Every week I search the internet for material that could instruct, inform or inspire intermediate level classical guitarist like myself.
It is getting harder and harder to find material that I haven’t already included in my site content at some time or another. My main sources have dried up considerably of late, but I guess that folk like Simon Powis and Bradford Werner are so well known that most amateur players subscribe directly to their sites and don’t need me to curate their material.
In my search this week I rediscovered classicalsuitar.org and although it appears to have been dormant since 2018, its content remains useful. In 2009 Christopher Davis wrote a post entitled 21 Tips for Better Guitar Playing. Most, if not all 21 ideas are covered, often in more detail, by other bloggers and teachers, but it is handy to have them all together in one concise form. So, it’s worth reading through his list at https://www.classicalguitar.org/2009/11/21-tips-for-better-guitar-playing/ and then spending some time viewing his other offerings. Thank you Chris.
ClassicFM recently interviewed Mios Karadaglic and asked him to speak about his five all-time favourite guitar pieces. They are Astorias, Concerto de Aranjuez, Koyunbaba, Lute Suite No 2 in C min, and Blackbird (not realy a classical guitar piece).
Three of the five are very well known, but Koyunbaba by Domeniconi and Blackbird by the Beatles may be less familiar to many. Here they are played by Milos himself.
Some time ago, I came across this article on Classical Guitar Corner on Spot Practice that I found very helpful. Dave describes Spot Practice as:
‘Spot practice is a lot like slow practice, but with one important difference: while slow practice reduces the tempo to give your fingers more time to make the movements they need to make and to identify problems you couldn’t notice when playing at faster tempos, spot practice removes tempo as a factor altogether.
Here’s how spot practice works: when you get to a tricky spot in a passage (something slow practice should have helped you identify as a trouble passage!) we want to STOP. Completely pause right at, say, that difficult left-hand shift. Then take it step by step, without the tempo: (1) Determine exactly the movements your fingers need to make to get from where they are to where they need to go; (2) Begin to prepare your fingers over the strings they are going to go; (3) Shift positions and carefully and in a relaxed manner place your fingers to land the shift; (4) Repeat. That’s it! The point here is to give your fingers the time they need to make that shift accurately’.
To read the full article on Spot Practice and view the video, just click HERE
Xuefei Yang plays Xodó da Baiana by Dilermando Reis. The video was made for the Starface TV documentary show on Phoenix TV, for the episode featuring Xuefei. She is playing a Greg Smallman guitar.
Xuefei is an extraordinarily talented classical guitarist. Watching her video performances, I am always taken by her dexterity and apparently effortless fluidity, even in the fastest of movements.
According to her official biography, ‘Xuefei was the first-ever guitarist in China to enter a music school, & became the first internationally recognised Chinese guitarist on the world stage. Her first public appearance was at the age of ten and received such acclaim that the Spanish Ambassador in China presented her with a concert guitar. Her debut in Madrid at the age of 14 was attended by the composer Joaquín Rodrigo and, when John Williams heard her play, he gave two of his own instruments to Beijing’s Central Conservatoire especially for her and other advanced students.’
Here she plays Cavatina at the BBC Proms In The Park 2018 on Titanic Slipways , Belfast, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.
Allan writes; ‘Bar chords are strenuous. They take strength and endurance. They are hard to get right and easy to get wrong. But there are ways to make them more likely to work. If we use our bodies well, bar chords can be, if not comfortable, at least doable’.
It’s hard to execute Barre technique correctly and I have found them very difficult in certain positions. So, any help with this appreciated… Thanks, Allan and Matthew
I found this stimulating performance on The GSI site. Alex was born in the Ukranian, but he now lives in Australia. It’s not just his face and body that is expressive because this extends to the way he phrases and performs the music. A truly accomplished classical guitarist.
Some time ago, I exchanged emails with Jim Giddings of Denton, Texas. Jim composes music for classical guitar, much of it with a decidedly Latin American flavour. The difficulty level of his pieces is mainly Intermediate with a few more suitable for the advanced beginner.
All his music is available free of charge and HIS SITE is worth visiting to browse through his collections. To get an idea of what his compositions sound like, go HERE.
Thanks to an article in GuitarTalk I became aware ofChordU, a new site developed and managed by Bitan Sardar. In his words, it is a powerful engine that ‘automatically recognizes chords for any song using cutting edge technology.’
More specifically, ChordU ‘uses a complex music analysis algorithm which is mainly based on waveform analysis, beat tracking, spectrogram analysis and machine learning’.
In essence, ChordU
consists of a powerful search engine that accesses the YouTube database, fetches
the music video in question, and then accurately analyses the chords played.
So, all one needs to do is enter the YouTube URL of a particular video, or
search criteria such as title, composer, musician, and so on.
At first glance it looks like it is geared to pop or jazz music and the like, but it is just as good at taking classical guitar (CG) performances and analysing them in just a few seconds. Sometimes I need to work out the chords for a piece of CG music either because I don’t have access to the score or to TABS, or because it’s hard to determine what chords the composer has employed in the piece. Once I know what chords are in play then I can develop the melody, harmony and base lines. When I am working with a score, then a knowledge of the chords helps me to decide on fingering and the flow and movement of the piece. ChordU is very helpful in both these applications.
The site layout is
simple and clean and the functionality largely intuitive, so the best way to
learn about it is just to play with it. However, just as a brief introduction,
here are some of the things you can do with ChordU:
Once you enter your search words or URL, the programme immediately presents a list of results. It either displays a line of the chords used, or a button designated ‘Extract Chords’ next to each entry on the list. Simply click on your choice and if the system already knows the chords then a new screen immediately appears . A confirmation popup appears if it needs to analyse the chords used for the first time. Within a few seconds, it’s done the job and the full screen presents.
On this main screen,
you see the video playing, the chord chart diagrams (synced to the music), and
a whole bunch of options. These options enable you to change the tempo, the key,
the screen layout, whether you want to display simple or advanced chords, and a
download facility (and other features to save, share, and so on).
I enjoy playing ‘Evocation’
so I typed ‘Jose Luis Merlin’ into the search box. Here are the first five
I then clicked on
the performance by Soren Madsen (5th on the list), clicked ‘Okay’ on
the popup, and the main screen displayed. I selected the option (middle right)
to change the layout and here is what I got:
I will leave the
rest for you to discover, but I am delighted with it. Have fun!