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

297

Guitar Music from The Student Repertoire

John Mills

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A collection of sixty selected pieces, placed in graded sequence, offering a wealth of material for the student to study. In terms of musical and technical value all of these pieces are worthwhile for both personal pleasure and for public performance should you wish. Aguado, Carcassi, Dowland, Milan, Sor, Tarrega and more.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate

This is a lovely collection of pieces, very well put together and thought out. It is a fantastic repertoire resource with pieces that are very enjoyable to play and listen too, while teaching you new techniques and ideas. As John Mills says in his forward, all sixty pieces also provide excellent performance material and can encourage students to play to others and widen their musical experience and knowledge.

There are 8 pages of study notes with information on style, structure, fingering, and techniques such as slurring and balance of voices in chords and counterpoint. These notes are helpful for students in understanding what they are working towards and to teachers for ideas, however in some cases there is a little too much detail.

For example the notes for no.20, Estudio no.1 by Tarrega start with “In this little right hand study the 4th, 7th, and 10th notes should be played using rest strokes.” The problem here is that there is no explanation - why should we use rest stroke? Obviously the intention is to highlight the notes, but this is not made clear.

My advice is to read the study notes as there is a lot of good information and advice included, and then use them to ask questions as you learn the music rather than just following ‘instructions’. We are all capable of listening to the music as we learn and deciding how we want to play it. Having so many pieces with so much variety in one book is great for developing these skills.

The difficulty is graduated through the book, starting with some lovely little pieces by Aguado, Giuliani, Carulli and Sor suitable for beginners of about 6 months to a years experience (depending on age, speed of learning, etc).

I would certainly recommend playing from the beginning even if you are at a higher level, there is much to be learnt from this music and it also provides great sight-reading practice!

There are many old favourites included in the collection; Giuliani’s Andante in C (Tales of the Riverbank), Estudio no.1 by Tarrega with the melody appearing from within the arpeggio texture, Carcassi’s gorgeous study in A (op.60, no.3), lots of Sor studies including the B minor op.35, no.22, and Adelita by Tarrega.

I loved coming back to the Milan Pavanes, lovely serene pieces with great depth and the particular challenge of playing long sustained notes and chords. I also really enjoyed the movements from de Visee’s D minor suite, an excellent introduction to the Baroque period and music that has stayed with me since I first playing it 35 years ago. A lot of these pieces are found in separate books and more obscure editions meaning that a lot of people do not get access due to availability and cost.

This book gives you the taster that can then lead you to explore further or simply enjoy the pieces you have. Particular favourites for me include a Passamezzo (Anon. no.29) with lovely voicing and harmony, Minuet by Diabelli (no.39) with exciting musical shaping and texture where you can be your own little orchestra, and most especially a fantastic little prelude by Tarrega.

My recommendation for this book is summed up by the fact that I am now going to learn this Prelude, and also return to look at Tarregas other preludes and studies (as well as the de Visee!)

A collection like this is so valuable in extending our experience of the Classical Guitar and its music, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Selina.

296

Bach Lute Suites for Guitar

J. S. Bach

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The complete works for lute solo newly transcribed and annotated, including historical and performance notes. This publication is very nicely printed with space between lines and around notes so for those of us who either wear or should wear spectacles it makes life a lot easier. This edition is Selina's favourite and in her opinion the best!

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced
295

100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies

Frederick Noad

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One hundred studies from the works of three outstanding composers, Sor, Giuliani & Carcassi. All of these studies are invaluable to the guitarist, as well as developing right and left hand technique they are a pleasure to play and listen too. With each study Noad has added a brief note which assists and encourages. This edition is great for both student and teacher.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced

This is a fantastic resource for guitarists of all ages and standards. If you are a beginner it is a great investment for the future, and if you have been playing for a few years it presents lovely pieces through which you can develop your technique and your musicianship. The Classical in the title not only refers to our instrument but to the period from which the music originates. The 19th century guitar repertoire is often under rated but is, in my opinion indispensible.

This edition represents great value for money, including all of Carcassi’s Op.60 as well as many of the well known Sor studies, for example the B minor arpeggio study, op.31 no.6 the detached quaver chords and op.6 no.6 the moving thirds in A major. The Giuliani studies tend to be less well known as there are so many that have not really been collected into dedicated edition for students.

There are some lovely examples here that really help you to work on specific aspects of technique such as arpeggios, moving intervals and chord movement while giving you lots of drama and excitement musically. Giuliani’s Opus 1 is well represented, giving a tantalizing taster to a group of studies and exercises that no guitarist should be without.

The book is very well laid out and clearly printed with a short paragraph of musical and technical notes for each of the 100 studies, and most importantly sensible levels of fingering!

This gives you great confidence as a player particularly if you don’t have a teacher to help you.

There is also a fairly brief but comprehensive introduction covering the editors ideas in the selection and grading of pieces as well as historical notes on each composer, Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani and Matteo Carcassi.

Frederick Noad produced some great collections for students really opening out the guitar repertoire for everyone to enjoy. There are too many favourites here for me to mention, a real treasure trove!

Selina.

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294

Sonatina Meridional

Manuel M Ponce

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Adapted by Andres Segovia and printed by Schott. Three pieces form the sonatina and here Schott receive top marks for the quality, clarity and layout of the printing which really does make the studying that much easier. The three pieces work well together and the quantity of dynamics helps tremendously with ones understanding of the music.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

A definate for anyone who likes variety of expression, tone and technique. In this day and age of downloading I still prefer and enjoy a printed book and here the Schott edition is quality paper and quality printing bringing a nice feeling to ones practice time.

The sonatina starts with Campo, with an indication of Allegretto, this, I feel, allows you the emotional freedom to enjoy and interpret the music where if the marking was Allegro the extra speed indication would tend to make the music too fast for the ear to enjoy. Campo offers the player scope to work with tonal colour and to enjoy flashes of technique for both hands. If this is the first time you are stepping up to this level of musical challenge do be careful with the occasional left hand stretch, time spent in practice and attention to detail are worth the effort and will ensure you understand and enjoy the music.

Copla the second movement is to be played Andante. Copla, "A unit of verse consisting of two successive lines, usually rhyming and having the same meter often forming a complete thought". Looking at the music one finds plenty of demi semi quavers, don't be put off, keep the speed down and feel the movement carrying you forward. Personally I like to keep strict time using expression and dynamic to give the music its feeling of movement. Keeping alive the idea of two lines working together really does pay dividends.

Fiesta, now if you started too fast in the Campo and forgot to pull everything back with the Copla then here in the Fiesta you are going to wish you had used more control. The Fiesta has a dynamic marking of Allegro con brio and yes the con brio is a definite must not only for the music but also for your enjoyment. Gone are the demi semi quavers, now we have broken chords, rasgueado sections, dynamic indications of "Violento" "Destacado con humor" "Ironica", in fact reading just the dynamic indications tells you so much about the music and really brings the work to life.

What I really like about this music is that it sounds exciting and is very rewarding to learn irrespective of your current level of playing. If you can get your fingers around the notes, go for it and don't worry if someone else on YouTube plays it faster than you.

Adrian.

292

Easy Pieces from Shakespeares Time Vol.2

Karl Scheit

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A characteristic of the musical practices of the time was the freedom with regards to the choice of instrument. Here the editor has brought this same freedom this guitar edition. The volume contains well known and enjoyable pieces such as Toy, Packington's Pond, Kemp's Jig. In total there are 15 pieces to experience and enjoy. 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.

290

City Scenes

Gary Ryan

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Three original compositions Rush, Metropolis & Birds Flew Over The Spire. These works are challenging and very musical with The Birds Flew Over The Spire being one of the most popular pieces enjoyed by our own students and others who hear it played. If you are looking for new pieces to play and enjoy, City Scenes is a must have item.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

We came across this book through the Trinity grade 5 syllabus which includes the third piece Birds Flew over the Spire. If you read my guitar reviews you will recognize this as one of my firm favourites because it is a beautiful little piece of music, using the guitar so well and highlighting what the classical guitar is best at. The pieces in this book are very contrasting and fit beautifully within the title City Scenes.

Rush was originally conceived as a study for the right hand thumb and is full of energy, with the 5/4 time signature constantly pushing the music forward, a strong bass melody and lots of syncopation and articulation. It is great to see how adding a title and ‘story’ to a study can transform it into an exciting, descriptive piece of music.

Metropolis is a long piece with a difficult rhythm that looks very complex on the page but is fine once you get into the swing of it, as long as you work it out properly with counting first! The way that Gary uses material gives a real bustle to the music with gradually evolving patterns and harmonies and repeated sections bringing in subtle changes of mood.

In the preface Gary describes it as “the non-stop bustle of a musical city where influences combine from many different ages and musical cultures.” Birds flew over the Spire is a wonderful relaxation after this with lovely campanella harmonies accompanying a fluid melody that twists and turns gently depicting the birds floating on thermals and warm currents of air. It is great for fingerboard knowledge and left hand movement but, more importantly for listening ad enjoying the musical phrasing.

The preface by the composer is very good and the music is well laid out with clear fingering (not too much) and musical instructions.

This is definitely music to have fun with!

Selina.

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288

Specimen Aural Tests 2011 Grades 1 - 3

ABRSM

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Aural tests are an integral part of all ABRSM Practical graded music exams. The Specimen Aural Tests provide teachers and students with many practice examples of the tests to use as part of a music lesson or when preparing for an exam. This volume covers Grades 1–3 and includes practice examples for each test in a range of musical styles the examiner rubrics (the exact words that will be used by the examiner to deliver the tests), so that candidates can be fully prepared for what will happen on the day. Descriptions of the tests as they appear in the syllabus model answers, where appropriate, as a guide to the sort of responses that would be successful in the exam. The Specimen Aural Tests come complete with 2 CDs.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate
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289

Specimen Aural Tests 2011 Grades 4 & 5

ABRSM

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Aural tests are an integral part of all ABRSM Practical graded music exams. The Specimen Aural Tests provide teachers and students with many practice examples of the tests to use as part of a music lesson or when preparing for an exam. This volume covers Grades 4 & 5 and includes practice examples for each test in a range of musical styles the examiner rubrics (the exact words that will be used by the examiner to deliver the tests), so that candidates can be fully prepared for what will happen on the day. Descriptions of the tests as they appear in the syllabus model answers, where appropriate, as a guide to the sort of responses that would be successful in the exam. The Specimen Aural Tests come complete with 2 CDs.

281

Pumping Nylon Level Easy

Scott Tennant

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The pieces in this book are selected and designed around the various techniques addressed in Pumping Nylon. They are offered as an extension of the exercises presented in that book and to provide attractive and easy pieces in which to apply the various techniques. CD Included.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate

I do find the title and cover of this book (and the technique book of the same name) very inappropriate to represent my beautiful and lyrical classical guitar, however, once I had got past this I could see the huge benefits for a student of the guitar, namely the great collection of varied pieces from old to brand new.

The variety of music is fantastic with a firm base in the 19th century, a grounding that we should all have, and the book is very well presented. The preface is very interesting especially for me as I have long highlighted the importance of the 19th century repertoire. I do disagree with Tennant’s initial description of this music – “old fashioned, boring” - but I am glad that he has seen the light in putting the book together!

He explains how the pieces are chosen with technical development in mind and in the table of contents he has a checklist so that you can easily choose the areas that you would like to concentrate on. Each piece then has its own checklist for you to think about and develop as you learn. There is also a glossary of the musical terms and signs used, something that many of us neglect to learn!

Studies by Sor, Carcassi, Giuliani and Tarrega sit happily alongside exercises and pieces by York and Tennant and I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of 3 Pavans by Luis Milan, quite intricate and beautiful pieces that require good control of chords and multiple voices. Other, less well known, favourites of mine are the two little studies by Giuliani offering excellent right hand balance practice, Sor’s op. 35 no. 18 which has fantastic harmonic movement and again works on balance in the right hand, that is evenness of strokes with all fingers and thumb, Carcassi’s Etude no. 6 from op 60 that carries a beautiful flowing melody with the thumb and a lovely slur study by Giuliani.

Snowflight by Andrew York is a simple arpeggio piece that creates a beautiful, dream like atmosphere and A Pale View by David Pritchard is so gentle and unusual and I love it, with sustaining melody over campanella arpeggiated harmonies – a new one for the collection!

I do not necessarily agree with all the ideas and methods of practice presented in the checklists, however it is great to read these ideas and investigate how the pieces work. For me it is great to use as a reference, but mainly offers an excellent collection for any guitarist to work with and expand their knowledge of the repertoire. You can also enjoy all the quotes! My favourites are; serious – “The language of music is understood everywhere” (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and humerous – “I know what a sextet is, but I’d rather not say.” (from a grade school essay on classical music)!

Selina.

282

Pumping Nylon Intermediate

Scott Tennant

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Welcome to the second installment of the repertoire supplements to Pumping Nylon. As the title indicates these pieces are more advanced and are primarily concert pieces. Consider this book to be a brief representation of the types of pieces that contain specific technique building elements. When practiced correctly they aid in the development of your guitar playing skills. CD included.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

I do find the title and cover of this book (and the technique book of the same name) very inappropriate to represent my beautiful and lyrical classical guitar, however, once I had got past this I could see the huge benefits for a student of the guitar, namely the great collection of varied pieces from old to brand new.

The pieces in this book offer a wide and varied ‘dip’ into the guitar repertoire from The Frog Galliard by Dowland, to a Coste study, a Villa Lobos inspired Etude and on to the cadenza from Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo!

The preface explains how these are primarily concert pieces and therefore more substantial in technique, musicianship and length than in the previous volume. Tennant asks us to consider the book as a brief representation of the types of pieces that contain specific technique-building elements and, when practiced correctly and with intent, will aid in developing your guitar playing skills.

The techniques highlighted include arpeggios, left hand finger independence, chord balancing and specific techniques like tremolo. Each piece has its own checklist and a short explanation for its inclusion in the book. It is very valuable to be able to see the technical development needed in your various pieces so that you can practice them in the correct way, but it is also very important not to forget, and to make sure that you spend plenty of time practicing, the musical elements. Tennant has hinted at this in some of his descriptions, for example Variations sur les ‘Folies d’Espagne’ by Giuliani – “a typical and lovely variation set”, and The Frog Galliard – “I hope you derive as much joy from it as I have over the years.”

As in the previous volume the music is very diverse and offers as much experience in musical style as in technique. There are long flowing phrases and lovely harmonies in pieces by Milan and Narvaez, great fun in the Folies Variations by Giuliani and a fantastic study by Coste which inspires musicianship through the sounds produced by detailed articulation and slurs.

Alongside these are 2 flamenco studies by Adam del Monte that offer the classical student wonderful technical development and musical excitement and Plainte by Brian Head where voicing is the challenge, definitely not only a technical challenge. Having the cadenza from the Aranjuez is the icing on the cake and is guaranteed to make you feel good!

A book like this gives us many choices and experiences, as long as we use it with an open mind, don’t blindly follow technical checklists but use them as a guide and source of ideas for you to develop, and most of all enjoy playing the music.

Selina.

283

Progressive Reading for Guitarists

Stephen Dodgson and Hector Quine

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Only recently sight reading on the guitar was described as a nightmare. The traditional way of learning to play the guitar is to start in first position then gradually work up the fretboard. This book dispenses with this method. To obtain the best from this material read the Preface and introduction where there is information on how best to use the book. I have found this to be the best book written for becoming at ease with the guitar fretboard.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
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276

Latin America

Gerald Schwertberger

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This is simply a great little book full of sunshine and life! Schwertberger manages to capture the spirit of the dances without making the notes too complicated. What more can I say?

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate

This is simply a great little book full of sunshine and life! Schwertberger manages to capture the spirit of the dances without making the notes too complicated.

Interestingly, in the Preface the composer says “The point of this edition is to introduce guitarists to these dances, with all their appealing banality and stereotype turns of phrase.” In this he has been successful and although (or perhaps because) the music is not deep and meaningful, I was immediately drawn to its life and character and thoroughly enjoyed playing through the pieces.

The pieces are mostly in first position and generally based around chord shapes from which the melodies develop. There is, as you would expect a lot of syncopation, written in such a way that it is not difficult to work out and hear, although you will of course need to count! The greatest challenge is in the tempos; some of the suggested metronome marks are pretty quick and do give excellent results. However the music is still very effective at slower speeds and so provides very good technical development work. He achieves some great effects with rhythm and right hand patterns and each piece has a distinct character.

Highlights for me include Bossa Nova Breeze, which is ‘cool’ and relaxed with good use of chords and emerging melody lines. Nostalgia has a lovely bass melody topped by a syncopated accompaniment that uses some nice scrunchy harmonies. Bamba Samba is simply great fun and Nightwinds has an evocative atmosphere with its combination of rasgueado chords over the melody line.

The final Bossa Nova is a more challenging piece, with a straightforward right hand pattern that goes fast and some interesting harmonies to find.

Overall a book of sunshine that will bring a smile to your face and please and impress your audience.

Selina.

musGiulianiSonataop15

Giuliani Sonata OP.15

Mauro Giuliani

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This is one of those pieces that, throughout my time as a performing guitarist and teacher, has often been criticized for being either too long or boring and put aside for more ‘obviously’ challenging and exciting pieces. In fact I think that the 19th century repertoire in general has suffered with the great influx of modern repertoire and, particularly, crossover styles designed to attract younger players to the classical guitar and hold their interest. Don’t get me wrong – it is fantastic that there is so much more music available to us in a wide variety of styles, I just wish that composers such as Giuliani had a higher profile today since their music teaches us so much and helps to build the foundations of a good player.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

This is one of those pieces that, throughout my time as a performing guitarist and teacher, has often been criticized for being either too long or boring and put aside for more ‘obviously’ challenging and exciting pieces. In fact I think that the 19th century repertoire in general has suffered with the great influx of modern repertoire and, particularly, crossover styles designed to attract younger players to the classical guitar and hold their interest. Don’t get me wrong – it is fantastic that there is so much more music available to us in a wide variety of styles, I just wish that composers such as Giuliani had a higher profile today since their music teaches us so much and helps to build the foundations of a good player.

Don’t get me wrong – it is fantastic that there is so much more music available to us in a wide variety of styles, I just wish that composers such as Giuliani had a higher profile today since their music teaches us so much and helps to build the foundations of a good player.

Of course a Sonata in three movements is not something that guitarists come across very often. Giuliani wanted very much to put the classical guitar on to an even footing with classical music in general and so used classical ‘forms’ in his compositions and arranged music by (and used themes from) Rossini and Beethoven.

Playing this piece really gives us the opportunity to get involved in the Classical style, do a bit of research – the internet these days makes that so easy – and find so much more in the music. All the basic guitar techniques are required here but getting around the notes and the fingering is not enough; doing that is when the piece becomes ‘dull’!

Allegro Spiritoso is an excellent title for the first movement. It is light and bright with wonderful texture and musical drive. Traditionally the first movement of a Sonata was composed in sonata form, consisting of three sections – exposition, development and recapitulation. In the exposition the composer introduces the musical ideas as a number of themes. The material is then ‘developed’ in the development section and then the exposition is repeated and modified in the recapitulation. Just knowing this basic outline gives you so much to look for in the music and your playing.

The main theme is played over an accompanying figure, alternating ‘p’ ‘i’, quite a challenge to achieve the required balance and very effective. Articulation is very important throughout with slurring in particular giving shape and character to melodies and connecting phrases. Often the melodies move in consecutive intervals, that is, passages in thirds, sixths and octaves, which give different levels of drama, tension and direction to the piece.

I particularly like the climax created by the changing harmonies over a repeated D leading towards the second theme, and a new key.

The Development is simple but very effective with the minor key changing the mood and rising arpeggios in triplets and big repeated chords adding to the momentum and excitement, ultimately leading us into the recapitulation, repeating and developing the original theme.

The second movement, Adagio con espressione, requires great control, sustain and subtlety. It is difficult because it is slow and we have to learn to sing the melodies to sustain the direction and meaning of the music, highlighting the importance of breathing for guitarists!

One of the themes here is a high melody flowing over low, repeated chords consisting of alternating thirds and seconds. This is pretty tricky technically and musically! Giuliani is definitely asking the guitarist to play like a small orchestra resulting in a lovely, melancholic feel but needing plenty of patience! There is some lovely decoration in this movement with varying rhythmic movement and delicate shaping of the melodies, finishing with an echo of the main theme from the Allegro.

The third movement, Allegro Vivace is lively and sparkling. It is the most straightforward, providing an exciting, rhythmical, bustling feel to finish off the whole piece. Lots of nice, simple arpeggios, sharp staccato chords and accents contrasting with long, smooth melodies over ‘alberti’ bass patterns, that is alternating ‘p’ ‘i’ in the bass.

The ending however is quite subtle, dropping down in dynamic and making the most of rests and pauses before the final ending chords.

This piece works best if you can use your imagination and really listen to the different textures and emotions in the music.

Be a little orchestra and create different colours as the music changes, recognize the textures that come from the way the notes are written, for example intervals, alternating or repeated notes, chords or arpeggios, rests, slurs and simple melodies.

It is great fun and you do not have to know a lot about the changing harmonies and structure (although this is also fun!) – just use your ears and build up your own musical picture.

Selina.

270

Anthology of Selected Pieces

Silvius Leopold Weiss

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Many of the works of Weiss were originally grouped by common key and it is to be assumed that the composer intended them to be performed as suites. However, it is from a number of unrelated pieces that the present anthology is taken - exceptions being the Ciacona, which belongs to the tenth 'suite', and Pasagaille from the fourteenth. In my opinion the set of eight pieces offered here represents Weiss at his most inspired.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

In my opinion the music of Weiss is a must for every guitarist. It is a great introduction to the music of the Baroque, being written specifically for the lute and so feeling more natural under the left hand when compared to the Bach lute suites

The Baroque lute was of course a very different instrument to our classical guitar, but the only real compromise is on bass lines and this edition is very well done with good explanations about the original music, ornamentation and steps taken to fit the music onto the guitar in the most effective and sympathetic way.

This information (contained in the preface – essential reading!) and the way that the music is fingered gives the player control. This is important; we have to remember that the music is transcribed from another instrument and there should be flexibility for the performer. For example, the editor decides the length of sustained notes as the original tablature does not show this. Burley points this out and it is important to be aware of this when learning the pieces, teaching you to listen to and interpret the music and not just learn technique and fingers.

The pieces in this volume are simply fantastic. The music has great depth and intensity with big chord progressions and sequences, long melodic phrases, wonderful clashes and resolutions in the harmony, lovely scrunchy dissonant chords and real musical drive created through melody and rhythm.

The notes carry us over the whole range of the fingerboard with rising sweeping arpeggios in the Fantasie, very long slow melodies in the Tombeau and lovely variations of melody in the Ciacona and Passagaille. The majesty of the latter is brilliant and overall the pieces are packed with emotion and excitement.

The Capricio is lively with driving counterpoint and great arpeggio chord progressions and the simplicity of the main theme of the Ciacona is sublime, the melody being varied over the same sequence throughout and always returning to that simple statement creating very powerful music.

This is difficult music and requires good technique, rhythm and pulse, however it is the musicality that shines through and teaches us so much about feeling our way through pieces and being directed by the sound and movement of the harmony and melody.

Selina.

mustorrobapiecescaracteristique

Pieces Caracteristiques

Federico Moreno Torroba

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This music is romantic and colourful, evocative not only of Spain and its scenery and music, but also of the traditions of the classical guitar and the music that I grew up listening to and striving to play. Andres Segovia Edition Volume 2 GA 134 includes the pieces entitled, Los Mayos, Albada and Panorama.

Skill Level
Advanced

This music is romantic and colourful, evocative not only of Spain and its scenery and music, but also of the traditions of the classical guitar and the music that I grew up listening to and striving to play. As such it is a part of the repertoire that is often overlooked as our musical tastes change but that can teach us a lot about what our instrument can achieve.

There are three pieces offering contrast in character but strong links in melody that means they work beautifully together. The music is full of strong treble and bass melodies, driving rhythms, exciting harmonies and lots of opportunity for contrasts in articulation and tone. Techniques include fast articulation, control of long slurred passages and fluid movement around the fingerboard.

Los Mayos is strong and bright with an uplifting theme that is used throughout, driving the music forward, lots of chord movement, and some lovely ‘clashy’ harmonies. It is marked Allegro no tanto – quick and cheerful but not too much!

Albada has a great, quirky and quite angular returning theme that contrasts with some lovely tenor melodies on the 4th and 5th strings and a gorgeous tune in the relative minor with a warm syncopated accompaniment. Again the Allegro marking is tempered, this time with gracioso, highlighting character as apposed to straight speed.

The final piece is Panorma, an expansive piece with a Lento Introduction, a central Allegro which develops into a fugal section using the main theme, and a return to the theme of Los Mayos to finish. The Lento consists of beautiful, big chords producing full and rich ‘open’ harmonies which rise and crescendo before falling in triplets with a diminuendo that leads into the Allegro. Now the music moves more quickly alternating between a melody in triads and flowing semiquavers, building into the relative major and towards a brief introduction of the Los Mayos theme before falling towards the fugal section.

Here the main theme from this movement is developed with many entries and echoes in other voices, moving through keys and creating full textures and harmonies, starting low and rising to 2 octaves higher than the first statement before falling back again and finally merging into the final strong statement of the Los Mayos theme. It is all very exciting and finishes with a great ‘big dipper’ run of semiquavers and then 2 lovely, soft, staccato chords – real drama!

This is perfect music for the Classical Guitar – warm and Spanish in character, exciting and dramatic, using all the instrument has to offer and a reflection of a golden age for the guitar.

Selina.

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musvillaconcerto

Concerto

H. Villa-Lobos

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Concerto pour guitar et petit orchestre. Printed by Editions Max Eschig with reduction for guitar and piano. Includes separate printing of guitar part. One day a member of a local orchestra will ask you to name a piece of music which you can both work on. Start the practice now! Don't wait to be asked.

Skill Level
Advanced
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Ten Pieces for Guitar

Alfred Uhl

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Do not be misled by the title, there are only 5 pieces within this edition. Having said that, the music is fun and well written allowing the player freedom to move around the fingerboard. If you are looking for intermediate pieces with which to challenge your sight reading skills and encourage fingerboard speed, look no further.

Skill Level
Intermediate

Playing these pieces really took me back since I played the Aria for my grade 5, what seems like an age ago!

There are three pieces offering contrast in character but strong links in melody that means they work beautifully together. The music is full of strong treble and bass melodies, driving rhythms, exciting harmonies and lots of opportunity for contrasts in articulation and tone. Techniques include fast articulation, control of long slurred passages and fluid movement around the fingerboard.

There are 6 pieces in this volume and I think they are a great set, introducing players to a contemporary style, possibly their first time, while remaining lyrical and fun to play. There is plenty to think about with quite detailed dynamics and articulation, plenty of melodies to follow, clear musical shape and some quirky harmonies.

The Bagatelle is unusual but in a way to get you interested with a strong rhythm and lyrical melody. I love the Aria with its lilting, melancholic melody ebbing and flowing throughout the piece, and the Capriccio is lively quick and rhythmical.

The printing is nicely spaced with quite a lot of fingering, most of which is necessary to convey the movement around the fingerboard.

In fact this is one of the main challenges in the music, very good for reading and fingerboard knowledge while also giving the player plenty to look for in telling the stories of the pieces and experimenting with tone and colour.

Definitely recommended.

Selina.

musabpreptest

Guitar Prep Test

ABRSM

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The guitar prep test has been designed to be taken by guitarists who have been learning for a few terms. Built into it are all the sorts of skills they will be developing at this stage. The book contains specially commissionrd tunes and pieces as well as everything else that the player will need to take the test.

Skill Level
Beginner

This book is very well laid out with great pictures and clear instructions, plus an introduction explaining how to use it.

The book is designed to give young people a first experience of an exam without the pressures of pass/ fail and marks! The examiner signs and dates the book, and writes comments on a certificate that is given to the candidate at the end of the exam.

The first three tunes are little exercises (8 bars long each) demonstrating different techniques – simple 2-part music, simple 2 note chords and arpeggios, and bass notes on strings 5 and 6. There are then 5 ‘set’ pieces, all 2 part music using open basses except for Ball Game that alternates phrases on the treble then bass notes. These are all nice, tuneful and well-written pieces, with stories to tell, for example Balloon Race and Sad Clown.

At the end of the book are some examples of aural training that should be integrated into lessons, for example clapping a pulse, repeating a rhythm and listening for dynamics.

The book is great although I think that the estimate of playing this music after ‘a few terms’ is a little ambitious. The other problem is that the book has not been altered since the syllabus was changed making the repertoire harder than the Grade 1 repertoire.

This aside it provides excellent progression, introducing the sort of techniques that will be necessary later in an accessible way.

Selina.

musspaldingragamufin

Ragamuffin

Gary Spolding

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For players interested in music written in a popular style. The book contains a set of pieces in the style of Rock, Rags, Blues and Boogie all in swing rhythm. Great fun and excellent for classical players to become more adept at a slightly different rhythmical style.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate

This is a great little book written, as Gary explains in the introduction, as several of his grade 3 to 4 students became extremely interested in playing music written in ‘popular’ styles!

This of course encourages students who might otherwise drift away from the classical guitar but it also provides excellent technical and musical development for those of us who love anything and everything classical guitar!

From the simple bass and melody of Little Boy Blues to the more complex repeated chords and higher positions of Clapped Out Blues there is a wide range of character within the overall style, with some challenging rhythms, chords and positions requiring free and confident movement around the fingerboard.

The music is great for helping to develop a feel for the pulse, essential when playing swing and triplet rhythms. Overall the style is very much based on patterns and chord shapes and knowing this can be very helpful in learning the notes higher up the fingerboard.

Looking at it from the other side, the pieces do represent an excellent teaching aid to learning the fingerboard and developing fluency in reading and in left hand technique while having fun! There are also plenty of slurs, bends and glissandos.

The Bass Vamp is great with a riff moving from one string to the next and some tricky slurs off high frets to open strings.

Rock Bass Groove is deceptively easy with simple open string chords accompanying the walking bass line – extremely effective and satisfying.

Slip Slidin’ Rock gets you used to higher notes and slides before moving on to Slick Riff Blues which has some quite complex movement around the fingerboard, slides, slurs and bends.

All in all, not only do these pieces introduce us to new styles without getting too complicated, but a lot of technique is being developed in the background, helping you to relax in playing and progress your overall musicianship.

Selina.

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Four Famous Tangos

Gary Spolding

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Destined to be a best seller this album incorporates four of the music worlds most famous tangos: La Cumparsita, Hernando's Hideaway, El Choclo, Jalousie. Absolutely brilliant arrangements!

Skill Level
Advanced

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised on first playing these four Tangos. To begin with, they really are “famous” and they work really well on the guitar! Of course, this is the result of an excellent transcription. Gary Spolding has managed to maintain the musical shape, rhythms and parts in the music while keeping the transcriptions very “guitaristic”.

The pieces are difficult, about grade 6 – 8, but they do not ask you to be too acrobatic by, for example, twisting fingers into unnatural shapes or stretches, or asking for impossible sustaining parts.

The four pieces are La Cumparsita, Hernando’s Hideaway, El Choclo and Jalousie.

The main technical challenges are in reading a lot of high notes, recognizing positions, and left hand mobility. As you work through the pieces, you will quickly discover that notes and chord shapes fall comfortably under the fingers, and big moves around the fretboard are often facilitated by use of open strings, finger shapes and sliding fingers.

One of my favourite things about the edition is that it is not over fingered! Gary has not used position markings and has only used numbers where necessary for positions, setting up a pattern or indicating sliding shapes and voicing. This means that the performer has to think more but also has much more freedom in interpretation.

There are a lot of dynamic and articulation markings that really help as you are learning to interpret and communicate this style of music, and the guitar effects that he uses highlight the style. All of these things help you to push the boundaries in your playing.

I found myself able to enjoy the Tango rhythms and emotions, and had great fun experimenting and bringing out the humour in the music.

I think that these arrangements encourage a different approach to playing, one that cannot be too technical but is based on enjoying yourself and the music.

After all that is what it is all about!

Selina.

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