When working out the choreography to a new interpretation there are a few aspects of left hand technique that can dramatically improve efficiency. One of those aspects involves a similar idea often referred to as ‘planting’ for the right hand. For example, when playing a rapid and repeated pim arpeggio (like in Asturias), it is common practice to place all three fingers down in a group to stabilize the right hand and to create one efficient gesture instead of three separate actions. The basic rule is that as we move away from p and towards a across string we plant fingers down so the right hand fingers are prepared. Essentially, we stabilize the right hand as we move away from the grounding of p and i.
Applying this concept to the left hand is equally important but the ‘planting’ occurs as we move from finger 4 (pinky) towards finger…
One of the positive things to emerge from the pandemic has been the OMNI Foundation’s pairing of world class filming with world class guitarists from all over the world. I wanted to highlight a few of these OMNI on Location Series performances which I’ve listened to multiple times for their displays of stunning musicality, virtuosity, and beauty.
I just stumbled upon Tonebase‘s Marco Tamayo interview as it was live the other day (lucky me!) and thought I would share it here since there is so much valuable insight from one of the guitar world’s most gifted artists. As many of you already know, Marco’s command of the guitar is legendary. He is also a gifted educator who teaches at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. I’d also recommend checking out his technique videos on Tonebase (and if you use the code SSJ-30 you’ll receive 30% a subscription to all of their guitar videos after the free trial period).
Brilliant rising star of the guitar world, Mateusz Kowalski, just released a magical rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze from Cantata, BWV208 and is about to release two wonderfully produced videos to bring in the New Year. Six String Journal is offering a preview here as a short recital to inspire those New Year resolutions.
After watching Eliot Fisk demonstrate all of these, I thought I would write them out and share them with students. I have to confess that although I practiced scales religiously (and still do) I rarely ever went through modes. There are many reasons to work on these though: ear training, technique development, and for fingerboard familiarity.
The first form has the root starting on string 3, the second form has the root starting on string 4 and the third form works for both strings 5 or 6. Two-octave forms can easily be assembled by combining two forms. Scale diagrams have been included as I find them extremely helpful for visualizing the pattern as it falls on the fretboard.
Ever since hearing Eliot Fisk’s recording of this sonata, I’ve wanted to learn it. I tried Eliot’s brilliant transcription years ago but my smaller hands couldn’t even play it poorly. Then a good friend showed me French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau’s version and it rekindled the desire to learn it. This edition was transcribed by the Spanish guitarist Marcos Díaz, which is a bit more tame of a transcription but nonetheless it retains a good amount of substance on the guitar. I’ve changed some minor things that work better for my hands and for my ear. The manic quality of this sonata is another glimpse into Domenico Scarlatti’s fertile musical mind. It conjures images of chaos, bliss, seriousness, dementia, and lots of emotions that I cannot pinpoint. A bit trippy. : )
I just came across this new release by virtuoso, Sanel Redzic. On a mission to record videos of all the Lute and Violin Suites, Sonatas, and Partitas, this is the latest of his superbly produced work. Sanel’s playing is, as usual, elegant, refined, and fluid. Enjoy!
This is the first of five wonderful preludes by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. With his gift for sorrowful lyrical melodies to the rhythmic and joyful interlude with its changing meters and Spanish flair, Villa Lobos creates a true guitar masterpiece which fully exploits the richness, emotional depth, and colors of the guitar. Hope you enjoy it.
One of Italy’s rising guitar virtuosas, Carlotta Dalia, plays Mertz’s arrangement of Schubert’s Ständchen. Producer Open Strings Berlin manages to align all the the stars: Carlotta’s sublime artistry, a forest in Berlin, the magnificent guitar, and beautiful camera work.
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) wrote over 500 sonatas for harpsichord. Fortunately, many have been arranged and transcribed for guitar and many await transcription. During 2020 and 2021 I found myself in the Scarlatti rabbit hole. I listened to hundreds of them, read through ones that I thought might work that to my knowledge had not been transcribed, transcribed many for solo and duo guitar, learned too many to keep track of, and am still learning. They captivate my imagination and they teach me a lot about myself and my playing.
Sonata in E Major, K.380 is, perhaps, one of Scarlatti’s most famous sonatas. With its march-like rhythm to the emerging beautiful lyrical lines, Scarlatti’s boundless imagination sparkles. I used a combination of editions (but primarily Manuel Barrueco’s) and the original score to find a version that works for my hands. Hope you enjoy it.
And as a bonus, while researching some of the sonatas, I came across this hilarious article ranking the Sonatas. : )