Derbyshire Suite and Circles End by Steve Marsh

Difficulty I (from about grade 3)

I have decided to include these pieces in my repertoire list because of their emphasis on musicianship and creating a picture or a story from the music that you play.

The music is written by a guitarist, for guitarists of intermediate level, from about a grade 3 standard upwards to grade 6 or 7, although there are some more advanced passages in Derbyshire Suite.

The idea of musicality and communication can get lost as you are learning because of the technical demands of the instrument and of the written music.

Steve Marsh’s music almost forces you to consider the shape and feel of the pieces. The writing helps you with this, with rhythms and harmonies that create momentum and atmosphere for you to develop.

For example in Kinder Downfall from the Derbyshire Suite the fast, tumbling arpeggios give you a real sense of a dramatic waterfall, and the syncopated melody within the arpeggios and the dissonant harmonies definitely create a mysterious feel in Bleaklow.

All of the pieces in Circles End are full of character and interest from the gentle rise and fall of flight in The Seagull to the bubbling arpeggio texture of the Mountain Stream and the macabre, spinning twists and turns of The Haunted Carousel.

There is also a lot of disguised technical work in these volumes, particularly in arpeggio patterns and finding melodies from within the texture of the music.

As well as quite dense textures there are some simple and beautiful melodies in Lathkill Dale and Millers Dale (Derbyshire) and The Rainbow and Song for a Gentle Maiden (Circles).

Most importantly all of these pieces demonstrate that you do not have to be fast, flashy and complicated to get enjoyment for yourself and your listeners. One of the guitars greatest assets is soft, gentle and singing melodies, and music that is easy to listen to and that concentrates on telling a story is very rewarding.


B = beginner. Grades 1-3 or roughly 1-3 years playing. I = intermediate. Grades 4-6 or roughly 4-5 years playing. A = advanced. Grade 7 and above, 6 years or more experience.