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'A golden time ...' from Ariadne auf Naxos (Guitar Solo)

Strauss, Richard

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Strauss's music amounts to a huge body of symphonic and operatic work written over 60 years. Full of vitality, endlessly melodic, brilliantly orchestrated, it begins and ends in the romantic tradition, but for the most part expresses something more modern and individualistic, not without controversy in its time. Variation of style and structure is drawn from the descriptive (literary) nature of compositions, and an extraordinary inventiveness enlivens the scenes, moods and situations. Strauss said once that he produced music the way cows give milk, and indeed his music rarely seems contrived.

The opera

Strauss wrote 15 operas on a variety of subjects and across the whole spectrum of drama. He acknowledged being enchanted by the soprano voice, and his writing for it highlights many of the works, including Adriane auf Naxos (composed in 1912). The opera has been described as 'sparkling', which sums it up well, and passages influenced by Bach, Mozart, Puccini, and Wagner add to the interest. The storyline is a play within a play, the second part being the mythological 'Opera' staged in the story. The three pieces transcribed* are from this Opera.

The guitar arrangements

All classical guitar pieces are compromises. The instrument has only six strings, the left hand four fingers able to be used, and with the right hand it's rare to use more than three fingers and the thumb. So, despite the amount of noise possible, it's inevitable that passages occur where either harmony, bass or fragments of counterpoint that would be beneficial are left out. In particular, the higher up the neck music is played the simpler it tends to be, if harder to play, and unless the low bass is an open string there wont be any.

So I think the main part of attaining a fair transcription (better to be called an arrangement if the original musical structure is not strictly followed, as in this case) is determining how a good compromise can be reached. Melody, counterpoint, bass and main harmonies demand inclusion, and register is important. One may generally assume the original score can't be improved on. However, if the music may sound well on guitar, and the above elements can be incorporated without the playing becoming very difficult, something enjoyable to play and worthwhile listening to should be able to be achieved. 

Overture; 'A golden time …'

 Here the Mozart influence, better, inspiration, is wonderfully evident. A gentle waltz time (only the first section of the overture is transcribed) carries the colourful harmonies, strong melodic threads and connecting flourishes that stamp both pieces. The aria is alluded to in the Overture several times, which as you would expect, is intricately woven with the hints themes later to be established in the Opera. It has a kind of 'jazzy' freedom, and it's always miraculous to me that composition so involved can retain its musical line, here done in Strauss's inimitable way. The aria, sung not far into the Opera, has the perfect inevitability of Mozart, but again it is Strauss. As explained, keys have been changed to suit the guitar.

Chorus and Aria

This selection from the finale has features well worth trying to translate. The device of having a strong chorus, in the style of a Bach chorale, stated and then counterpointed by a solo voice in a restatement, is potent, and that in the opera the chorus (of the three nymphs) isn't immediately followed by the accompanying aria (of Ariadne) means the latter comes as a moment of surprising beauty. Neither parts are complicated, and lovely arpeggios, a feature Strauss's music, often impart the assured progressions. 

A problem was to capture the distinct register of the soprano voices, some statements of which would seem non-negotiable even without knowing the soprano voice was a passion of Strauss's. This could only be done, as intimated above, with some simplification. However the sound was worth working for, and fortunately the repetitive nature of the piece allowed for sections to be played at various registers to good effect, the higher producing the excruciating soprano harmonies.

Also, the original is in Db, so by raising the key a semitone I was able to utilise the guitar's D tuning as a full sounding configuration on which to arrange the piece. I'm fond of harmonics and open strings (in fact, arresting sounds in general) and used them where appropriate (or as sometimes, necessary).

Rod Whittle

* Overture; 'A golden time'; Chorus and Aria

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Adagio fro the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Guitar Solo)

Ravel, Maurice

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Ravel was born in the Basque region of France and much of his work shows a Spanish influence (this, together with his interest in jazz has produced some exceptional guitar transcriptions). He was a pupil of Faure and at first fell, like many contemporary composers, under Debussy's spell. However, his ascetic and intellectual bents produced from the start a refinement of composition and orchestration, and development of melody, all his own. Later music, including the Concerto, shows his love of the rhythmic features of jazz, and thoughtful incorporation of the innovations of modern music – strong dissonance, atonality etc.

With the Adagio the opening theme, which has a long line typical of Ravel, undergoes a series of variations. In waltz time (this feel must be kept up for the intent of the piece to be brought out) over an implacable bass the music marches on with hypnotic effect to the coda, a final gem of roving harmony that descends into quietude.

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Adagio from the Moonlight Sonata (Guitar Solo)

Beethoven, Ludwig van

The Moonlight Sonata

 Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor ''Quasi una fantasia'', popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, was completed in 1801 (at the age of 31) and dedicated to his pupil, Countess Giuciella Guicciardi, whom he later confessed to have been in love with. (It is hard to conceive how she would have felt having something this beautiful dedicated to her.) Already struggling with deafness, Beethoven was yet to write his greatest works, which as you are no doubt aware, are among the most famous ever composed.

The Sonata is a beloved piece because of its haunting Adagio, with which it begins. This is directed to be played with sustained slowness and very quietly, becoming at the loudest mf or ''moderately loud''.

 The transcription:

For guitar I have dropped the key to Am (which I notice other transcribers for guitar have also done: music is restrictive enough for that sort of coincidence to be expected) since this allows a liberal use of the open A and E strings (in the bass), particularly for the E which grounds the tense diminished scale passage before the recapitulation. It also (serendipitously) keeps most of the more difficult passages at the bottom end (the low fret range) which guitarists become familiar with first.

The piece has a signature rhythmic device which is first encountered at the end of bar five. Hard on the heels of the last note of the final triplet a sixteenth note sounds before a half note of the same pitch in the next bar. There is no dynamic change. How best to play it? I think, like everything involved in playing guitar, once you have basic techniques in place the best thing to do is what feels most natural and gives the sound most faithful to the score. In this case I play the last triplet note with the (right) thumb and the sixteenth note with the middle finger (medio), followed by the half note with the middle finger also (all of which I've marked), but another way may be preferred.

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Chorus and Aria from Ariadne auf Naxos (Guitar Solo)

Strauss, Richard

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Strauss's music amounts to a huge body of symphonic and operatic work written over 60 years. Full of vitality, endlessly melodic, brilliantly orchestrated, it begins and ends in the romantic tradition, but for the most part expresses something more modern and individualistic, not without controversy in its time. Variation of style and structure is drawn from the descriptive (literary) nature of compositions, and an extraordinary inventiveness enlivens the scenes, moods and situations. Strauss said once that he produced music the way cows give milk, and indeed his music rarely seems contrived. 

The opera 

Strauss wrote 15 operas on a variety of subjects and across the whole spectrum of drama. He acknowledged being enchanted by the soprano voice, and his writing for it highlights many of the works, including Adriane auf Naxos (composed in 1912). The opera has been described as 'sparkling', which sums it up well, and passages influenced by Bach, Mozart, Puccini, and Wagner add to the interest. The storyline is a play within a play, the second part being the mythological 'Opera' staged in the story. The three pieces transcribed* are from this Opera. 

The guitar arrangements

 All classical guitar pieces are compromises. The instrument has only six strings, the left hand four fingers able to be used, and with the right hand it's rare to use more than three fingers and the thumb. So, despite the amount of noise possible, it's inevitable that passages occur where either harmony, bass or fragments of counterpoint that would be beneficial are left out. In particular, the higher up the neck music is played the simpler it tends to be, if harder to play, and unless the low bass is an open string there wont be any. 

So I think the main part of attaining a fair transcription (better to be called an arrangement if the original musical structure is not strictly followed, as in this case) is determining how a good compromise can be reached. Melody, counterpoint, bass and main harmonies demand inclusion, and register is important. One may generally assume the original score can't be improved on. However, if the music may sound well on guitar, and the above elements can be incorporated without the playing becoming very difficult, something enjoyable to play and worthwhile listening to should be able to be achieved. 

Overture; 'A golden time …' 

Here the Mozart influence, better, inspiration, is wonderfully evident. A gentle waltz time (only the first section of the overture is transcribed) carries the colourful harmonies, strong melodic threads and connecting flourishes that stamp both pieces. The aria is alluded to in the Overture several times, which as you would expect, is intricately woven with the hints themes later to be established in the Opera. It has a kind of 'jazzy' freedom, and it's always miraculous to me that composition so involved can retain its musical line, here done in Strauss's inimitable way. The aria, sung not far into the Opera, has the perfect inevitability of Mozart, but again it is Strauss. As explained, keys have been changed to suit the guitar.

Chorus and Aria

This selection from the finale has features well worth trying to translate. The device of having a strong chorus, in the style of a Bach chorale, stated and then counterpointed by a solo voice in a restatement, is potent, and that in the opera the chorus (of the three nymphs) isn't immediately followed by the accompanying aria (of Ariadne) means the latter comes as a moment of surprising beauty. Neither parts are complicated, and lovely arpeggios, a feature Strauss's music, often impart the assured progressions.

A problem was to capture the distinct register of the soprano voices, some statements of which would seem non-negotiable even without knowing the soprano voice was a passion of Strauss's. This could only be done, as intimated above, with some simplification. However the sound was worth working for, and fortunately the repetitive nature of the piece allowed for sections to be played at various registers to good effect, the higher producing the excruciating soprano harmonies.

Also, the original is in Db, so by raising the key a semitone I was able to utilise the guitar's D tuning as a full sounding configuration on which to arrange the piece. I'm fond of harmonics and open strings (in fact, arresting sounds in general) and used them where appropriate (or as sometimes, necessary).

Rod Whittle

* Overture; 'A golden time'; Chorus and Aria

$2.00   $2.50 Sale

Clair de Lune (Guitar Solo)

Debussy, Claude

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Debussy’s compositions form part of an art movement known as French Impressionism that evolved in France at the end of the 19th Century. He was its leading musical exponent and a seminal influence on modern music. The aim of Impressionism was to reflect mood, which Debussy did with the use of unusual chords and modes which nevertheless progress unerringly through evocative landscapes to peaks of tension. His always careful attention to the whole gives the varying, impalpable sentiments a sense of direction and completion, as this arrangement for guitar of the famous piano piece ‘Clair de Lune’ demonstrates.

 

 

 

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Coda from Pelleas et Melisande (Guitar Solo)

Debussy, Claude

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) 

Debussy’s compositions form part of an art movement known as French Impressionism that evolved in France at the end of the 19th Century. He was its leading musical exponent and a seminal influence on modern music. The aim of Impressionism was to reflect mood, which Debussy did with the use of unusual chords and modes which nevertheless progress unerringly through evocative landscapes to peaks of tension. Careful attention to form gives impalpable sentiments a sense of direction and completion. The lovely Coda from Debussy's only opera, ‘Pelleas and Melisande’, demonstrates this, as well as exhibiting his masterful expression of the dramatic, exquisite without being flowery, forceful but not overblown.

 

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En Bateau (Guitar Solo)

Debussy, Claude

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Debussy’s compositions form part of an art movement known as French Impressionism that evolved in France at the end of the 19th Century. He was its leading musical exponent and a seminal influence on modern music. The aim of Impressionism was to reflect mood, which Debussy did with the use of unusual chords and modes which nevertheless progress unerringly through evocative landscapes to peaks of tension. His always careful attention to the whole gives the varying, impalpable sentiments a sense of direction and completion. The lovely ‘En Bateau’ is taken from the ‘Petite Suite’, a suite for piano four hands in four movements.

 

 

 

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Etude Op.10 No.3 (Guitar Solo)
"Tristesse"

Chopin, Frederic

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)

Chopin was born in Poland but spent his twenty or so creative years based in Paris. Of the Romantic era, he was a master of the keyboard and a composer of genius. Afflicted early on by consumption, he worked with a tireless intensity to produce piano compositions both intricate and perfect, of every style and mood. Pears Cyclopaedia makes this discerning tribute: ‘A Chopin melody, limpid, transparent, singing, can be recognised easily by anyone, but his style gradually developed into something more subtle, more satisfying than pure melody.’

Although music must ever remain ineffable, the etude ‘Tristesse’, meaning sadness, is subtly programmatic. Its charming theme moves into a section of diminished chords suggestive of turmoil before a bravura section and a seamless return to the theme. It can all be expressed well at a deliberate pace, given heed to score directions. I like to play it with the right hand over the guitar's soundhole to harness that sweet resonance, particularly for the thematic sections and the lovely coda.

 

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Fantasy on a Mozart Theme (Guitar Solo)
(from the Mass in C minor)

Whittle, Rod

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756 -1791

Mozart, whom his sister recounted as picking out thirds on the family clavier at the age of three for the pleasure of it, has been described as achieving miracles of sound across every emotion. Indeed one runs out of superlatives trying to do justice to the quality and originality of his compositions and the abundance of output. Anyone learning about his relatively short life must also pay tribute to his resolve and courage.

I've noticed during my time in bands that the music I like sparks creativity, and the lovely theme from the Kyrie of the Mass in C minor spawned a lot of ideas once I'd decided to write something for guitar using it. Mozart's harmonies seem both exclusive and perfect, and I can't imagine my musical life without them. I got to know the Mass when I looked after Nigel's place while he was away, as it was in his record collection. My good friend died not long after that, and the Fantasy is a homage to him.

 

 

 

 

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Folk Songs and Dances (Guitar Solo)

Bartók, Béla

BELA BARTOK

Welcome to the enchanting world of Bartok’s folk music. These pieces have been transcribed from arrangements for flute and guitar.

Bela Bartok, considered one of the 20th century’s most important composers, was born in Hungary in 1881. A prodigy, he was a professor at the Budapest Music Academy by the age of 26. His interest in traditional music led him to make many journeys (with his colleague Zolta Kodaly) through Hungary, Romania and Slovakia collecting songs and dances, the styles of which were synthesised into compositions of his own. He emigrated to the USA in 1940 where he died five years later of leukaemia.

The pieces are deceptively simple, and it would be a mistake to take their natural forms, clear melodies, tonal harmonies and strong rhythms as an invitation to play inattentively. Quite the contrary. They stand any amount of playing, but only when the composing is heeded, the dynamics observed, and modulations anticipated.

Some are harder to play than others, but you can always slow a piece down for learning purposes, choose other fingering, or try later. Hopefully you will be fascinated and moved to explore, if you haven’t already done so, other areas of Bartok’s remarkable musical legacy.

About the arrangements:

As with much guitar music, the copying is not always strict. For instance, at times notes are written for a longer duration than they can be played, which improves readability while staying faithful to the original composition. On occasion rests are omitted to prevent cluttering. Alternative fingering may be preferred.

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Four English Folk Songs (Guitar Solo)

Williams, Ralph Vaughn

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872 -1958)

The twentieth century revival of English music owes much to Ralph Vaughan Williams. He embraced the new interest in English folk song, producing arrangements of folk songs as well as assimilating the idiom into his own compositions. He also wrote many essays on music which are plain-spoken but far from narrow. Throughout his long life he gave support to a variety of musical ventures, from popular forms of music and folk to 'serious' secular and religious music.

The guitar arrangements for the Four English Folk Songs are from piano pieces, and are typical of the genre in the way they gently and evenly convey their harmonic progress. The dorian mode of the first two pieces is a characteristic minor scale flavour. The third, ‘The Lark in the Morning’, is the most difficult but, introduced exquisitely by the lark’s singing, is well worth persevering with. Note the semiquavers in this piece - it is not a triplet feel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Golaud's Letter from Pelleas et Melisande (Guitar Solo)

Debussy, Claude

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Debussy’s compositions form part of an art movement known as French Impressionism that evolved in France at the end of the 19th Century. He was its leading musical exponent and a seminal influence on modern music. The aim of Impressionism was to reflect mood, which Debussy did with the use of unusual chords and modes which nevertheless progress unerringly through evocative landscapes to peaks of tension. Careful attention to form gives impalpable sentiments a sense of direction and completion. 

The excerpt 'Golaud's Letter' from early in Debussy's only opera, ‘Pelleas and Melisande’, demonstrates this, as well as exhibiting his masterful expression of the dramatic, exquisite without being flowery, forceful but not overblown.

 

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Hungarian and Slovak Folk Songs and Dances (Guitar Solo)

Bartók, Béla

BELA BARTOK

Welcome to the enchanting world of Bartok’s folk music. These pieces have been transcribed from arrangements for flute and guitar.

Bela Bartok, considered one of the 20th century’s most important composers, was bornin Hungary in 1881. A prodigy, he was a professor at the Budapest Music Academy bythe age of 26. His interest in traditional music led him to make many journeys (with hiscolleague Zolta Kodaly) through Hungary, Romania and Slovakia collecting songs anddances, the styles of which were synthesised into compositions of his own. He emigrated to the USA in 1940 where he died five years later of leukaemia.

The pieces are deceptively simple, and it would be a mistake to take their natural forms,clear melodies, tonal harmonies and strong rhythms as an invitation to play inattentively. Quite the contrary. They stand any amount of playing, but only when the composing isheeded, the dynamics observed, and modulations anticipated.

Some are harder to play than others, but you can always slow a piece down for learning purposes, choose other fingering, or try later. Hopefully you will be fascinated and moved to explore, if you haven’t already done so, other areas of Bartok’s remarkable musical legacy.

About the arrangements:

As with much guitar music, the copying is not always strict. For instance, at times notes are written for a longer duration than they can be played, which improves readability while staying faithful to the original composition. On occasion rests are omitted to prevent cluttering. Alternative fingering may be preferred.

$9.20   $11.50 Sale

La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (Guitar Solo)

Debussy, Claude

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Debussy’s compositions form part of an art movement known as French Impressionism that evolved in France at the end of the 19th Century. He was its leading musical exponent and a seminal influence on modern music. The aim of Impressionism was to reflect mood, which Debussy did with the use of unusual chords and modes which nevertheless progress unerringly through evocative landscapes to peaks of tension. His always careful attention to the whole gives the varying, impalpable sentiments a sense of direction and completion. ‘La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin’, from the piano piece, is a charming example.

 

 

 

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Overture from Ariadne auf Naxos (Guitar Solo)

Strauss, Richard

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Strauss's music amounts to a huge body of symphonic and operatic work written over 60 years. Full of vitality, endlessly melodic, brilliantly orchestrated, it begins and ends in the romantic tradition, but for the most part expresses something more modern and individualistic, not without controversy in its time. Variation of style and structure is drawn from the descriptive (literary) nature of compositions, and an extraordinary inventiveness enlivens the scenes, moods and situations. Strauss said once that he produced music the way cows give milk, and indeed his music rarely seems contrived.

The opera

Strauss wrote 15 operas on a variety of subjects and across the whole spectrum of drama. He acknowledged being enchanted by the soprano voice, and his writing for it highlights many of the works, including Adriane auf Naxos (composed in 1912). The opera has been described as 'sparkling', which sums it up well, and passages influenced by Bach, Mozart, Puccini, and Wagner add to the interest. The storyline is a play within a play, the second part being the mythological 'Opera' staged in the story. The three pieces transcribed* are from this Opera.

The guitar arrangements

All classical guitar pieces are compromises. The instrument has only six strings, the left hand four fingers able to be used, and with the right hand it's rare to use more than three fingers and the thumb. So, despite the amount of noise possible, it's inevitable that passages occur where either harmony, bass or fragments of counterpoint that would be beneficial are left out. In particular, the higher up the neck music is played the simpler it tends to be, if harder to play, and unless the low bass is an open string there wont be any.  

So I think the main part of attaining a fair transcription (better to be called an arrangement if the original musical structure is not strictly followed, as in this case) is determining how a good compromise can be reached. Melody, counterpoint, bass and main harmonies demand inclusion, and register is important. One may generally assume the original score can't be improved on. However, if the music may sound well on guitar, and the above elements can be incorporated without the playing becoming very difficult, something enjoyable to play and worthwhile listening to should be able to be achieved.

Overture; 'A golden time …'

Here the Mozart influence, better, inspiration, is wonderfully evident. A gentle waltz time (only the first section of the overture is transcribed) carries the colourful harmonies, strong melodic threads and connecting flourishes that stamp both pieces. The aria is alluded to in the Overture several times, which as you would expect, is intricately woven with the hints themes later to be established in the Opera. It has a kind of 'jazzy' freedom, and it's always miraculous to me that composition so involved can retain its musical line, here done in Strauss's inimitable way. The aria, sung not far into the Opera, has the perfect inevitability of Mozart, but again it is Strauss. As explained, keys have been changed to suit the guitar

Chorus and Aria

This selection from the finale has features well worth trying to translate. The device of having a strong chorus, in the style of a Bach chorale, stated and then counterpointed by a solo voice in a restatement, is potent, and that in the opera the chorus (of the three nymphs) isn't immediately followed by the accompanying aria (of Ariadne) means the latter comes as a moment of surprising beauty. Neither parts are complicated, and lovely arpeggios, a feature Strauss's music, often impart the assured progressions.

A problem was to capture the distinct register of the soprano voices, some statements of which would seem non-negotiable even without knowing the soprano voice was a passion of Strauss's. This could only be done, as intimated above, with some simplification. However the sound was worth working for, and fortunately the repetitive nature of the piece allowed for sections to be played at various registers to good effect, the higher producing the excruciating soprano harmonies. 

Also, the original is in Db, so by raising the key a semitone I was able to utilise the guitar's D tuning as a full sounding configuration on which to arrange the piece. I'm fond of harmonics and open strings (in fact, arresting sounds in general) and used them where appropriate (or as sometimes, necessary). 

Rod Whittle

* Overture; 'A golden time'; Chorus and Aria

$2.00   $2.50 Sale

Prelude to Parsifal (Guitar Solo)

Wagner, Richard

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

History views Wagner with ambivalence. Musically he was a great genius who changed the course of operatic art, invented the Leitmotiv and developed chromatic harmony to the threshold of atonality. Unfortunately however, he became a very controversial figure, his reputation marred by less than endearing ideas and personal traits. As a young man he lived in poverty and struggled to have his art noticed. As recognition came improved circumstances enabled him to realise his tremendous operatic ambitions, including the writing and staging of the Ring cycle (over 25 years) and the construction of a theatre of special design at Bayreuth.

Parsifal, the last of Wagner's music dramas, is a consecrational work of unique beauty. The Prelude exhibits some of the strong themes of the opera, and through these there is the the creation of intense moods. The piece advances through passages of thematic development and roving harmonies, and on it all there is Wagner's stamp, the marvelous unfolding of an inevitable structure.

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Prelude XII (Guitar Solo)
from "The Well Tempered Clavier"

Bach, Johann Sebastian

J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750) needs no introduction. He is simply one of the greatest composers, bringing counterpoint to a rare high point and imbuing that technical mastery with captivating harmonies and melodies. The ‘Forty-Eight’ are famous. In them Bach explored polyphonic ideas in all the major and minor keys on the newly tempered keyboard.

Prelude twelve modulates seamlessly through minor keys making delightful use of diminished chords to provide tension.

 

 

 

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Prelude XXII (Guitar Solo)
from "The Well Tempered Clavier"

Bach, Johann Sebastian

J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750) needs no introduction. He is simply one of the greatest composers, bringing counterpoint to a rare high point and imbuing that technical mastery with captivating harmonies and melodies. The ‘Forty-Eight’ are famous. In them Bach explored polyphonic ideas in all the major and minor keys on the newly tempered keyboard. 

Prelude twenty two fascinatingly illustrates features of composition such as inexorable bass, contrary motion, sequences, and consecutive thirds and other intervals. It is worth noting that the emotional effects of these, as found here, are only possible in tonal music. The counterpoint is layered thickly enough at times for the harmony to be obvious, but as ever with Bach, even with just one or two lines there is a strong feeling of harmonic progress. Everything seems to turn on this unparalleled harmonic gift.

 

 

 

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Theme from Pelleas and Melisande (Guitar Solo)

Sibelius, Jean

Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)

For the last 30 years of his long life Sibelius produced little, but earlier output had been prolific, and this rose in popularity worldwide while he became a national hero in his native Finland. Although he eschewed modern atonal influences, his music rises far above being just accessible. It is distinctive (a hallmark of the best art), well crafted, and facilitated by a natural melodic and harmonic flair. There is an engaging diversity of all components. Nevertheless, Sibelius's music tends to gravitate towards the elemental.The mood varies – sometimes vastly from piece to piece – but the folk Muse is never far away. 

Pelleas and Melisande

A number of composers have taken Maeterlink's 19th century play Pelléas et Mélisande to create works around. The tragic story has the cast, and the inevitability and unsparing cruelty, of a fairy tale and brims with drama. The ability of Sibelius to evoke sombre and idyllic scenes of northern European folklore through entrancing melody and harmony expressed with a clean, vibrant orchestral palette, seems perfectly matched for Maeterlink's mystical play.

In this excerpt arranged for guitar a minor key melody working off a flattened fifth with a quirky counter melody transforms into a second (major) theme a semitone down. The chromaticism continues through major-minor shifts, giving the piece its signature. The piece ends with a delightful coda.

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Three Bach Chorales (Guitar Solo)

Bach, Johann Sebastian

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 -1750) is the most famous of a German family of musicians. He was esteemed as an organist in his time, but received major standing as a composer due to a 19th-century revival. He was provincial, devoutly religious and produced a huge volume of both secular and ecclesiastical music noted for its prodigious counterpoint and harmonic expressiveness.

The following opinions give you some idea of his unique place in music:

Mozart; ‘Now there is music from which a man can learn something.’ Brahms; ‘Study Bach; there you will find everything.’ Beethoven (who looked after Bach's impoverished daughter) ‘…an immortal god of harmony.’ Wagner; ‘…the most stupendous miracle in all of music.’ Debussy; ‘…a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity.’

The chorales show his harmonic gift in particular. I transcribed these over a number of years, and on revision have not been able to pinpoint the third chorale in the selection. I’m sure someone will enlighten me.

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Waltz Op. 64, No. 1 (Guitar Solo)
''Minute"

Chopin, Frederic

Frédéric Chopin (1810 –1849)

Chopin was born in Poland but spent his twenty or so creative years based in Paris. Of the Romantic era, he was a master of the keyboard and a composer of genius. Afflicted early on by consumption, he worked with a tireless intensity to produce piano compositions both intricate and perfect, of every style and mood. Pears Cyclopaedia makes this discerning tribute: ‘A Chopin melody, limpid, transparent, singing, can be recognised easily by anyone, but his style gradually developed into something more subtle, more satisfying than pure melody.’

The Waltz Op. 64 No 1, popularly known in English as the “Minute Waltz”, is a famous example of the melodic flourish and harmonic capability intimated above. It's not meant to be played in a minute, and works nicely at a sedate pace.

$3.16   $3.95 Sale

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