How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

A "classroom" environment for exchanging Technical Questions & Answers, How-To's, music theory concepts, etc.
User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1309
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:55 am

Adrian Allan wrote:I was recently looking at a book of solos from the 1990s for beginners called "Solo Now". Most of the pieces in it are well-intentioned, written by members of the guitar community, but in terms of musical content, are pretty dire.
crazyrach97 wrote:What didn't you like about solo now?
Adrian Allan wrote:... I just happen to think that the pieces are terrible; almost zero musical interest ... What struck me is that many of the "composers" are quite prominent guitar teachers who seem to have been drafted in to have a go at composition.
crazyrach97 wrote:Oh dear... one person who loves the Solo Now books and another who thinks they suck... whom do I listen to?
Crazyrach97, Adrian states himself that opinions are subjective - however Stephen's submission is rather more objective than most.

Re-read his post where he mentions the evolution of the grade system and the attempt to improve the underlying pedagogy whilst simultaneously rationalising the guitar's place alongside other instruments with regard to general physiology, motor skill and intellectual development.

I'm sure Adrian will acknowledge that this in particular is entirely subjective:
Adrian Allan wrote:... seem to have been drafted in to have a go at composition.
No, the composers in question had a remit to create works with a distinct pedagogic value.

I consider them to be valuable additions to my library, young students find the works engaging and stimulating whilst I can focus on fundamental techniques.

As to the suitability or not of the "Solo Now" volumes for you? Difficult to say without really knowing much about your skills but, from information gleaned from one or two other posts, I suspect not. They are aimed specifically at elementary level students.
Last edited by Mark Clifton-Gaultier on Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 7091
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:25 am

Conall wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:19 am
Who would have thought that something as modest as a guitar etude (that I doubt non-guitarist musicians would rate that highly) would have prompted such debate!

In terms of RH fingering there are of course many different approaches and a good teacher will use the etude to help a student develop a technique he or she is weak at. Musically it is indeed true that a rest stroke a finger on the top string will kill sustain of the 2nd string but it is a useful skill anyway which may in future be applied to more challenging pieces or situations where a rest stroke ring finger needs to be combined with free stroke thumb.

My ideal would be using this piece for developing strength & independence of ring finger free stroke plucking far into the palm. This would later help when tackling more difficult pieces requiring the same such as Tarrega's Estudio Brilliante de Allard and even the Cavatina theme.
And that may well have been how Carcassi himself used it. I play it as outlined by Rob but in his OP.59 Carcassi gives a series of 4 finger arpeggio exercises, 'a' finger playing the e string. I don't think any one of them is exactly the same pattern as No.3 but his arpeggio ex. No.8 has similar elements.

'These Arpeggios are written in order to exercise the right hand, and to establish those general rules which will serve to render the fingering of this hand in all similar passages quite definite.'
Last edited by Michael.N. on Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Historicalguitars.

User avatar
RobMacKillop
Posts: 2550
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by RobMacKillop » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:27 am

And none of those arpeggios Michael mentions are designed to bring out a melody on the first string.

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1309
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:21 am

RobMacKillop wrote:I teach it with rest stroke on the melody, but also free stroke - the student has to hear and feel the difference.
Interesting - I do almost the exact opposite i.e. only introducing this study after apoyando has been welll established, and then with the distinct purpose of improving a deep tirando.
RobMacKillop wrote:But I also favour not using the ring finger. Instead, the thumb plays twice, the 5th string bass note, followed by the third string - Carcassi often fingers the third string with the thumb (Cf. Op.59). And this allows the middle finger to phrase that top line.
Same here, though we will sometimes switch to p, i, m, a for the purpose of matching sound quality using different finger sets.

The musical thrust of this study clearly surrounds the tension/release appoggiature configurations (not the training of arpeggio finger sequences), it is here that control of tirando and consistent tone across (sometimes delayed) resolution sequences can be finely honed.
RobMacKillop wrote:Sor's Bm study is another place where it can be helpful not to use the ring finger at all.
Ditto - in fact I forbid it in my lessons - there's plenty of other material where the annular finger can be developed.

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Adrian Allan » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:03 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:55 am
Adrian Allan wrote:I was recently looking at a book of solos from the 1990s for beginners called "Solo Now". Most of the pieces in it are well-intentioned, written by members of the guitar community, but in terms of musical content, are pretty dire.
crazyrach97 wrote:What didn't you like about solo now?
Adrian Allan wrote:... I just happen to think that the pieces are terrible; almost zero musical interest ... What struck me is that many of the "composers" are quite prominent guitar teachers who seem to have been drafted in to have a go at composition.
crazyrach97 wrote:Oh dear... one person who loves the Solo Now books and another who thinks they suck... whom do I listen to?
Crazyrach97, Adrian states himself that opinions are subjective - however Stephen's submission is rather more objective than most.

Re-read his post where he mentions the evolution of the grade system and the attempt to improve the underlying pedagogy whilst simultaneously rationalising the guitar's place alongside other instruments with regard to general physiology, motor skill and intellectual development.

I'm sure Adrian will acknowledge that this in particular is entirely subjective:
Adrian Allan wrote:... seem to have been drafted in to have a go at composition.
No, the composers in question had a remit to create works with a distinct pedagogic value.

I consider them to be valuable additions to my library, young students find the works engaging and stimulating whilst I can focus on fundamental techniques.

As to the suitability or not of the "Solo Now" volumes for you? Difficult to say without really knowing much about your skills but, from information gleaned from one or two other posts, I suspect not. They are aimed specifically at elementary level students.
I agree that the pieces in the Solo Now book have pedagogic value. However, there is a real skill to writing something that fulfils a technical brief and also works as an effective piece of music. This is the challenge of writing any etude. In my opinion, the composers in the Solo Now book seem to be guitarists first and composers second - the pieces fit on the guitar and test a particular skill. However, musically speaking, they are quite weak. Compare with Carcassi - pedagogic value, but also music that has stood the test of time.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1309
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:12 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:In my opinion, the composers in the Solo Now book seem to be guitarists first and composers second - the pieces fit on the guitar and test a particular skill. However, musically speaking, they are quite weak.
Lol - a bit harsh to tar all with the same brush Adrian - Steve Goss, Colin Downs, Stephen Dodgson, Timothy Bowers? Not primariy composers?

19th century stuff is great - I use it extensively myself but, and this is the salient point, almost universally the tutors of that period were written primarily for amateurs, autodidacts who were mostly ... adults. The notable exception of course is Carulli's first "Méthode", written for his son Gustave who was aged just eight or nine at the time of publication.

Even if we find enough progressive material suitable for instrumental development there is also the question of musical intellect. One must recognise that the 19th century musical vernacular is just one of several archaic "dialects" and quite simply not an expansive enough palette from which to draw our resources if we are to give students a broad foundation upon which to build.

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Adrian Allan » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:18 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:12 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:In my opinion, the composers in the Solo Now book seem to be guitarists first and composers second - the pieces fit on the guitar and test a particular skill. However, musically speaking, they are quite weak.
Lol - a bit harsh to tar all with the same brush Adrian - Steve Goss, Colin Downs, Stephen Dodgson, Timothy Bowers? Not primariy composers?

19th century stuff is great - I use it extensively myself but, and this is the salient point, almost universally the tutors of that period were written primarily for amateurs, autodidacts who were mostly ... adults. The notable exception of course is Carulli's first "Méthode", written for his son Gustave who was aged just eight or nine at the time of publication.

Even if we find enough progressive material suitable for instrumental development there is also the question of musical intellect. One must recognise that the 19th century musical vernacular is just one of several archaic "dialects" and quite simply not an expansive enough palette from which to draw our resources if we are to give students a broad foundation upon which to build.
I agree totally on the intention of the book and the aim to commission modern beginner pieces.

It's just that none of the pieces floated my boat, but I will dig it off the shelf to give it another go.

The problem with the guitar is that few composers will even touch it, so we are often left to guitarists and guitar teachers to compose for it. I have a long-term aim to write a book for non-guitarist composers on the main guidelines for writing for the guitar.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Teacher
Posts: 2530
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:04 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:15 pm
Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:08 pm
Hence the development of the, I have to say, extremely fine Solo Now! books which all promote tirando technique.
Oh dear... one person who loves the Solo Now books and another who thinks they suck... whom do I listen to? :lol: I can't buy everything! Stephen, can you expand a little on the content of those books and what is good about them?
It is however extremely well observed that a question has to be asked about how the 'a' finger tackles this...
So are you suggesting then that we should use rest stroke on #3 for the top voice? My BF feels otherwise not because of stylistic authenticity (he doesn't care about that) but because it kills the second string arpeggio note. ...
Sorry to be rather behind the curve here ... :oops:

I'll say a few words about Solo Now but its off-topic so might start one just for that. The point about them specifically is that they are to develop "mainly broken-chord configurations using the tirando stroke" (from the preface), in the manner of much 19th century early-stage repertoire, and so actually a bit on-topic in the end.
Re Carcassi 3, no I prefer not to apoyando the melody - most of the time. Your BF (I think he deserves a name, since you cite him so often :o ) is right in objecting to the silencing of the B string especially in that the B string note is often harmonically crucial, e.g. in the first bar it supplies the major 3rd, in the second bar it supplies the 7th of the dominant chord. In fact the lead architect of the Solo Now! series himself said of this question, in this piece, (to paraphrase) 'these guys were harmonists and to stop the 2nd string is against their whole approach'.
Note that it has become I'd guess the majority practice to apoyando there, at least in the last few decades. Fine to do so to practice the technique, but then I'd rather do so in other contexts where there is no such question mark over the whole matter.
Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:28 pm
...
Opinions on guitar collections are obviously subjective. What struck me is that many of the "composers" are quite prominent guitar teachers who seem to have been drafted in to have a go at composition. I don't think that is an ideal situation - composing is a life-long process, and as I said in my last post, shorter pieces are actually more of an artistic challenge to compose.
I am afraid I have to strongly disagree, and supply some evidence.
Solo Now! vol 1 has the following contributors;
Richard Wright; the aforementioned architect & not the keyboardist of Pink Floyd!. Has written many TV scores, library music, teaches at the Yehudi Menuhin School, was responsible for the formation of Laura Snowdon among others. Plays cello and piano as well as guitar. Has performed in many ensembles, orchestras, film and TV recordings etc etc. Also on TV in the 1980s playing in 'Latin Quarter'.
David Cottam; guitarist, very experienced educational composer, widely published.
Timothy Bowers (Dr); not a guitarist, composer and professor of the Royal Academy of Music. Also, examiner at my DipABRSM!
Vincent Lindsey-Clark; guitarist, widely published and performed composer and ensemble player.
Peter Batchelar; guitarist, arranger of much music for the Bream-Williams duo. The nearest thing to Adrian's ("merely", implied, prominent guitar teacher).
Stephen Goss (Dr); guitarist, professor of composition at Surrey University. Founder member Tetra guitar quartet.
Vojislav Ivanovic; guitarist, widely published composer.
Steve Waters; "prominent guitar teacher".
Colin Downs; as above but also widely published, has been guitar teacher at Royal Academy.

In other words, and yes I could go on and on with volumes 2&3, most of these contributors are extremely well qualified composers who have indeed put in the life-time's work that Adrian advocates.

The additional composers in Vols 2&3 btw are;
Norbert Leclercq
Stephen Dodgson
Chris Susans

This btw is excluding the more recent Preparatory Book.

Indeed these things are subjective, and no I don't like everything in all these volumes. To decry others' work is one thing, to do so on the basis of questionable reasoning ...

PS in writing the above I hadn't actually noticed the posts immediately above, because the notification took me to the last one I'd read. :oops:
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:58 pm

Ok, you got me there - most of them are quite high up (albeit in guitar terms, I wonder how many of them have turned their hand to symphonic music).

It sort of confirms to me how hard it is to write a simple but engaging piece for low-grade pupils. You can be a "professional" composer today without ever having to fulfil the need to sell your music - it's become an academic qualification, with no need to make a general appeal to the listener.

However, in the days of Carcassi, etc, they had to please a rich patron, a general audience, or make a living selling scores.

The composers in Solo Now obviously set out to write effective early grade music. The music fits on the instrument, but it doesn't engage me on any musical or emotional level. When I used to teach the guitar (20 years ago), I had the same sort of reaction from the kids.

In comparison, I learned the guitar by means of A Tune A Day -which was a very old fashioned collection of pieces - such as the Ash Grove and Malageuna etc. Those pieces really did engage me.

However, I also accept how difficult it is to write something simple and also appealing.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1309
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:02 am

Adrian Allan wrote:...most of them are quite high up (albeit in guitar terms, I wonder how many of them have turned their hand to symphonic music).
You seem determined to belittle these fellows Adrian - but may I ask you - which is your favourite Carcassi or Carulli symphony? Maybe one of Molino's famous operas? Do you really spend much time with "Il Telemaco nell'isola di Calipso"? The answer to your question by the way is - several of them.

You've stated repeatedly that the music in the "Solo Now" collection(s), "... doesn't engage me ..." (my underline).

With all due respect, it wasn't written to engage you personally - a difficult task given that (as you've clearly stated elsewhere) even Benjamin Britten can't manage it and he's "fairly high up" in guitar terms or not.

We know from many of your other posts that you favour direct, accessible music in a style akin to that of the classical and romantic masters, or time honoured traditional melody. Your tastes are your own of course and I wouldn't for one moment suggest that there's anything wrong with that. I have a great love of folk music myself (as you know) and would never cast aspersions on anyone over their preferred genres be it Stockhausen or Josh Ritter.

My own experience with "Solo Now" has been entirely, and I mean 100%, positive. Youngsters come to the pieces with fresh, open minds and, unprompted, engage freely and creatively.

By it's very nature this path is unpredictable of course - I had a 7 or 8 year old once who approached a little piece having no knowledge of William Blake, or the poem which inspired it:

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.


My mistake, I neglected to recite this to him before approaching the work. He read the title and interpreted it, hilariously, as, "Aaaaagh! Sunflower!" You can imagine how different his rendition was from my expectation.
Adrian Allan wrote:When I used to teach the guitar (20 years ago), I had the same sort of reaction from the kids.
The teacher's role is surely not that of artistic arbiter but of a facilitator, helping students realise their capacity to explore and experience all the many facets of musical inspiration. Might it be possible that, 20 years less experienced, you were somehow communicating your own prejudices to them? After all - you were the only conduit they had in experiencing these works for the first time.

crazyrach97
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:17 pm

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by crazyrach97 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:20 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:02 am

The teacher's role is surely not that of artistic arbiter but of a facilitator, helping students realise their capacity to explore and experience all the many facets of musical inspiration. Might it be possible that, 20 years less experienced, you were somehow communicating your own prejudices to them? After all - you were the only conduit they had in experiencing these works for the first time.
That's an interesting comment in light of something that happened yesterday evening. I mentioned wanting to get Solo Now Vols 2 & 3 because it seemed the only place to get the Dodgson/Wright pieces in the presence of my boyfriend's daughter, who is ten. Context: she's a decent rock guitar player, has taken a couple of abortive stabs at classical, and is trying the latter again with more success than she apparently had in the past. We started working from SGP together, but I've inevitably pulled ahead not because I'm putting in more time (I'm not) but because I already have general playing ability way ahead of hers. But she's not letting that stop her, and is working right now on the simplified version of Asturias that Noad offers as the first solo piece.

Anyway, she said she wanted to hear some Dodgson music, so we pulled up a performance of Partita for Guitar on YouTube. Now my boyfriend... he doesn't like that stuff. At all. I haven't made up my mind about it yet. But we both kept our mouths shut and let her experience it. She sat absolutely riveted for the whole seven minute runtime and then looked up and said "that was cool!"

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Adrian Allan » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:30 pm

Thanks for the replies. For the record, I do like most of the classical guitar repertoire and have quite wide tastes. In terms of modern (ish) music, I don't get too much more adventurous than Walton's Bagatelles which I genuinely enjoy.

I have an interest in folk music, but more for the opportunities it offers the arranger. I like to use simple melodies but by the use of slightly unexpected harmony (for example diminished instead of dom 7), there is musical interest. I also like to provide musical interest in the counterpoint, which can be simple but take on a shape of its own.

I'm not totally conservative in my tastes. There is a limit to how radical an early grade piece can be, but I believe that by the use of devices such as counterpoint, voice leading and borrowed chords, and all the time-served methods of the masters, simple music can provide an interesting and engaging experience for the player and listener.

I don't find any such devices used to good effect in the Solo Now pieces. That's how I see it, but I will pull the book off the shelf and have another good look. I used to have all 3 volumes, but not sure if I can locate it, as I am a bit of a hoarder.

But let's face it, life would be boring if we all liked the same things, and forums like these would lose much of their reason to exist!
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

richtm
Posts: 122
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:10 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany

Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by richtm » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:51 pm

Just to complete the picture a little bit more (maybe a german perspective to it?): there is a volume of easy to intermediate pieces published by Riccordi given out by Heinz Teuchert, where I faced this piece first...
Regards
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ernest Köröskenyi 1977 Cedar top; Pauline Bernabe Especial 2007 Spruce top, 2012 Cedar top; Andreas Kirmse 2017 Cedar Double-top

Return to “Classical Guitar Classes”