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.

Sheet Music Database

101

Dyens Mambo des Nuances

Roland Dyens

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Skill Level
Advanced
100

Aquarelle

Sergio Assad

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Single piece for guitar. D Major. 14 pages. Published by Editions Henry Lemoine

Skill Level
Advanced
99

Five Bagatelles for Guitar

William Walton

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The Five Bagatelles were written for Julian Bream and dedicated to Malcolm Arnold on his 50th birthday. They were first performed by Julian Bream on 27th May. The five different bagatelles each capture a different mood from the relentlessly upbeat first, the languid second, the smoky, seductive third, the dreamy fourth and the frantic finale. All feel instinctively like guitar music.

Skill Level
Advanced
98

24 Preludes Book 1

Gilbert Biberian

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Often intricate and complex, these Preludes are intended for a fairly advanced player, although there are no fearsome technical obstacles. They are composed skillfully and effectively for the guitar.

Skill Level
Advanced
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97

Microestudios 6 to 10 Vol 2

Abel Carlevaro

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An exceptional virtuoso, composer and teacher Carlevaro is not only one of the most important guitarists of our time but the creator of a new school of instrumental technique. Microestudios, three books containing 15 studies, are a must for the aspiring guitarist.

Skill Level
Intermediate
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96

25 Etudes Melodiques Progressives Op. 60

Carcassi

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This is the first accurate and reliable modern edition of Matteo Carcassi's 25 Melodic and Progressive Studies op.60. They are presented complete in their correct order with the composer's original fingering and phrasing. An indispensable part of the repertoire, these studies cover a wide variety of guitar techniques and are musically both inventive and attractive

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

The 25 Melodic and Progressive Studies Opus 60 by Carcassi are fantastic pieces that should be an essential part of every guitarists repertoire.

They are more than studies, encouraging players to find musical shape and develop ideas using combinations of melody, accompaniment, various intervals both split and together, slurs, arpeggios and chords, creating some little musical gems.

At the same time they give an excellent grounding in the basic guitar techniques that are all to often taken for granted but that form the backbone of pretty much all the music that we play.

The most recent edition by Chanterelle has an excellent preface with information about Carcassi, a general description of the music and discussion about sources and early editions.

Of most interest to me are the comments on fingering.

They have used the Rowies edition as the main source, printed in 1914 and fingered by Miguel Llobet. Their reasoning is that this edition is very important in the history of The 25 Etudes, having, as they say one foot in the 19th century and one foot in the 20th century. This means that the edition respects the traditions of the past while looking forward to the development of guitar technique.

This is great information for a player to have and recognizes how playing techniques are constantly changing. It is very important for us to understand techniques and performance practice from the past so that we can use the information to help us interpret the music.

My problem comes when looking at the studies and seeing the level and very specific nature of the fingering. There is a lot of explanation in a long section following the preface entitled Playing The Studies. This is very interesting, especially useful if you are looking at the pieces without a teacher.

A lot of fingering is explained in detail with suggestions on learning the music. It is of course very technical, an important part of learning, but not the only one. The detailed fingering is then continued in most of the pieces and seems to result in learning by numbers.

For example in no. 1 the student is so involved in getting the printed right hand fingering correct (there is a letter for almost every note) that they haven’t got time to listen to musical lines, and so follow the natural flow of the music and discover a fingering that fits.

Since this edition has such a good preface and section of notes on the music, a lot of the technical information could be referred back to this, allowing the player more freedom to learn and interpret the music.

The reasons for using a later edition rather than Carcassi’s original fingering are ones of technical and musical progress.

Surely that still applies!

Moving on – I think that this music is fantastic. It really is collection of musical miniatures that, with the right attention to detail, make lovely little concert fillers and provide an excellent education for all guitarists.

Carcassi uses a number of different compositional styles and what I find most interesting is the music that is shaped with harmony, in other words with no obvious melodic line but the tension, relaxation and movement provided by changing harmonies. The best examples are no.8 using slurs to add texture and increase movement, no.4 with many more slurs to negotiate, no.2 with a dramatic build up in pitch and intensity, and no. 7 with a combination of repeated ‘tremolo’ notes and arpeggios underpinned with a clear bass melody.

Many of the studies are based on the harmonic movement with melody found within the arpeggio pattern or chord shape. The most well known example is no.3 in A major with a simple upper melodic motif and strong bass to help develop shape. Nos.1 and 6 clearly use simple scale patterns and show how developing smooth and fluent movement between notes brings simple lines to life.

I particularly like the vitality and bubbly character of no.9 with quick movement around the fingerboard, and the melancholy melody singing out from the triplet patterns in no.13. Nos.16 and 21 show how effective close chords punctuated by rests are in giving character and rhythmic shape to music and nos.20, 21, 22 and 23 develop quick, free and full movement up, down and across the fretboard resulting in breadth and excitement in the music. Nos.24 and 25 combine all the skills and musical ideas worked on in the book in two beautifully contrasting pieces from melodic lines moving smoothly between bass and treble voices in no.24 to the flowing and expansive arpeggio passages of no. 25.

If you can fluently use the techniques in these pieces and shape the music from them then the guitar repertoire opens out before you and you can move forward knowing that your foundations are strong. You will also thoroughly enjoy the learning process and will be able to experiment with lots of musical ideas, textures and emotions.

Just don’t get distracted by the fingering – be independent and learn more!

Selina.

95

Five Pictures of Sark

Vincent Lindsey-Clark

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These five delightful pieces by Vincent Lindsey-Clark reflect the Channel Island of Sark. Maseline Harbour, Hvre Gosselin, Cycles in the Avenue, La Moinerie and Descent from La Coupee are expertly composed for solo guitar by this highly talented musician.

Skill Level
Intermediate

As with the "Simply" series, these pieces encourage experimentation, exploration and musicianship for all levels of ability.

Clarke somehow manages to make the guitar sound more expansive in scope than it is with the various ways that he writes melodies and, particularly, accompaniments. He achieves many different textures and moods, which are evocative and convincing, drawing real pictures of the scenery and life of Sark.

The music requires dynamic and tonal control and contrast, while the structure and harmony in the pieces introduces the player to a modern and "impressionistic" style.

We often talk about finding pictures to accompany your music and help you to communicate ideas - this music really helps and encourages you to do just that!

In Maseline Harbour the contrast in textures is fantastic, from the flowing arpeggios of the first section to a repeated chord accompaniment over a bass melody; this melody then expands into octaves bringing out wonderful dissonances and producing a big sound picture. The final section highlights a syncopated melody within the semiquavers that is a great exercise for the brain and finger independence. This creates an uneasy atmosphere before melting back into the opening arpeggios.

Havre Gosselin uses a simpler musical texture, mainly two voices, employing repeated notes in the melody to create long undulating phrases. This is a haunting piece; the dramatic centre section uses big jumps between first and seventh position to hold and release the tension in the music.

Cycles in the Avenue is the most cheerful of the pieces -the musical instruction is "scherzando"! The piece uses the whole fretboard and encourages a freedom of movement in the player. This is not easy as there is some challenging high position reading and quick moves. The contrasting middle section uses long slow chords with a "scrunchy" harmonic progression and voicing that requires one part to be staccato and the other legato.

La Moinerie is a beautiful, slow, expressive piece that requires good finger control to bring out the separate voices and fantastic harmonies. The phrases are long and flowing, excellent practice for the developing guitarist and the flow of the music is irresistible. A small phrase using artificial harmonics with other voices is a big challenge (a difficult technique) that is wonderful when mastered, and the way that the ending evaporates has a real "tingle" factor!

The final piece, Descent from La Coupee (304 steps) is the most dramatic, dissonant and exciting. The dissonances may take some time to get used to when you are learning the piece, but the effect they add to the driving rhythms conjures up many pictures including, for me, a thunderstorm, crashing seas and fright in the repeated chord section! The use of strumming and punctuated rhythm in the coda results in a big, dramatic ending.

This set of pieces would stand quite happily alongside more complicated and difficult works in performance and I think that any player would have fun (and benefit from) exploring them - I know that I do!

Selina.

92

Easy Pieces from Shakespeares Time Vol.1

Karl Scheit

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This music, in its beauty and easy playability, constitutes an excellent introduction to the extensive lute literature of the Elizabethan Era. Through the pieces in this collection the player, from the outset, will be made familiar with the most diverse interpretation techniques, such as ornamentation, diminution and song settings for lute alone. Includes pieces by John Dowland, Francis Cutting and Thomas Robinson. These two volumes are full of pieces that have stood the test of time and are a must for anyone learning the classical guitar.

Skill Level
Intermediate

I am so enjoying reviewing our music because I am being reintroduced to a lot of the music that has been part of my life with the guitar and realizing how much great stuff there is to choose from whatever your level and expertise.

These books probably represent my first introduction to music of the Renaissance, music that is still my favourite.

We are so lucky as guitarists to have repertoire that spans so many centuries to choose from and the pieces here are simply great for developing musical skills like counterpoint, highlighting voices, repeated chords and exciting rhythm.

These books have been around for a long time, a fact that reflects their value on technical, musical and enjoyment levels. The printing is clear and the edition is good with fingering suggestions rather than the blanket fingering that is common among modern editions. The books include a wide range of music, from simple dances to slower more gentle pieces and on to quite difficult rhythms, voicing and counterpoint. Many of the pieces use compound time like the delightful A Toy and Wilson’s Wilde in volume 1, so good for improving your counting skills and developing a real feel for pulse which is so vital for flowing and musical performance.

What if a Day (vol.1) is excellent chord voicing, listening to harmony and keeping a smooth melody over the top. More detailed counterpoint is evident in Grisse his delight, An Almaigne and Alman (vol.1) with melodic lines being introduced in up to three lines as well as supporting harmony. This is such valuable experience for the developing guitarist as we are so used to thinking vertically. Here we can learn to find, sing and highlight the different melodies and the resulting phrasing, dissonances and musical drive are fantastic.

Volume 2 also includes a range of pieces reaching to a higher level than the first volume. I particularly love the Volt and Currant, musically simple with great drive and technically tricky with a fast melody over a repeated arpeggio in the bass – learning what it is like to be more than one musician on one guitar! Go From my Window and Fortune introduce the idea of F# tuning which allows the fingering to follow how it would have been played on the lute.

There is a lot of detail in this music but also loads of spirit, movement and fun. From an early stage it particularly teaches us to listen and on a technical level is especially good for the left hand developing independence and flexibility across the strings. I will certainly be bringing these into my teaching. The music may be very old but it is some of the best and accessible from an early stage. It may not seem trendy but that doesn’t matter because it is great fun to play!

Selina.

94

Cavatina

Alexandre Tansman

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Tansman met Andres Segovia in Paris in the 1920s, a meeting that inspired him to write a number of important works for guitar. In 1952 ‘Cavatina’ was a prize winner at the International Music Competition in Sienna, Italy. Cavatina is a suite of 4 movements written in a style that is ‘contemporary’ (in its time) but also lyrical and, I think, romantic, using rich harmonies and driving pulsing rhythms.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

The last time that I played part of this suite was when I was doing exams myself too many years ago to mention! It is brilliant to revisit and realize how much there is in the music in colour, texture and expression. In fact since I have started reviewing I am going to be learning and relearning a lot of different and exciting pieces!

Tansman met Andres Segovia in Paris in the 1920s, a meeting that inspired him to write a number of important works for guitar. In 1952 ‘Cavatina’ was a prize winner at the International Music Competition in Sienna, Italy.

Cavatina is a suite of 4 movements written in a style that is ‘contemporary’ (in its time) but also lyrical and, I think, romantic, using rich harmonies and driving pulsing rhythms.

The opening ‘Preludio’ (grade 8) is marked Allegro con moto and has a bright and rhythmical opening section using motifs and patterns that help the ear to learn the style, along with more chromatic writing. The central section is slower with a lovely singing melody line.

The Lento ‘Sarabande’ (grade 7) has a tranquil melody built around a wistful triplet figure with contrapuntal voices and lovely harmonies created from suspended notes and gentle dissonances. I particularly like the long, singing, mellow bass lines – great for shaping and developing tone.

You then have to turn to the final page of the edition for the 3rd movement, ‘Scherzino’ (grade 8). This has a tremolo opening with a subtle build up of tension leading into the Piu vivo that echoes rhythm patterns from the 1st movement. There are lots of left hand patterns, falling sequences and rhythms that cross the bar lines. There is a great, ‘bouncing’ central melody with a fanfare type ending building chords across repeated bass ‘E’s, again echoing the beginning of the suite.

Turning back a page the final ‘Barcarole’ (grade 7) has a 6/8 rhythm, starting ‘dark’ and opening into warmth and light with a lovely lilting movement over the full range of the guitar.

This movement was one of my first experiences of more contemporary music, and a very good one since I have continued to enjoy exploring new music over the years.

It is great that this music is back in the syllabus and I hope that many more guitarists will be adventurous in exploring this classic and important repertoire.

Selina.

91

The Guitarists Progress Book 3

David Burden

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The Guitarist's Progress Book 3 - A selection of the best 19th Century works for guitar. Music for the intermediate stages of classical guitar playing, arranged by David Burden.

Skill Level
Intermediate
90

Guitar Crackers

Cees Hartog

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Solos for Classical Guitar. Traditionals, Folk, Blues, Country, Latin Americans, Romantic Moods. Popular. Level: Easy. Book. 24 pages. Published by Alsbach

Skill Level
Intermediate
89

25 Etudes Esquisses (Complete)

Gerald Garcia

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This collection of classic guitar studies is intended for the intermediate guitarist. As a whole, these etudes emulate the content of Carcassi's famed 25 Etudes, yet in a more contemporary harmonic and rhythmic idiom. These pieces are also distinguished in that they are not only valuable as left and right-hand technical exercises, but also as valid, pleasurable concert repertoire.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

This really is a great volume of pieces. Yes, they are quite contemporary and will probably introduce you to new sounds and musical ideas but they are also very accessible and cover a wide range of technical ability. Best of all they are very specific in their aims and goals and the music is notated in a lot of detail to help with the interpretation.

Each study has an indication of style/ tempo at the beginning such as Mesto, Allegro Comodo, Lento e ritardando and Lento piacevole. We need to know the meaning of these terms! There is also a sub title at the end of the piece that gives us a story line or feeling, for example Flocon de Neige, Les Grandes Jaunes, l’Indigo seul and Voiles rouges. Again understanding the meanings is vital and with the Internet these days there is really no excuse!

There are so many good tunes and interesting rhythms, and the studies are very valuable for technical development. Requirements include detailed chord voicing, fast repeated notes and chords, quick left hand movement around the fingerboard, arpeggio shapes and detailed right hand patterns, slur patterns, intricate articulation and sustaining long singing phrases. The harmonies are fantastic with strong musical direction and momentum guiding the player.

You really have to listen and the music is fingered in a way that keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking.

For example in no.13 the temptation is to hold fingers down to cover repeated chords but the rhythmic character requires you to let go for clear articulation. When you get it right it creates a brilliantly quirky and fun piece of music. In no. 14 (AB grade 5) the voicing is indicated with stems, sometimes double and sometimes offset, and it is very important to play to these voices and concentrate on holding sustaining notes and letting go of others in the right places. This means that you have to be very aware which of your fingers are playing which notes!

Dynamic control is a highlight throughout the book. In no.3 (AB grade 5, Trinity grade 5) there are long crescendos and diminuendos over the repeated note patterns and changes in mood and key that need to be reflected. Slurring technique is well covered, which is great since it seems to be one of those techniques that we just do rather than learn.

From the lilting melody of no.4 (AB grade 7, Trinity grade 6) and the haunting mood of no.20 to the vivace slur patterns in no.7 (Trinity grade 4) and the rhythmical and complex no.17 where the slur pattern is often in the middle voice needing great technical control, there is certainly enough variety to keep your interest and so improve your technique. No. 22 is one of my particular favourites as it uses only a single written line but implies many voices and is excellent for phrasing and interpretation.

There is not really enough space here to talk about every study but I hope that I have been able to inspire you to play this music. It works on just about every technique that we need in a fun and engrossing way, so that you do not feel as if you are working on technique. Even more importantly it develops your reading and interpretation skills, it makes you think about technique related to music and it is completely satisfying!

There is so much to enjoy and to work with in this volume, developing important skills whilst enjoying some excellent music. I would say an essential book for all guitarists from grade 4 upwards.

Selina.

88

Modern Times (Full Edition)

Chanterelle

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60 Original Graded Contemporary Works for Guitar. Edited by Robert Brightmore. First published in five separate volumes, each original book is progressive and presents carefully selected pieces, graded in accordance with the various grading standards worldwide. The originality and imagination of the composers presented here speaks for itself and we hope that Modern Times will be a source of pleasure to players and teachers alike.

Skill Level
Intermediate

I was uncertain about this volume at first as I have experienced a lot of contemporary repertoire that has been uninspiring and unhelpful for younger/inexperienced players.

However, in order to write a "proper" review I have played through the book several times and I have found many of the pieces to be very enjoyable, exploring technical and musical possibilities on the guitar in a way that inspires and encourages the player rather than putting them off!

In the introduction the editor explains the priorities behind this collection of pieces, the overriding consideration being -"musical expression dictating the required technique should be foremost in the mind, thus initiating a more creative approach to music making."

The pieces were originally published in five volumes, each one progressive and graded in line with various grading standards. Published from 1987 to 1993 with this revised edition arriving on the shelves in 2007.

Here lies my only problem with this collection.

Grading standards in 1987 were very different than those of today, especially the very latest syllabi, but there is no mention of this in the introduction or effort to adapt the grading ideas to today’s thinking.

My immediate reaction was that the pieces are 1 or 2 grades more difficult than stated, by today’s standards.

It is important to point this out for less experienced teachers or those teaching themselves. However I think that this is a very valuable collection of pieces and one that should be used.

There are many different styles from around the world ranging from popular, to descriptive to dissonant and challenging, all with musical and technical goals to achieve.

There are some beautiful melodies that encourage the player to sing through the guitar. My particular favorite, "Chanson Du Marin Disparu" has one of the best and most poignant bass melodies I have ever played!

The pieces are all very well written for the guitar, exploring various musical techniques with a wide variety of rhythms, melodies and rich harmonies. Some require control of long, slow melodic phrases and others, like "Sea Picture" find melody out of flowing arpeggios that are very evocative of the title.

Other highlights for me include "Chinese Blossom" with its slow and expressive arpeggios; "Motivo de Danza" – a joyful piece; "Arpege" with wonderful harmony and so much room for expression, and "Cancion de Cuna" where the player can really learn expression and shape through scrunchy harmonies!

I have only just noticed that many of the pieces are slow and use descriptive instructions like tranquillo, misterioso, nostalgie, calmo and molto espessivo – all allowing the guitar to sing.

Ihighly recommend this book as it will introduce a wide and new range of music to students, primarily encourage musicianship and expression, and be very enjoyable for the player and the listener.

Selina.

musdivertissements

Divertissements Pour Guitar

Gerard Montreuil

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A collection of fourteen entertaining pieces written by the noted musician and teacher, Gerard Montreuil. Players will be delighted by the short pieces, leading to greater skill on the guitar and opportunity for further study.

Skill Level
Beginner
musguitaristsprogress1

The Guitarists Progress Book 1

David Burden

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This collection of guitar pieces takes the beginning guitar student from reading music to playing pieces of approximately Grade Three standard. It leaves the teaching of technique, hand positions, and other fundamentals to the teacher but provides material for all aspects of the very early stages of learning the guitar.

Skill Level
Beginner
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116

Suite Castellana

Federico Moreno Torroba

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Guitar Solo. By Federico Moreno-Torroba. Arranged by Andres Segovia. Published by Schott Music. Contents: Fandanguillo * Arada * Danza

Skill Level
Advanced
115

Homenaje Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy

Manuel de Falla

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After the death of Debussy in 1918 Falla was asked to contribute to the planned memorial issue of Revue Musicale. Originally asked for an article Falla preferred to respond with a piece of music.

Skill Level
Advanced
114

Libra Sonatine

Roland Dyens

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A piece of three movements consisting of A - India, B - Largo, C - Fuoco. Definately a tour de force, this piece will request much from the player yet will deliver something special to both the player and the audience. 11 pages of music Published by Editions Henry Lemoine

Skill Level
Advanced
113

Deux Airs Populaires Cubains

Leo Brouwer

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Guitar Solo. By Leo Brouwer. Contents: Quajira Criolla (on a theme by d'Anckerman) * Zapateado. These pieces are quite unusual, full of folk character and melody expertly blended with a contemporary feel, fantastic harmonies and clashes, contrasting textures and techniques and Brouwer's usual exciting use of rhythm and articulation.

Skill Level
Advanced

These pieces are quite unusual, full of folk character and melody expertly blended with a contemporary feel, fantastic harmonies and clashes, contrasting textures and techniques and Brouwer's usual exciting use of rhythm and articulation.

These pieces are quite unusual, full of folk character and melody expertly blended with a ‘contemporary’ feel, fantastic harmonies and clashes, contrasting textures and techniques and Brouwer’s usual exciting use of rhythm and articulation.

The pieces are difficult but very ‘guitaristic’ meaning that they flow nicely under the fingers and once you have learnt the fingering and technique you get a lot of satisfaction from the freedom of movement around the guitar and through the music.

The melodies are lovely but come with a twist, keeping you on your toes and piquing your (and the listeners) interest!

Both pieces are marked with 2 time signatures, ‘simple’ 3 in a bar 3/4 and ‘compound’ 2 in a bar 6/8. This is great for learning how to feel the pulse and for recognizing and highlighting the differences. The overall structure of the pieces is also similar with an ‘A’ section that returns after contrasting ‘B’ and ‘C’ sections.

The pizzicato arpeggio melodies at the beginning of Guajira have lovely lilt and movement highlighted by the wide range of pitch and the 3 voices ‘talking’ in counterpoint are very effective in the first contrasting section. When this melody returns in the major key it is more expansive with the music opening out before the return of the pizzicato theme from the beginning bringing the piece to a fading finish.

The introduction of Zapateado is also lilting in character, 4 bars of 6/8 and 4 bars of 3/4, repetitive and with a narrow range of notes that gives quite a restless feel to the music.

The second section has a melody that changes in pulse throughout with a lower voice that uses the opposite pulse, for example the upper voice is in 3/4 with the lower voice in 6/8 and in the next bar they swap! This is syncopated rhythm that needs real concentration at first but once mastered gives great results and is very satisfying. The ‘C’ section has 2 voices starting high and an octave apart and gradually converging, again with crossing rhythms and a sense of the music building and then losing tension towards the return of the opening section at the end.

The symmetry in the music is very clever giving us ideas to hang on to, always drawing the listener in but never sounding predictable. These are 2 beautiful little pieces, an enticing musical style captured in an instant.

Selina.

121

Solo Now Volume 3

Chanterelle

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The aim of the three Solo Now! books is to provide the elementary guitarist with a progressive and stimulating collection of pieces that specifically develop one of the most fundamental guitar techniques-that in which the right hand-thumb and fingers combine to play mainly broken chord configurations using the triando stroke. Volumes 1 and 2 take great care to try to minimize the demands made on the left hand so that the student can focus on the formations of a stable right hand technique.

Skill Level
Intermediate

The aim of the three Solo Now! books is to provide the elementary guitarist with a progressive and stimulating collection of pieces that specifically develop one of the most fundamental guitar techniques – that in which the right hand thumb and fingers combine to play mainly broken chord configurations using the tirando stroke.

The main principles behind the EGTA series of didactic music are establishing a good, balanced technique while not putting excessive demands on the hands of young players. Much of the 19th century teaching repertoire is focussed on developing the right hand but in doing so does make life difficult for the left hand! In these Solo Now books, the brief for composers was to concentrate on the right hand while keeping the left hand relatively simple.

Volume 1 concentrates on establishing the sense of “placement” of pima over a set of strings and maintaining a relaxed hand shape while playing across the strings. The left hand is mostly limited to placing one finger at a time, and keeps to 1st position.

In volume 2 the right hand is developed to include playing consecutive notes on a single string as well as more difficult arpeggio figurations. The left hand now has more double stopping and extensive use of 2nd and 3rd positions.

Volume 3 has a lot more left hand work including barre and slurring techniques, and movement over the first 5 positions. The right hand has more varied combinations of fingers, as you would find in most pieces, the culmination of the balanced and relaxed hand technique developed in the previous volumes.

When the aims of the books are laid out like this, it sounds like the pieces are going to be very dreary and technical but that is certainly not the case here. Nor are they very contemporary and difficult to interpret! In addition to the technical ideals, musicianship is the key.

There are lots of stories, feelings and pictures in the music with inspiring titles like “Chatterbox”, “Cowboy in the Saddle” and “Aquarium”. In fact, in looking through these books I have come to realise how important a title can be in giving us ideas and feelings to communicate in our playing.

There is extensive use of phrase lines throughout the series, wide ranging dynamics, articulation and musical indications that get progressively more detailed. There are excellent melodies, especially in the bass, and interesting rhythms that are contemporary but easily accessible through the titles.

In volume 1 “Toy Soldiers” starts the series with an excellent marching bass line maintained throughout; the “Stone Circle” requires thought and a picture to capture the majesty and “Three Ghosts” is marked “dark distant and cold”- a real challenge for the player! “Going for a Spin” at the beginning of volume 2 has a lovely, lilting quaver movement with the melody singing from the arpeggios; in “Ducks and Swans” you can really hear the difference between the graceful swans and quacking ducks – great fun! If you close your eyes at the beginning of “Circles in the Water” you can see the widening ripples and “Whirligig” makes you want to dance with a strong pulse and uplifting melody.

The pieces in volume 3 are a lot busier and more challenging but still continuing the original right hand arpeggio ideas within pieces with 2 and sometimes 3 voices. “Wishing Well” has a beautiful, relaxed melody with some scrunchy harmonies and in “Aquarium” you can follow the fish swimming over the arpeggio accompaniment! “Carillon” is a great finale to the series with a joyful stream of semiquavers forming arpeggios and melodies, syncopated bass notes and exciting harmonies.

These are just a few examples from a wide range of pieces in this series that are written with very important technical considerations in mind but also manage to inspire listening and musical invention, and are great fun to play! Ideal early repertoire.

Selina.

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