The three volumes of One + One contain arrangements of music from the renaissance, baroque, classical and romantic periods as well as folk-song settings and new compositions written specially for the EGTA Series. New compositions, even though they don’t apply to the exam list repertoire, are included, in order to maximise the books’ general value to the player and to show how this approach can work for all types of music.
These volumes of duets were conceived and put together through the efforts of EGTA, the European Guitar Teachers Association, and are designed to help students develop their musicianship, co ordination, tone and articulation without the excessive physical demands that the chordal and contrapuntal repertoire can impose, particularly on the left hand.
The pieces were the first duets to be used in the ABRSM guitar syllabus, a change in approach that has been invaluable for encouraging students and introducing them to repertoire that would have previously been inaccessible until much later. Of course, it also promotes ensemble playing and all the rhythmical, musical and “communication” benefits that this brings, as well as being so much fun!
There is a comprehensive preface to each volume, which is important to read as it outlines the ideals in general as well as the technical demands and thoughts about fingering, positions and musical indications. It is great that fingering has been kept to a minimum and the preface makes it clear that the fingerings that have been added are just suggestions based on achieving the best musical result.
There is a wide variety of repertoire represented from the Renaissance to the present day, including arrangements of music by Dowland, Purcell, Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, as well as original, contemporary guitar pieces. I was a little disappointed not to find any arrangements from the guitar solo repertoire, since there is so much to choose from that would provide an insight into the world of the classical guitar – in other words all the exciting things to come!
All the student parts are single line melodies across the two volumes.
Volume 1 stays in first position, with pieces tending to use the bass or treble voices so working on the separate articulation of fingers and thumb. The arrangements are very well done with a lot of emphasis on ensemble skills i.e. counting and listening, and a good mix of popular and unknown melodies.
In volume 2 fingers and thumb are combined within pieces and left hand positions range from first to fourth. In both books there are some challenging rhythms and time signatures with the articulation and musical indications getting more detailed in volume 2.
There are also some quite unusual and tricky accompaniments in these arrangements, which is worth noting for teachers!
I have to admit to finding some of the modern melodies a little “dry” and more difficult to follow (for young ears) especially when being played without accompaniment. However, overall, there are plenty of lovely tunes, lots of invaluable ensemble experience and counting practice and a strong emphasis on the importance of melody and phrasing.
Grade 1 (volume 1)
- Riggadoon: a lively, straightforward melody using the treble strings.
- German Dance: another energetic piece in ¾ time using a dotted crotchet rhythm and some accents.
- Theme from Rosamunde: this is a flowing, Andante melody, with some longer quaver passages.
Grade 2 (volume 2)
Minuet: this piece is in F major, has some detailed phrasing indications and uses 2nd and 3rd positions.
A Fairy Tale: the phrasing is detailed again here with a strong, rhythmical, flowing melody and quite a lot of accidentals!
Slavonic Waltz: this piece is marked con moto and has a clear character with a contrasting second section and change of key signature.
Grade 3 (volume 2)
- Musette en Rondeau: this is a lovely dance in ¾ with long quaver passages in treble and bass voices.
- Sweet Reveries: marked Andante, this piece requires long legato phrasing with detailed dynamic control. A dotted quaver rhythm is used throughout and the left hand plays up to the 7th fret.