American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
DonaldSauter
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American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:29 pm

I've started to put together a web page with 19th C. American guitar pieces in alternate tunings. The idea is that, if you have a bunch of pieces in a given tuning, you might be more inclined to go to the trouble of retuning your guitar.

The other idea is that pieces in unfamiliar tunings might "need" fingerings more than pieces in the familiar standard tuning. So I supply a fully fingered version along with the untouched original. Your choice.

I've started with all the pieces in my collection in E major tuning and D major tuning, the latter also called Sebastopol. Since these tunings have identical intervals, you can play all the pieces in either tuning (or a compromise, such as Eb major.)

Here is the web page to date, with the pieces in E major and D major tuning:

http://donaldsauter.com/american-guitar ... unings.htm

DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:09 pm

I've added a batch of pieces in another popular tuning of the era: D G d g b d'. This is the tuning for the so-called "Spanish Fandango" that was the Spanish Romance of the 19th Century. The piece and the tuning lived on in American folk guitar. Peter Danner, in an old Soundboard article, speculated this piece came about from Americans diddling with a European piece called Bolero, by Luigi Castellacci.

Besides the Spanish Fandango, there's the Spanish March, which you might know. In addition to original works, there are arrangements of Blue Bells of Scotland, Nearer My God To Thee, and Home, Sweet Home. Retune once, and you get all of that!

As always, no claim that the music is of the absolute highest sophistication, but, hey, it's a lot of fun, and it's the American guitarist's heritage. Also, good reading practice, and some tough or tricky spots that will make you a better guitarist. For example, see The Merry Makers for a good study for controlled strums with the i finger.)

http://donaldsauter.com/american-guitar ... unings.htm

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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:00 pm

DonaldSauter wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:09 pm
I've added a batch of pieces in another popular tuning of the era: D G d g b d'. This is the tuning for the so-called "Spanish Fandango" that was the Spanish Romance of the 19th Century. The piece and the tuning lived on in American folk guitar. Peter Danner, in an old Soundboard article, speculated this piece came about from Americans diddling with a European piece called Bolero, by Luigi Castellacci.

Besides the Spanish Fandango, there's the Spanish March, which you might know. In addition to original works, there are arrangements of Blue Bells of Scotland, Nearer My God To Thee, and Home, Sweet Home. Retune once, and you get all of that!

As always, no claim that the music is of the absolute highest sophistication, but, hey, it's a lot of fun, and it's the American guitarist's heritage. Also, good reading practice, and some tough or tricky spots that will make you a better guitarist. For example, see The Merry Makers for a good study for controlled strums with the i finger.)

http://donaldsauter.com/american-guitar ... unings.htm
Wow thanks! I've been meaning to look more into spanish fandango. There's a related group of european pieces titled retraite espagnol. Also thanks for the C. Eulenstein piece, another composer I've been meaning to look more into.
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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:45 pm

I've put a little taster of the greek version of retraite espagnol I've been playing here viewtopic.php?f=122&t=115004 , using the work in progress forum as I'm not sure the arrangement would be out of copyright.
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DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:25 pm

Thanks, very interesting! I've also fired up a couple of versions of "Retraite Espagnol" on youtube. Yes, they share lots of characteristics with "Spanish Fandango" and other open tuning guitar pieces that I thought were strictly 19th C. American. It'd be fun to find out I've been wrong about that. Can you supply any history of "Retraite Espagnol"-type European guitar pieces? Is there a connection going back to the 19th century?

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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:19 pm

DonaldSauter wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:25 pm
Thanks, very interesting! I've also fired up a couple of versions of "Retraite Espagnol" on youtube. Yes, they share lots of characteristics with "Spanish Fandango" and other open tuning guitar pieces that I thought were strictly 19th C. American. It'd be fun to find out I've been wrong about that. Can you supply any history of "Retraite Espagnol"-type European guitar pieces? Is there a connection going back to the 19th century?
Hi Donald, I'm copying my reply from the other thread just in case.
There's Jacques (or Jaime?) Bosch's Retraite Espagnol opus 16, you can find it on Boijes . In a weird other tuning rather than open G but part of the same family of pieces. I wish I had a more complete picture of the relationship with the american versions and indeed with any spanish originals.

Regarding open tuning european classical 19th century pieces, there was a whole thread that has now disappeared but I did a recording of a Carcassi piece back then which I should propably revisit and record again viewtopic.php?f=113&t=41322
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DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:36 pm

sxedio wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:19 pm
There's Jacques (or Jaime?) Bosch's Retraite Espagnol opus 16, you can find it on Boijes . In a weird other tuning rather than open G but part of the same family of pieces. I wish I had a more complete picture of the relationship with the american versions and indeed with any spanish originals.

Regarding open tuning european classical 19th century pieces, there was a whole thread that has now disappeared but I did a recording of a Carcassi piece back then which I should propably revisit and record again viewtopic.php?f=113&t=41322
Thanks for bringing me up to speed here. I see now that "Retraite Espagnol" by Bosch dates back to 1887 or earlier. For the curious, here's a direct link:

http://carkiv.musikverk.se/www/boije/Boije_0601.pdf

Yes, that's a pretty unusual tuning. It compresses the range of the guitar by 3 half-steps. I haven't met any American guitar pieces in that tuning, although, at a glance, it looks kind of like several American tunings that have the 4th and 5th strings tuned to the same note (Cccgbe' Cccgc'e' B,BBf#bd#'). Those tunings actually stretch the normal range out 4 half-steps by virtue of a deeply dropped 6th string.

> Regarding open tuning european classical 19th century pieces, there was a whole thread that has now disappeared

Darn, wish I could see it. In my 40 years of playing everything I could get my hands on, I mostly remember just a few European pieces in the open E major chord tuning. I also have the highest regard for Peter Danner's contributions on guitar subjects, and he wrote, "One trait that tends to distinguish early American guitar music from the music of Europe and Latin America is its propensity for unusual scordaturas--for what today are commonly called "open" tunings." (Soundboard, Summer 1987, p109.)

I see that out of 18 Bosch editions on the Boije site, he uses the same tuning in one other piece, La Rose for mandolin and guitar; nothing in the most popular American scordaturas. It would be fun to find that there was more influence on 19th C. European from America than generally recognized, but I'm inclined to view Bosch's experimentation in scordatura as more or less anomalous until somebody presents a bigger list of such pieces.

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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:11 pm

DonaldSauter wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:36 pm

> Regarding open tuning european classical 19th century pieces, there was a whole thread that has now disappeared

Darn, wish I could see it. In my 40 years of playing everything I could get my hands on, I mostly remember just a few European pieces in the open E major chord tuning. I also have the highest regard for Peter Danner's contributions on guitar subjects, and he wrote, "One trait that tends to distinguish early American guitar music from the music of Europe and Latin America is its propensity for unusual scordaturas--for what today are commonly called "open" tunings." (Soundboard, Summer 1987, p109.)

I see that out of 18 Bosch editions on the Boije site, he uses the same tuning in one other piece, La Rose for mandolin and guitar; nothing in the most popular American scordaturas. It would be fun to find that there was more influence on 19th C. European from America than generally recognized, but I'm inclined to view Bosch's experimentation in scordatura as more or less anomalous until somebody presents a bigger list of such pieces.
Let me link properly to my Carcassi recording viewtopic.php?f=113&t=41322 . The whole of opus 25 is in open E, you can find it on Boije http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se ... kverk-4119 . Carcassi is definitely someone who influenced rather than was influenced by american guitar in terms of his publication dates. Another one who wrote a lot in open E later is the originally German but British based madam Pratten, she even published 'Oh Susanna' in open E apparently!
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DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:44 pm

I've added 8 more pieces, all in various Open C tunings.

http://donaldsauter.com/american-guitar ... htm#openc1

This is kind of interesting. Whereas there was just one Open E tuning, one Open D tuning (really the same as Open E), and one Open G tuning, we have five Open C tunings here. They all have the same top 4 strings: c g c' e'. But there's a variety of combos of low C's, E's, G's and c's for strings 6 and 5.

If the music is not "great" (and, who knows?, maybe it is), there's a lot of fun to be had, and some good, American "time-travelling". As with every piece of guitar music, you'll find technique-building, study material in there. At least, I bet nobody anywhere can play any of these pieces to perfection on the first shot. (Prove me wrong!)

For every piece, you have your choice of playing from the original edition, a version with basic fingerings, or a fully fingered version.

I've corrected all the errors I detected and cleaned up the background.

I've also laid the pieces out in a logical order minimizing retuning from piece to piece.

Believe me, your great-grandpappy never had it so good!

DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:47 pm

I've added the last 3 stragglers to my page of 19th C. American guitar pieces in alternate tunings:

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... unings.htm

Specifically, there are 2 pieces in Open G tunings

1. Spanish Fandango, by Signor Vallo

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... htm#ggdgbd

2. "Taps"; The Last Call, arr. by L. L. Friedrich

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... htm#gbdgbd

and a piece for 1 or 2 guitars in the Open E tuning

3. Greenville, tune by Jean Jacques Rousseau, arr. by J. C. Smith

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... greenville

The last one is a hymn tune which you may recognize as "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (the old grey goose is dead.) I like J. C.'s spirit; he was composer, artist, engraver, and publisher of his music.

I hope some of you have been curious enough to take a little stroll off the beaten classical guitar path and try out a few of these pieces. If you have other pieces that would fit here, let me know.

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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:30 pm

DonaldSauter wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:47 pm
3. Greenville, tune by Jean Jacques Rousseau, arr. by J. C. Smith

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... greenville

The last one is a hymn tune which you may recognize as "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (the old grey goose is dead.) I like J. C.'s spirit; he was composer, artist, engraver, and publisher of his music.
thanks, specially for this one.
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Jeremiah Lawson
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by Jeremiah Lawson » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:23 am

I only got around to open chord tunings because I love old blues recordings and wanted to pick up bottleneck/slide techniques. Interesting that the Fandago is scored with the notes placed as if the work were in standard tuning but with the scordatura specified. I never would have thought to score any scordatura compositions that way so it's interesting to see.

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sxedio
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by sxedio » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:57 pm

Jeremiah Lawson wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:23 am
I only got around to open chord tunings because I love old blues recordings and wanted to pick up bottleneck/slide techniques. Interesting that the Fandago is scored with the notes placed as if the work were in standard tuning but with the scordatura specified. I never would have thought to score any scordatura compositions that way so it's interesting to see.
Isn't that standard for violin scordatura?
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DonaldSauter
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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by DonaldSauter » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:41 pm

Jeremiah Lawson wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:23 am
I never would have thought to score any scordatura compositions that way so it's interesting to see.
Thanks for bringing that up, Jeremiah. In my view, whoever invented the "tune this way but play as if tuned regular" (TTWBPAITR) system should get his deserved recognition. It seems like an American invention. (Darn, I'll bet Matanya would have known if there were any early 19th C. European guitar pieces notated this way.)

The earliest Spanish Fandango that guitar scholar Peter Danner is aware of, called "Fandango" in James Ballard's "Elements of Guitar Playing" of 1838, is in TTWBPAITR. See Danner's article in the Summer 1999 Soundboard. He speculates that the "Fandango" came about by American guitarists diddling with European guitarist Luigi Castellacci's "Bolero" in open G tuning, and tossing in that distinctive 4th fret barre chord to the progression.

But Castellacci wrote a second, different, "Bolero" for guitar and piano, and it looks to me like the American guitar piece, "Spanish March" by C. Eulenstein, in TTWBPAITR, has a stronger connection to that than Ballard's "Fandango" to Castellacci's solo "Bolero". It makes me wonder if "Spanish March" preceded "Fandango".

This is all a whole lot more interesting than I'm making it sound. :-) It boils down to, who invented TTWBPAITR? Was it Ballard? Or Eulenstein? Or somebody else? You can compare the pieces under discussion in the Open G section of my scordatura page:

http://www.donaldsauter.com/american-gu ... htm#dgdgbd

And now that you got me curious about the relative usage of the TTWBPAITR system, I spun through all the pieces on my page and counted up 27 publications in TTWBPAITR and 23 notated at sounding pitch. For what it's worth... :-)

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Re: American guitar pieces in alternate tunings

Post by Jeremiah Lawson » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:00 am

My first hunch is that Ophee would point out that a score for guitar where it's tuned in one way but you play it another has to go at least as far back as Sor's etude in harmonics from his Op. 29. Now that I've had some time to think about it, it's easy to see how the convention could develop.

I just score things having come from a choral background before getting seriously into the guitar so I had it drilled into me that you're always working with a score that specifies what you want sounding as the finished result.

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