some would say bull headed approach was essential in making himself a new ambassador of not just the Classical Guitar, but the guitar in general!

Segovia was practically self taught. Much of the early recording are his transcriptions of music written for other instruments.
The Lute, the Guitars distant relative had long held the 4 Bach Lute suites in it's repertoire. Segovia transcribed these and many many other pieces. It wasn't just related pieces Segovia transcribed either. From Chopin to Bartok Segovia created a repertoire for an instrument that until only half a century earlier, had consisted of music by Sor, Carcassi and siimilar composers. The Classical period had been the guitar's most successful time until recently.

At only 15 years old Segovia made his debut performance, and over the coming years started to aquire quite a reputation as a virtuoso Guitarist. In 1923 at his London debut, a skeptical critic amazed at the sound of the Classical Guitar wrote;

"We remained to hear the last possible note " he wrote, "for it was the most delightful surprise of the season."

Despite Segovia's success, not only as a live performer but also as a recording artist, it would be another half a century until the Classical Guitar enjoyed the luxury of being studied at any of the London Conservatoires.

By the 1950's another talent in the Classical Guitar world had emerged.
Julian Bream made his debut at Cheltham Classical Guitar circle aged 14 and by 16 and already a seasoned recitalist He entered The Royal Academy Of Music the following year. Unfortunately for Bream in the early 1950's the Guitar wasn't recognised by music conservatoires as a valid instrument. Bream instead studied Cello yet his love for the Guitar was his musical vision. Despite all the repertoire available and its populariity It simply wasn't considered a established instrument.

(It was only as recently as 1959 that the guitar received a formal programme of study)

What Segovia had started Julian Bream pressed on with. Bream, a London lad from Hackney (the poorer part of London) was so captivated like Segovia with the sound of the instrument he recalls in his video "My life in music"...

"I didn't care how I would make a living, as long as I had the Guitar"

Bream gained a reputation too and struck up several friendships with some very notable composers, who in turn wrote new repertoire for the instrument dedicated to the guitarist.

One of of the most notable dedications was Manuel de Falla's Homage to the romantic composer Claude Debussy. Sitting in the performance was English composer Benjamin Britten. After the recital Britten enthused how much he enjoyed the piece and announced to Bream he would write a piece inspired by what he had heard.

In 1963 Britten wrote Nocturnal after the Renaissance English composer John Dowland. The piece used an almost unrecognisable motif from Dowllands Come Heavy Sleepeth from his second book of songs and ayres. The epic work then maps a musical version of a sleep cycle going from beauty to turmoil and eventually alluding to the ultimate sleep;death.

Other than sharing a similarity in basing itself a work by another composer it was a very new and groundbreaking piece for the Classical guitar.

Bream encountered much resistance from his record company recording this. It was verging on atonal and went away from the formular that the pubmlic enjoyed; namely the guitar drawing upon it's Spanish harmonic roots. Bream continued to push the repertoire forward and was responsible for music by Tipeet-The Blue Guitar, Walton-5 Bagatelles and the Japanese composer Takamitsu's All In Twilight.

Around the same time another notable Guitarist also began making an impression. His name was John Williams. Williams, an Australian was a complete opposite of Bream in every possible way.

Williams had (and still does) a reputation for flawless performances. Julian Bream wasn't and isn't as consistent.

My old Guitar teacher recalls being at a performance where he put so much passion into this piece he was performing suddenly disaster struck and the maestro stood up and apologised for he had had a memory lapse. The audience still stunned by the power he exuded stood giving a thunderous standing ovation.

Despite this side to Bream his hit or miss performances were just another exciting side to the live experience.

Bream and Williiams collaborated twice and two releases; "Together" and many years later "Together Again."

Williams albeit unsuccessfully, was one of the first Classically trained Guitarists to try and cross over into the world of rock with his band Sky. While at the time commercially at the time the band had some success, the music doesn't tend to be highly regarded by many Classical Guitarists today.

Williams' greatest fame (and also the Classical Guitars peak of polularity)
came in 1978 when a composer called Stanley Myers asked the Guitarist to record a piece called "Cavatina".

It was to be used in a big hollywood movie starring the young actor Robert DeNiro.

Perhaps a little over played now, but you have to remember at the time what this did for the Classical Guitar.

For a decade conservatoire applications went sky high and the Classical Guitar reached in the 1980's what I think of as it's golden age.

Contemporary Classical Guitar

It is common now in what is called the post modern age to denounce the previous movement of thought; modernism. Aside from a slight amusement at the term 'post modern, as it leads to my logic an ad infinitum of post, post modern etc, I think getting swept along with this is something to question.

Many of my contemporaries hold the view that the three guitarists mentioned above while being innovative and essential to the time are less valid than the current performances practices in conservatoires and universities.

The danger in adopting an absolute confidence in the present, and assuming the movement you belong to is the one that is truly valid, is that you not only miss out on the pleasure the great musicians of the past can offer but you also are in danger of damaging a generation of future musicians.

Going back to Segovia; the revivialist of 20th century Classical guitar. There is something timeless in his vision of following your own path and staying focussed.

Opposition it would seem to something new is the only thing that repeats itself through history.

Conclusion

From a personal perspective I regard my entrance into the world of Classical Guitar at 15 at the tail end of it's success. Now there saddly is a recession. Not just for Classical guitar but for Classical music in general.

The conductor Simon Rattle announced the danger of classical music disppearing altogether is audience attendances continue to fall.

Last year of all music purchased Classical music accounted for only one percent of sales. And the most devasting news...of that 1 percent a further 1 percent was music written in the last 50 years!!

This is why it is so important for me to have this at Ultimate Rhoads and why I want to do all I can. As well as my own music I am keen to play music in concerts written by other composers and in school show kids that it isn't the boring version of the exciting all singing all dancing electric guitar but the most passionate and expressive instrument ariound!

The Classical Guitars story is far from over.

I wil leave you with a quote from the composer/pianist Frederick Chopin.

"Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.

_________________
Having a break from online activity for a while to concentrate on music. Please email if you need to get in touch. Matt


Last edited by Cpt Matt Sparrow on Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:55 am, edited 13 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:07 pm 
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This article is a more in depth and schlarlly artic;e about the Guitar and what is called the msuical canon. This simple means the collective works for the Classical Guitar


First published in EGTA Guitar Journal no.9 (2000),

Towards a definition of musical canon

IN A PHRASE, the musical canon is the body of works from the past, which form what is often termed the standard repertoire. The musical canon is central to our linear conception of Western art-music. Music history is taught in terms of great composers and masterpieces Bach 48 Preludes and Fugues, the Beethoven Symphonies, Wagner and Verdi Operas and Stravinsky Rite of Spring. Who judges the worth of this core repertoire audiences, critics, musicologists, performers, composers? Is there any quality control or is the process of selection chaotic, even arbitrary?

Surprisingly, the whole issue of the development of the musical canon has only begun to be addressed by musicologists in the last twenty years. Joseph KermanA Few Canonic Variations (1983) is the first published article that tackles the development of the musical canon in any detail. More recently, William Weber, in his ‘History of the Musical Canon (1999), traces the etymology and evolution of a whole range of categories of canon. He begins:

One of the most fundamental transformations in Western musical culture has been the rise of a canon of great works from the past. At the end of the sixteenth century, it was unusual for music to remain in circulation for more than a generation; those works that did persist remained isolated from each other, or formed part of pedagogical traditions known by a small group of learned musicians. By the end of the nineteenth century, old music had moved from the musician study to the concert-hall: it had become established in repertories throughout concert life, dominating many programmes, and was legitimised in critical and ideological terms in which the society as a whole participated.
(Weber, 1999: 336)

Weber goes on to define three principal types of canon:
scholarly canon music studied in theoretical terms; the science of music or the philosophy of music
pedagogical canon music used for the theoretical study of harmony, counterpoint, analysis and as models for pastiche composition
performing canon the repertoire of established works performed in the concert hall
He later argues that performance is ultimately the most significant and critical aspect of musical canon. This is because what emerged as the core of canonicity in musical life, beginning in the eighteenth century, was the public rendition of selected works.(Ibid. 340)
To perceive some sense of historical overview in the development of musical canon, Weber suggests the following tentative set of guide-lines for the evolution of musical canon in Western art-music

1520-1700: the rise of a significant pedagogical canon, chiefly in the study of works by Josquin Desprez, Palestrina, and Frescobaldi, but with only isolated examples of old works in regular performance;
1700-1800: the emergence of performing canons separately in Britain and France, based upon repertories given authority in both musical and ideological terms, but with still fairly limited critical definition in published form;
1800-1870: the rise of an integrated, international canon that established a much stronger authority in aesthetic and critical terms, and that moved to the centre of the musical life c.1870;
1870-1945: a stable, though not untroubled, relationship between canonic repertories and contemporary music by which first concert programmes, the opera repertories, were dominated by the classics, but new works none the less maintained considerable prominence;
1945 1980: an extreme, indeed intolerant predominance of classical over contemporary music in both concert and opera repertories, paralleled by the rise of independent organisations led by composers for the performance of new works;
1980: a limited but still significant re-emergence of taste for new works, chiefly in avant-garde artistic circles separate from traditional concert-halls and opera stages.
(Ibid: 341)
I would certainly agree with Weber classifications listed above, his historical overview and his assertion that the performing canon is the most significant, but I would like to propose a fourth type of musical canon:

Didactic canon the repertoire used for the teaching and learning of instrumental technique.
There is an obvious overlap of repertory between the didactic canon and the performing canon. Concert repertoire is often used to build technique and studies appear on concert programmes. However, the functions of the two canons remain separated by the independent criteria used for the selection of works for each. In some instrumental traditions, notably piano and strings, these criteria are clearly defined; in others, such as the guitar, they are not.



II The didactic canon

IN 1822 the Royal Academy of Music was instituted. Significantly, similar institutions began to spring up all over Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century, the instrumental training of professional musicians gradually evolved from a haphazard web of disparate apprenticeships into a well-organised system of professional vocational courses of study, centred at purpose-built institutions. Instrumental pedagogy rapidly developed in order to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for virtuosity. The previous dependence on a published book became superseded by a far more elaborate oral tradition, based on direct imitation of the teacher, meticulous attention to technical detail and a rigorous programme of didactic repertoire, scales and exercises. Over time didactic and performance traditions became established. A myriad of direct pupil/teacher lines can be traced back through time, for example, Schnabel Clementi or Brendel Liszt.

In the Soviet Union (1917-1990), the government poured vast amounts of public money into the arts. The Moscow and St Petersburg Conservatories flourished and consequently, the Russian Tradition of didactic methodology became internationally successful. A huge number of top concert pianists, violinists and cellists are Russian or Russian taught. Since the break up of the Soviet Union, Russian pedagogues have dispersed to various corners of the globe. There is no great secret to the Russian success. The training was based upon a formulaic didactic canon. The order in which pieces and studies should be learned was absolutely critical; the level of clarity of execution and technical control expected before a piece could be dropped for a more demanding one was ruthlessly high. Teaching was founded on the idea that all pupils should be aiming for excellence. There was no distinction between professional training and learning for fun.

The important point is that the didactic canon comprised pieces chosen purely for their value as technique building tools, not because they had any intrinsic musical merit. When it came to preparing for public concerts (and not before), the performance canon would then take over.

Unfortunately, the classical guitar missed out on the conservatoire revolution, principally because it was not an orchestral instrument and it didn't have the popular appeal of the piano. During the nineteenth century, the development of classical guitar technique was left to a small number of isolated autodidacts. The didactic canon that we have inherited from Sor, Aguado, Carcassi, Giuliani et al is disappointingly small and disparate, compared to literature that exists for violin, cello and piano. This repertoire might also appear to be irrelevant to the modern guitarist because the structure of the instrument and the playing technique have evolved so much since the time before Torres. In the twentieth century, however, this repertoire was reinvented, adapted and updated, its authenticity redefined. When Segovia selected and published 20 studies by Fernando Sor (1945), he achieved two things: he established a link to a previous performing tradition and he began to address the need for a clearly defined didactic canon for guitarists. His role as editor was central to the success of the publication; the carefully chosen studies were adapted to meet the technical requirements of the modern guitarist, rather than to perpetuate Sor particular approach to technique. To take a simple example, no.17 in the collection (Sor op.6 no.11 in E minor) is used by Segovia as a study in projecting a melody with the anular finger. Sor wouldn't have used the anular finger, preferring the middle finger for the melody and increased use of the thumb in the arpeggio pattern.

Segovia will not be remembered as a pedagogue. He was a great player who extended the expectations of classical guitar technique and paved the way for the generations of teachers and players who followed him. He was a man with a mission:

I have dedicated my life to four essential tasks:
To separate the guitar from the mindless folklore type of entertainment.
To endow it with a repertoire of high quality, made up of works possessing intrinsic musical value, from the pens of composers accustomed to writing for orchestra, piano, violin etc. Assisted by professional musicologists, I also dedicated myself to capturing delightful works written for the vihuela and lute
To make the beauty of the guitar known to the philharmonic public of the entire world.
Influencing the authorities at the conservatories, academies and universities to include guitar in their instruction programmes on the same basis as the violin, cello, piano, etc.
(Segovia, 1971)
To take up Segovia final point, the guitar eventual acceptance as a first study instrument came as recently as 1959, in the UK, when Hector Quine began teaching at the Royal Academy of Music in London an option unavailable to Julian Bream who studied piano and cello at the Royal College of Music a decade or so earlier. The classical guitar can now be studied in most of the music conservatories and universities in Europe and the USA, but it will take time for a pedagogical tradition to develop and longer still before the classical guitar didactic canon becomes firmly established.

It is not an overstatement to suggest that Segovia revolutionised the concept of the guitar and the musical canon. I would like to explore some of the implications of Segovia statement in more detail in the next section.



III The performing canon

Segovia Mission Statement

FIRSTLY, it is interesting to observe the order in which Segovia makes his points; this suggests a curiously weighted agenda. It is evident that the lowbrow, popular culture image of the guitar troubled Segovia greatly; more, it would seem, than its lack of repertoire or its unfamiliarity as a recital instrument. The use of the wordsmindless and entertainment are particularly telling; one might infer snobbishness or even an inferiority complexhardly surprising considering the hostility he faced and describes in his autobiography. It is clear, however, that for Segovia the guitar should be an instrument of high culture.

Segovia second point begs much discussion. What does he mean by intrinsic musical valuerepertoire of high quality to be part of the mainstream musical performing canon? The implication is clear; guitar music should be written by professional composers and not by guitarists who are amateur composers. He goes on to mention academic transcriptions of works for lute and vihuela; this is where the nature of the guitar musical canon makes a sudden change of direction. Segovia is claiming a whole new area of repertoire for the guitar; he is inventing a new history, an imaginary line of progression stretching from the Renaissance to the present day, an artifice. It is this re-invented history of the guitar that forms the basis of the contemporary canon, which permeates not only recital programmes but also seeps down through college and grade examination syllabuses to the earliest stages of learning the instrument.

Composers such as Dowland, Bach, Weiss, Scarlatti, and Granados are at the very heart of the guitarist modern repertory. Astonishingly none of them wrote a single note of guitar music. In the case of the Dowland, Bach and Weiss, this might seem like splitting hairs, given the perceived close kinship between guitar and lute. But the jewel in the crown, Bach so-called lute works, is based on a near fallacy. Not even the two works designated for lute by Bach BWV 995 and 998 are comparable to the solo violin or cello music, where Bach rethinks his and the instruments idiom to create something utterly specific. The works are of course masterpieces, but they are not literally playable on the lute as Bach wrote them, doubling as keyboard works with only minimal adaptation to the lute idiom.

Segovia commissioned much new work, although his anti-modernist taste dictated a preference for selecting more conservative, Romantic composers rather than composers at the cutting edge of contemporary music. Some of these composers were fairly mainstream (Turina, Roussel, Ibert, Torroba, Villa-Lobos), but the majority were minor figures.

The Performing Canon after Segovia

Largely due to the efforts of Julian Bream, Segovia’s vision of a repertoire of new music of quality integrated into the musical mainstream was at least partially realised in the 1970s and 1980s. For a few years it seemed that most important living composers had written for the guitar; the list included: Britten, Tippett, Walton, Berio, Takemitsu, Henze, Reich, Maxwell Davies, Elliott Carter, Babbitt and Ginastera. Paradoxically, this brief flowering coincided with a widespread public hostility to new music (see Weber chart above,) and much of this fecund repertoire received, and still receives, tragically few performances. Players find these pieces unidiomatic and audiences find them difficult.

More recently, there has been an increase in the number of performances of new works composed by guitarists. Is this because the idiomatic comfort and familiarity, and therefore ease of execution, of these pieces is seducing guitarists? Or is it simply the case that the guitar world is becoming increasingly ghettoised guitarists travelling the world, playing music written by guitarists to audiences made up of guitarists?



IV Escaping the tyranny of the museum of musical masterpieces:
the changing curriculum & the new musicology

IN today climate of postmodernism and pluralism, the supremacy of Western art-music and its canon is being challenged. If modernism dealt with the refined and idealised, the scientific, the exclusive; then postmodernism deals with the spontaneous and contradictory, the intuitive, the inclusive. In the words of Robert Fink it is hopeless to insist that music reflect, not the heterotopia in which we live, but some one of the many utopias in which we no longer believe. (Fink, 1999, 132)

New music no longer has to measure up to its past. The clear line between high art and low art, that worried Segovia so much, is being eaten away. As Nicholas Cook puts it:

perhaps the most telling contrast between today musical world and the ways of thinking about it that we have inherited from the nineteenth century concerns high and low art. The very terms seem suspect today, and even if you wanted to use them it would be hard to be confident about what is high art and what is low art Writers about music in the academic tradition had no such qualms. High art, or music, meant the notation-based traditions of the leisured classes, and above all the great repertory of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Low art meant everything else, that is to say the limitless variety of popular and mainly non-notated and hence historically irretrievable musical traditions.
(Cook, 1998: 43)

Cook largely attributes this change to the ready availability of other musical styles through recordings. Notation ceases to become a necessity when digital recordings can provide a definitive, authentic text.

music becomes an element in the definition of personal lifestyle, alongside the choice of car, clothes, or perfume. Deciding whether to listen to Beethoven, or Bowie, or Balinese music becomes the same kind of choice as deciding whether to eat Italian, Thai, or Cajun tonight.
(Ibid: 41)

The diversity of influences available to today composers generates a multiplicity of stylistic possibilities. Paul Griffiths defines postmodern music as

music which is no longer arrowed to the future but timeless in its survey of as much human culture as its composer can encompass.
(Griffiths, 1986: 122)

The resultant broadening out of musical perspective implied by Griffiths has been reflected in radical changes in music education and in musicology. In 1988, the new GCSE music exam was introduced; an exam which gave the same weight to world music and popular music as it did to classical music. This radical shift in emphasis has now filtered up through the whole higher education system. In most universities, as part of a music degree, there are undergraduate modules in such diverse fields as progressive rock, jazz studies and music from other cultures. It is now possible to read for a BA in popular music, music technology, commercial music and ethno-musicology. In the academic fraternity, specialists in popular music, film music, and other non-classical disciplines are in high demand. Popular music composition is being recognised as a research equivalent activity. The new musicology is challenging the way in which we view old music, questioning the musical canon and tackling issues such as gender, ethnicity and contextuality.

For the first time general music students are studying guitar music. Paradoxically, the long sought academic acceptance of the guitar into the musical mainstream has come not with the classical guitar, but with the electric guitar; Jimmy Hendrix and Van Halen, not Fernando Sor and Segovia, Jerry Garcia not Gerald Garcia.

The cross fertilisation of musical styles has led to several high profile art-music commissions for electric guitar, including: Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint (1987) for Pat Metheny and Mark-Anthony Turnage Blood on the Floor (1997) for John Scofield. Arguably, the word Ëœguitar has come to mean anything but Ëœclassical guitar.

The cultural importance and iconoclastic power of the electric guitar has almost totally eclipsed the insular, impotent world of the classical guitar. Perhaps the time has come to shed the fragile pretensions of Segovia high-art performance canon and re-embrace the mindless folklore type of entertainment. It is possible that the notion of a respectable, adult repertoire has been a chimera, while didactic methodology has remained in its infancy.

So we are left not with answers, but with questions: How can the classical guitarist and guitar teacher react to this paradigmatic shift in the musical aesthetic? Is there a place for the classical guitar in this brave new world, or is it condemned to a bleak future in the musical wilderness? How does the new status quo affect teaching at grass roots level? How relevant is current didactic material to the new emerging canon? How many students understand the concept classical guitar when they enrol for lessons; and how does this influence the teaching of music through the guitar?

The canonisation of the guitar repertory that took place in the twentieth century was driven by a desire for acceptance into the serious musical mainstream. It was assumed that this acceptance could only come about if the musical quality of the performing canon was sufficiently high. The resultant, obsessive lust for great music led guitarists to colonise the lute and vihuela repertories and to invade the musical territory of the keyboard player.

In the development of the guitar student, the very idea of a privileged repertory the performing canon is a belated one in the setting of the concert hall. As we have seen, such discrimination is more relevant at an earlier stage, in the classroom the canon. Indeed, it is the quality of this autonomous didactic canon which will give rise to the more flexible, less hidebound performing repertory argued for here.


*

References

Cook, Nicholas (1998). Music, A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press

Fink, Robert (1999). Going Flat: Post-Hierarchical Music Theory and the Musical Surface, Rethinking Music, Oxford University Press, pp 102

Griffiths, Paul (1986). Encyclopaedia of 20th Century Music, Thames & Hudson

Kerman, Joseph (1983). A Few Canonic Variations, Critical Inquiry, 10 (September 1983), pp 107; reprinted in Robert von Hallberg (ed.), Canons (Chicago, 1984), pp 177Ã

Segovia, Andres (1971). The Guitar and, MCA Records 2535

Weber, William (1999). The History of Musical Canon, Rethinking Music, Oxford University Press, pp 336

_________________
Having a break from online activity for a while to concentrate on music. Please email if you need to get in touch. Matt


Last edited by Cpt Matt Sparrow on Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:45 pm 
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I appreciate all your sterling work here Matt. Holy Crap!! :o

When I actually get a minute of rest I'll attempt to read it. Will there be a quiz after for ya cyber students? Promise not to cheat!! :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:20 am 
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Stevie wrote:
I appreciate all your sterling work here Matt. Holy Crap!! :o

When I actually get a minute of rest I'll attempt to read it. Will there be a quiz after for ya cyber students? Promise not to cheat!! :D


I will pm questions to check!

Matt

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:24 am 
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Two 20th century Classical Guitar masterpieces.

Programme notes to 2006 recital

Nocturnal (1963)-Benjamin Britten

The influence of John Dowland’s music permeated Britten’s work. Two of Britten’s pieces are based directly on Dowlands Lute songs. Lachrymae: Reflections on a Song of John Dowland (1950) was followed thirteen years later by Nocturnal after John Dowland: Reflections on “Come Heavy Sleepâ€Â

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:09 am 
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Matthew, reading that has made my day! :) thank you!


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 Post subject: For anyone not sure where to start with music reading
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:40 pm 
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I have been searching google this morning for some good teaching resources and this site explains the concept of rhythms and counting.

Even if you never wish to read the actual notes. Understanding how to read rhythms means you can pick up any piece of tab with standard notation on top and play an accurate version

http://www.notationmachine.com/how_to_r ... rcises.htm

Matt

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Last edited by Cpt Matt Sparrow on Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:05 pm 
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I have found that being able to read the notes on staff and being able to relate them to the guitar neck has helped tremendously. It also helped to understand that the guitar is a transposed instrument, meaning the lowest E note on the staff actually represents the open 1st string E note and that in actual pitch notation the 6th string E would be in the bass clef.

You all know the Every Good Boy Does Fine/F A C E thing for learning the notes? Well, that messed me up more than it helped me. When I realized you can start at the bottom line with E and simply progress through the notes line, space, line, space (E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E) it finally clicked in my brain.


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 Post subject: Classical Guitar Repertoire-Audio and Notation
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:47 am 
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I thought it about time a thread was devoted to out of copyright pieces for the Classical Guitar.

Audio and notation (tab where possible) will be posted.

these Grades will indicate the difficulty level

Grade 1-beginner
Grade 2-beginner/intermediate
Grade 3-intermediate a
Grade 4-intermediate b
Grade 5-moderately hard
Grade 6-moderately hard
Grade 7-Advanced
Grade 8-Advanced

Francesco Tarrega

The first two pieces I already have recorded are

Tarrega's Adelita and Lagrima. Both pieces are around grade 4/5 standard.

Lagrima
http://media.putfile.com/Lagrima-21

Adelita
http://media.putfile.com/Adelita-81

The sheet music can be downloaded here
http://www.delcamp.net/auteurs/en/4_rom ... ga_en.html


Lagrima

Lagrima should be performed with the middle finger playing the melody line on the high e string while the index finger playing the pedal note (continous note). The thumb plays the bass on the 4th string.

There are some difficult sections to read if you are new to music reading. Please feel free to message on here and I or others will do their best to help you.

Adelita

This is another beautiful piece by the Romantic Spanish composer Francesco Tarrega.
The opening notes; the e and d sharp, begin the piece on the 12th and 11th fret on the 1st string.

This piece sounds deceptively simple. There are many tricky barres and phrases that are hard to make sound convincing.

A tab will be available shortly.

Francesco Tarrega Biography

"Francisco Tarrega-Eixea was born in Vila-real, on 21st of November 1852, in a house beside the Saint Paschal Baylon sanctuary. Both his father Francisco Tarrega-Tirado and his mother Antonia Eixea-Broch were working as housekeepers for the Mothers Clarisas"

In 1862 In 1862, Julian Arcas, the famous concertist performed a concert in Castellon and subsequently heard the young Taregga perform.

Upon Arcas advice Taregga went to study at the conservatory in Barcelona. The conditions insisted upon by his father were that he was to study Piano alongside the Guitar.

However Taregga neglected his studies instead choosing to play in cafes adn bars. His father angry at this attitude towards his education bought him back him. At home limited finances of the family meant that Tarrega had to perform on the piano. The guitar was not as a popular instrument and drew in less audiences.

Over the next few years the spirited Tarrega ran away three times joining other musicians such as gypsies to what we would now say to jam with.

Tárrega entered the Madrid Conservatory in 1874, under the sponsorship of a wealthy merchant. He had brought along with him a recently-purchased guitar, made in Seville by Antonio de Torres. With a new instrument and a new maturer focus to music Tarrega studied hard at the conservaotory becoming proficient not just a guitarist but composer too.

While the bulk of his work was written in the use of a family house in Barcelona, perhaps his most famous work Recuerdos de la Alhambra (memories of Alhambra) was written in Granada.

In January 1906, he was afflicted with paralysis on his right side. Athough he would eventually return to the concert stage, Tarrega never completely recovered. He finished his last work, Oremus, on December 2, 1909. He died thirteen days later in Barcelona on December 15, 1909 at the age of 58

Here is some modern Classical Guitar musi

The clips I have recorded on the guitar for you to enjoy are

1. Very Agitated from Britten's Nocturnal (1963)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAFdAEif ... annel_page

2. Bagatelle no 2- William Walon (1973)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcV5e62C ... annel_page

3. Bagatelle no3- William Walton (1973)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEDB0_kb ... annel_page

The 20th century has been the century of a second renaissance of serious western art music finding it's voice again on the British Isles. Walton, Britten, Elgar, Vaugham Williams, Sir Michael Tippett are just a hand ful of great composers that have lead the way in music the last century.

Cheers

Matt

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Last edited by Cpt Matt Sparrow on Sat May 09, 2009 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:15 am 
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When I teach (especially children who try and look for a pattern very quickly) the two most common areas of confusion are

1.getting confused with the notes on the stave and the guiar...ie thinking middle note on the stave also means the notes is on the 3rd of 4th string

2. The other things that can be quite daunting (and to be fair one of the reasons the guitar is one of the hardest instruments to read) is the fact that a note can be written in the top space (e) yet it could be referring to 5th fret, 2nd string, 9th fret 3rd string etc.

In isloation this isn't a problem but when you have an entire pasage of notes often the piece has to be fingered quite carefully first.

Randy Rhoads solos

Even if you have no desire to learn Classical/jazz etc; the great fun and liberating thing in learning to read music, is actually picking up an piece like the Spotlight solo and as you read it off, playing it where it suits you... and not Wolfe Marshall 8)

I hate being told what to do LOL so reading music and being able to sight read means I can have more choice.

Matt

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:11 pm 
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I have learnt to read music at the age of 8.
I think the best way to start playing guitar is by first learning how to read music cause you will progress much faster.

If you compare private lessons with students who had a music reading + rythm education with private lessons to students who just learn songs without any knowledge then yeah.. My guitar teacher says: "The first will pay 20€ for 1 hour, and they will be able to study alone further. The second will pay 20€ for some notes who will get forgotten after a few days."

So what I'm trying to say is that you best learn it before you go playing songs. Thats my way of thinking tough :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:00 pm 
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great thread :D this will help people ge an idea of what standard they're at!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:06 pm 
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reading music just takes time IMO. But at least it is something that seems to only require the actual act of doing to learn and not some crazy exercise.

i think learning the notes across the fretboard helped me.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:11 pm 
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rice_pudding wrote:
reading music just takes time IMO. But at least it is something that seems to only require the actual act of doing to learn and not some crazy exercise.

i think learning the notes across the fretboard helped me.


Well put Rob.

Music (audio wise) can be so much fun; music reading I know, can seem daunting but I think it is like going to the gym inevitability wise.

I don't always feel like going (to the gym) but regardless how I feel, if I keep going I keep getting fitter and feeling better.

In other words it is the same with music reading!!! commit 10 minutes a day and you will reap the rewards over a period of years!

I am not in a very clear mood tonight LMAO

Matt

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 Post subject: Updated videos inc' me playing with Soprano Jenny Ackhurst
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:35 pm 
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Hi

This gig was a bit posher than the spit and sawdust of the guitar society...LOL. The acoustics were just great. I am using my best Classical made by English luthier Tony Johnson. The amp is an Ashdown acoustic Radiator.

It is the beautiful St Paul's Church in Covent Garden

Cancion-Manuel de Falla. Performed by me and Jennifer Ackurst
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=URrZz63Xxvo

Asturiana-Manuel de Falla. Performed by me and Jennifer Ackhurst
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=hiZ7NC6ub ... annel_page

Here is me accompanying Suzie singing a song about the war with the French in Agincourt..sorry any French posters!!
Agincourt Carol-Anon English song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RamxKpPQutU

A piece by another English composer (not to be confused with the bluesman :) )
Alman-Robert Johnson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRl2PQthMcs

Suzie singing a piece about a prostitute!
Fine Knacks For Ladies Cheap Choise Brave and New-John Dowland
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFbXeYBqulo



I hope you enjoy!

A few UR members would have been good to make up some numbers :)

Matt


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Last edited by Cpt Matt Sparrow on Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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