Transcribing resources

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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Sean Eric Howard

Transcribing resources

Post by Sean Eric Howard » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:32 pm

Does anyone here have any advice/resources for transcribing piano works to guitar?

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Adrian Allan » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:45 pm

I have done this and you can see some of my efforts in the members' scores section.

The very broad advice is only choose pieces that can work without too much being left out.
Choose your key signatures wisely.
It helps if you can play piano as well
Decide if it is as close as possible to the original, a transcription, or are you arranging it as though the composer had started to write on the guitar, an arrangement, or somewhere between the two extremes.
Find an editor friend who has a keen eye for notation mistakes
Use sibelius or finale for best results.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

Sean Eric Howard

Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Sean Eric Howard » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:59 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:45 pm

Decide if it is as close as possible to the original, a transcription, or are you arranging it as though the composer had started to write on the guitar, an arrangement, or somewhere between the two extremes.
Thanks for the advice, Adrian. I guess I've never thought of a transcription versus arrangement mindset.

Well, perhaps I'll try a piece and see how it goes. I'm afraid I'll have to make due with a less costly alternative. Would love to have Finale or Sibelius, but the wife watches the purse strings like a hawk and I'm about to embark upon building guitars so . . .

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Adrian Allan » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:34 am

No problem - in fact I am still learning myself and asking for advice. That's why my friend who is more experienced than me (but is not a guitar player) checks all my scores.

The Finale and Sibelius vs Musescore opens a whole can of worms, as there are some who insist that Musescore is adequate. For most people just starting off, I am sure that it is fine, but my last set of arrangements needed cue sized notes, dotted slurs, etc etc, which very mature programmes like Sibelius and Finale can provide.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

Conall
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Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Conall » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:14 am

Arranging piano music for guitar is a minefield: the vastly larger range of the piano, it's favoured soprano rather than tenor melody tessitura and the sheer number of notes & ability to play many voiced complex counterpoint all militate against making convincing transcriptions for the guitar.

If you are determined to try it, start by analysing well known & accepted transcriptions. Albeniz' Suite Española has the famous Asturias / Leyenda, Granada, Sevilla & others often transcribed for the guitar. Once analysed you will notice that keys are often changed, the range is usually compressed by for example dropping the melody down an octave / leaving out the upper notes of octave melodies, the chords are thinned out / inner voices re-arranged etc etc.

Suite Española pieces mostly work well because of their appropriate Spanish flavour & clear simple melodies & harmonies. In contrast Albeniz' Iberia suite is impossible on solo guitar because of its virtuosic nature.

There are undoubtedly more poor arrangements of piano music than good ones so frankly I would tread carefully. A few of the simplest Baroque keyboard pieces can work relatively well but often these take too many liberties.

Frustratingly, some keyboard pieces look as if they should work on guitar, but on closer inspection don't. One example is Bach's 1st C Major prelude from the WTC (BWV 846, 1) which is often attempted on guitar but primarily fails on our instrument because (again) the original range is far too wide and because it is impossible to sustain some of the arpeggio notes in some of the chords in the way the composer intended.

A more realistic prospect is to arrange a piano piece as a guitar duet although even then keys will often need to be changed & some range compromises will be needed (sticking some non-melodic bass notes up an octave etc). Bach's 2 part inventions or simpler pieces from the Anna Magdalena book might be a good start.

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Bernhard Heimann
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Location: Augsburg, Germany

Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Bernhard Heimann » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:39 am

A very good resource is Richard Yates' book "The Transcriber's Art" (MelBay #21987), which contains articles fomerly published
in "Soundboard", the magazine of the Guitar Foundation of America. Yates uses different examples (Morley, Bach, Chopin and many more)
to demonstrate how to make transcriptions, where the problems are and how to overcome them.
Highly recommended!

Bernhard

bert
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Transcribing resources

Post by bert » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:51 am

From my experience it depends on the piece. Like Conall says: the range of the piano is a problem. Transposing on non-accentuated beats is a possible solution. Also agree with him on the Baroque pieces. What has helped me is counterpoint (youtube vids by Seth Monahan). For arranging jazz theory and reharmonizing videos have helped a lot (by 12tone, Jazz Duets, and LearnPianoLive)

Sean Eric Howard

Re: Transcribing resources

Post by Sean Eric Howard » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:31 am

Thanks bert. I have a good grounding in counterpoint. Bernhard, that is exactly rhe kind of thing I was looking for! And thank you, Conall for your advice. I’d not thought to check piano scores like Albeniz and Granados against their guitar counterparts.
Perhaps my original post was a bit vague. I don’t plan to transcribe many pieces by many composers. My project is to transcribe some of Manuel Blancafort’s pieces for guitar.

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sxedio
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Location: UK / Cyprus

Re: Transcribing resources

Post by sxedio » Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:00 pm

You might find a previous discussion relevant viewtopic.php?f=101&t=95129
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

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