Sheet Music

Sheet Music Database

Our Sheet Music database is very searchable using any or all of the following - Composer name, Title, Musical standard, Exam board and Grade of piece both that of the exam boards and also our own Stafford Guitar grading.

Our aim is to not only bring you the up to date exam syllabus but also a selection of music we have enjoyed over our years of playing. The Stafford Guitar grading is to help you when selecting new pieces to learn.

In addition you will find Selina’s review of a piece or book helpful and again these reviews are carried out to help with your choice.

We are also happy to obtain music that we currently do not stock so if there is a book or piece you would like call and we will attempt to find it for you.

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Sheet Music Database

103

Collected Works for Solo Guitar

H. Villa-Lobos

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Introduction by Frederick Noade. The music in this collection has probably been more studied, performed and recorded than any other guitar compositions of the twentieth century. This collection gathers Villa-Lobos' most famous works in their original forms and complete with Andrés Segovia's original introduction to the Twelve Etudes. Includes: Choros No. 1 * Suite Populaire Brésilienne * Douze Études * Cinq Préludes.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

There is so much movement in his pieces with lots of sliding shapes, sequences and big interval jumps, with musical shape and direction that requires great freedom, relaxed agility and flowing technique.

The music is advanced, grade 6 upwards and I think that it is invaluable for technical and musical development – as well as making you think about fingering and teaching you how to get about!

The short introduction by Frederick Noad provides an excellent summary of Villa Lobos’ history with the guitar, his innovative style and his meeting and subsequent association with Segovia to whom he dedicated his 12 Etudes. The introduction also explains his notation of harmonics and the associated problems. In fact there is a section at the end of the book that concentrates on specific problems which is very helpful for players looking at this music for the first time.

Much of this music is very well known to guitarists of all standards, and as Noad says it “has probably been more studied, performed and recorded than any other guitar compositions of the twentieth century.” This is reason enough I think for it to be an essential part of a guitarists library.

The book starts with Choros no.1, the first of a set of pieces of the same name written for various combinations of instruments. The word choro is Portuguese for weeping, tears and became the name used for music played by an ensemble of Brazilian street musicians using both African and European instruments who improvise in a free and often dissonant kind of counterpoint. This piece has great pulse and rhythm as well as a sense of freedom that makes it very evocative. It is technically difficult for the left hand requiring lots of quick movement between big chord shapes and barres while maintaining melodic shape and direction. As in many of these pieces much of the melody is in chords providing the challenge of thinking horizontally in up to 4 voices rather than in vertical finger shapes. There is a lot of rubato indicated in the music and this is very important but the music does need the underlying pulse and rhythmical structure in place before you start to pull it around. Again this is a feature in all of these pieces and is often what spoils my enjoyment of the music – rubato without structure tends to lead music without sense and direction. Unlike the rest of the pieces in this collection the Choros does have some fingering but it is not overdone. The player does need to have very good technical control and knowledge of the fingerboard to really communicate the spirit of this piece.

The Suite Populaire Bresilienne is made up of five melodic and emotional pieces that use contrasting dance forms combined with Villa Lobos’ choro style. They are Mazurka Choro, Schottish Choro, Valsa Choro, Gavotta Choro and Chorinho. They all have a natural flow and rhythm and are made up of repeating and contrasting sections. There are many unusual and more dissonant sounds combined with easily singing melodies and rich harmony. I love the delicate opening figure in Schottish and the sweeping melodic line of the Mazurka. There is a constant feel of movement in the music with no compromises made for travel around the fingerboard. The Valsa highlights control of voicing between parts and within the chordal melody. Similarly the Gavotta requires three distinct parts throughout with constant movement in chords. The Chorinho is purely from the Brazilian tradition and is more unusual and quirky. It is all about the rhythm and feel for the pulse with lovely, moody, low harmonies and a major section that is simply great fun to play!

The Twelve studies truly represent an important and innovative change in writing for the guitar. They pushed the boundaries of classical guitar technique further than ever before while maintaining musicality as performance pieces, as Segovia points out in his preface to the first edition, which is printed here in full. The first 4 cover basic techniques – right hand arpeggio patterns, left hand arpeggios moving around the fingerboard, slurs and rapid repeated chords. The rest of the pieces cover combinations of techniques and musical ideas such as maintaining voices, melody and accompaniment, multiple slurs, rhythmical challenges and ornaments. I particularly like the peaceful flow of the ostinato lower voice in no.5, the contrast between tumbling scales and emotional melody with accompaniment in no.7, the beautiful and mournful melody in no.8 and the contrast of drama with the lightness of multiple slurs accompanying a bass melody in no.10 – very tricky!

With all of the studies it is obvious what you are trying to achieve and so satisfying when you start to hear progress. Add to that the fact that they are very suitable for performance repertoire and you are killing two birds with one stone as they say. This set of pieces really does represent a lifetime’s work for the performer.

The Five Preludes are perhaps some of the most recognizable guitar pieces ever written, not heard so much in performance these days which is a great shame as they are so wonderful for developing a guitarists technical freedom and musical interpretation skills. One of these skills is controlling musical shape and direction through the use of rubato. When you look at the pieces on the page you can see a lot of rhythmical detail and subtlety that is very important but often gets neglected. Freedom in these pieces is wonderful and necessary but needs to have a structure to build on to have the desired effect.

The melodies are quite romantic, notably in no.1 and no.4 and it is easy to get carried away! However as soon as you start to recognize the rhythm and pulse the musical shape shines through and creates its own freedom.

The 5 pieces are similar in structure – loosely A B A – and contain many contrasts in dynamics, texture, emotion and musical ebb and flow. No.1 has a fantastic, long melody line with extended phrases and a great emotional build up. No. 2 has a more graceful and delicate arpeggio based melody with an intense and dramatic contrasting section. The rising lines of no.3 really highlight the sonorities of the guitar and its singing voice, with a second section that is very difficult to pull off and requires lots of musical thought, but the end result is exquisite! I love the stillness and sonorous melody of no.4 with its busy and compelling centre section and no.5 is simply a lovely, sunny melody with lots of voicing needed to bring out the harmonies that move with the melody and, again an intense and melancholy middle section.

It is great to have all of these pieces together, challenging you as a player both technically and musically for as long as you play and making you think about, and work out fingering so giving you a better knowledge of the fingerboard.

Selina.

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