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Having moved to Spain at the beginning of June I am attempting to absorb myself in Spanish music generally. However, having been introduced to a (famous) Spanish Classical guitarist and after a rather stilted discussion (he has very little English and I currently have even less Spanish) it transpired that he has invited me to compose something for him to perform in public and/or record. I gather he has volunteered to insert all tablature and other mysterious fingering elements to make the score publishable so the appended score and MP3 are still in the very early experimental stage and obviously look rather naïve (but hopefully the actual music is less so).

Any constructive comments would be welcome and, for those of you who take the trouble to listen to and critique the music, very many thanks.

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Hi Stephen,

I did not hear the piece yet, this is an immediate reaction on the score as I opened straight to your thread this morning.

I would like to ask if you could also upload a XML file for your piece so that I can reload it on to my score writer without having to score it myself as it saves time.

I want to mainly copy the guitar part into the tablature and point out what I believe are some unnecessarily very hard/unplayable chords, although from what I perceive the spirit of the composition and its general direction are very nice indeed!

I hope you have a very good creative time in Spain.

Stephen, being a Guitarist myself, I find a lot of this impossible to play, clustered chords are tricky for the guitar, it either causes difficult stretches or have to use higher frets in conjunction with open strings. I suggest you make a fingering chart to help determine if your voicing are possible. In measure 5, it is possible to play that chord (Bb6?) but the only place to play it is up the neck making the melodic stuff very difficult. measure 7 is impossible. Also the key of G is not an ideal key for this kind of stuff, great for folk songs and bluegrass but not flamenco, You might consider the key of A since the lower three open strings represent the primary chords of that key,

All the above is verry good advice Stephen!

Thank you for your input Arthur, most welcome. I understand and appreciate what you say.....I have of course simply written what I want to hear without considering guitar technique or the need to have 11 fingers on the left hand. I will certainly alter the key to A and then rely on more excellent advice from you and Socrates to knock the thing into shape.

Thanks again,

Stephen

Arthur Olins said:

Stephen, being a Guitarist myself, I find a lot of this impossible to play, clustered chords are tricky for the guitar, it either causes difficult stretches or have to use higher frets in conjunction with open strings. I suggest you make a fingering chart to help determine if your voicing are possible. In measure 5, it is possible to play that chord (Bb6?) but the only place to play it is up the neck making the melodic stuff very difficult. measure 7 is impossible. Also the key of G is not an ideal key for this kind of stuff, great for folk songs and bluegrass but not flamenco, You might consider the key of A since the lower three open strings represent the primary chords of that key,

Hi Socrates.....long time no speak, so it's good to hear from you. You will see I have uploaded the piece as an XML but have yet to alter the key to A in line with Arthur's recommendation. As you know, any assistance you can give me would be very much appreciated and please don't be frightened of offending me...I have a thick skin and still have much to learn. Also, please don't spend too much time working on this, I know you're a busy fellah.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Stephen

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

Hi Stephen,

I did not hear the piece yet, this is an immediate reaction on the score as I opened straight to your thread this morning.

I would like to ask if you could also upload a XML file for your piece so that I can reload it on to my score writer without having to score it myself as it saves time.

I want to mainly copy the guitar part into the tablature and point out what I believe are some unnecessarily very hard/unplayable chords, although from what I perceive the spirit of the composition and its general direction are very nice indeed!

I hope you have a very good creative time in Spain.

Attachments:

Thanks for the XML Stephen. Since you intend to transpose the piece in A I will do the same and have a much closer look. I will be back as soon as I have finished with it. :-)

Be careful Mr Bream? LOL

That's ok Mr Ray! One can do only his best.

Hi Stephen,

I took this piece as a quasi-Flamenco idiom and I examine it mostly under that light but also as a given piece for finger picking techniques. What follows is not meant as a full edited reconsideration or a finished process, but only some first impressions on the technical side of things. In many instances I found that what makes it hard to play is the presence of 2nds in inner chordal factors. 2nds are a difficult area of guitar writing unless you are very clear of positions and strings involved.  Most of these chordal combinations are not hard in themselves but hard from what precedes and follows.

I would like to add here that despite all difficulties I like the music well, so congratulations on that score!

 

General Remarks as applying to attached PDF

  1. I created 2nd guitar and 2nd tablature staves for editing/commenting/suggestions
  2. Since you intent to transpose the whole piece, I did not bother with the 1st version at all-Just transposed it up a tone higher also to A.
  3. A is to me probably the most easy and well balanced tonality on the guitar as it has tonic, dominant and sub-dominant as open strings in the basses, but also high dominant, super tonic and flattened 7th as open strings. By this transposition the piece became much easier and more "guitaristic", many unplayable things becoming playable and many hard passages becoming easier, but still not all.
  4. I am not very familiar with flamenco idioms, is this a kind of Alegrias, Bulerias, Jota,  or similar dance? I am asking only in relation to tempo (q = 120) which seems fit.
  5. I delete castanet part as it does not affect the guitar part discussion.
  6. I have marked as "unplayable" or "U/P" what I consider to be so.
  7. I copy your guitar part into tablature staff but leaving tablature in default setting (I think it is in using open strings and 1st position where possible in Sibelius), anyway I can change strings/positions as I go along.
  8. I rename tablature staff as "guitar 1" and also "classical guitar" and "guitar 2" for the two added staves.
  9. I add occasional left hand fingerings (in small numbers 0-4) in tablature staff above the fret numbers in blue colour. (this is only a preference, other guitarist may want to change my choice of positions, strings and left hand fingerings), but I do suggestions in 2nd tablature and I do minimal changes in 1st tablature.

 

From a consideration of the whole piece I still think is quite hard even in A. I looked at it bar by bar in terms of difficulty and although many bars are in themselves easy, they are not so easy in context from what precedes and follows. The 2 most notable absents to me for idiomatic writing are the rasgueado playing which would be expected occasionally and the absence of legato markings for which one must consider the positions/strings involved in a particular passage. Many triplets should be marked as legato in such context.

 

Comments

 

bars 1-4 - no problems, all nice and easy.

bar 5 - guitar 1 suggestion is nonsense: Left hand cannot stretch from fret 1 in 2nd string to fret 7 in 5th and 4th  strings. The difficulty here is that if both bottom and top note are sounded (E & C) then G & A are mutually exclusive.

I give a suggestion in my additional guitar and tablature, trying to retain as much as possible of your part.

Bar 6 - comments as in previous bar

Bar 7 - as previously - see comment in PDF also

bar 8 - as previously

bars 9-14  -  fine

bar 15 - just the last quaver unplayable (I change it)

Bars 16- 22 just fine

bar 23 comment as in bar 5

bars 24-29 are ok also.

Bar 30, 1st beat is quite a hard stretch as notated regarding the 2 inner notes but I leave it as it is because it is not impossible with practice.

bars 31-47 fine

bar 48 unplayable , I give an alternative from the flow of the previous bar on the 4th string.

bars 49-55 fine

bar 56 - minim chord unplayable, I deduct one note.

bar 57 - 3rd beat chord unplayable, I deduct one note.

bars 58-62  fine.

bars 63-66 very similar to bars 5-8  adjustments done

bars 67- 84 fine

bar 85 possible but rather hard on the last chord.

bars 86-96  fine

bar 97 minim chord unplayable, adjustment done

bars 98-101 ok.

bar 102  -  is problematic all in 4 note chords. I don’t know what to suggest, perhaps a lighter 3 note texture (?)

here the succession in the given tempo is hard even involving the open strings that the tablature gives.

Bar 103 minim chord very hard/not possible, I suggest an alternative much more feasible (just the bass note at 8ve lower)

Bar 104 as above really so I transfer the bass by octave and follow this logic for bass 105 also.

Bars 106-110 ok

Bar 111 1st chord not possible -very high position even for my cutaway Takamine-best avoided. (Even if we had remained in the original tonality still too high)

bar 112 as above (I would not like to  suggest anything in these 2 bars as the piece climaxes).

Bars 113-114 possible as I mark them in tablature but hard.

Bars 115-128 ok

bar 129 ok but hard to follow from bar 128

bar 130 possible if taken as I suggest with open B and in high position, (rather than the Sibelius suggestion)

bar 131 3rd beat chord very awkward (easy if one of the inner factors is absent)

bars 132-138 ok (I just changed some Sibelius suggestions of fretting)

bar 139 possible but a bit hard to follow from bar 138)

Bar 141 3rd beat chord not possible , I deducted the F#, thus easy.

bar 145 chordal passage hard/not very idiomatic to guitar, has to be reconsidered

bars 147 151 ok

 

These are, I repeat, first impressions and you may want to consider some of the suggestions. I played through some sections. Quite hard on first acquittance, but not impossible.

Thanks for sharing!

Attachments:
Socrates,
Many thanks for your advice and hard thinking that has gone into your comprehensive reply....how good it is to hear from an expert!
I will spend considerable time looking at your recommendations and conclusions and listening to the final outcome. It goes without saying that I will send you the next stage of the piece's development that hopefully will be both playable and will sound good.
Thanks again for now.
Stephen

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

Hi Stephen,

I took this piece as a quasi-Flamenco idiom and I examine it mostly under that light but also as a given piece for finger picking techniques. What follows is not meant as a full edited reconsideration or a finished process, but only some first impressions on the technical side of things. In many instances I found that what makes it hard to play is the presence of 2nds in inner chordal factors. 2nds are a difficult area of guitar writing unless you are very clear of positions and strings involved.  Most of these chordal combinations are not hard in themselves but hard from what precedes and follows.

I would like to add here that despite all difficulties I like the music well, so congratulations on that score!

 

General Remarks as applying to attached PDF

  1. I created 2nd guitar and 2nd tablature staves for editing/commenting/suggestions
  2. Since you intent to transpose the whole piece, I did not bother with the 1st version at all-Just transposed it up a tone higher also to A.
  3. A is to me probably the most easy and well balanced tonality on the guitar as it has tonic, dominant and sub-dominant as open strings in the basses, but also high dominant, super tonic and flattened 7th as open strings. By this transposition the piece became much easier and more "guitaristic", many unplayable things becoming playable and many hard passages becoming easier, but still not all.
  4. I am not very familiar with flamenco idioms, is this a kind of Alegrias, Bulerias, Jota,  or similar dance? I am asking only in relation to tempo (q = 120) which seems fit.
  5. I delete castanet part as it does not affect the guitar part discussion.
  6. I have marked as "unplayable" or "U/P" what I consider to be so.
  7. I copy your guitar part into tablature staff but leaving tablature in default setting (I think it is in using open strings and 1st position where possible in Sibelius), anyway I can change strings/positions as I go along.
  8. I rename tablature staff as "guitar 1" and also "classical guitar" and "guitar 2" for the two added staves.
  9. I add occasional left hand fingerings (in small numbers 0-4) in tablature staff above the fret numbers in blue colour. (this is only a preference, other guitarist may want to change my choice of positions, strings and left hand fingerings), but I do suggestions in 2nd tablature and I do minimal changes in 1st tablature.

 

From a consideration of the whole piece I still think is quite hard even in A. I looked at it bar by bar in terms of difficulty and although many bars are in themselves easy, they are not so easy in context from what precedes and follows. The 2 most notable absents to me for idiomatic writing are the rasgueado playing which would be expected occasionally and the absence of legato markings for which one must consider the positions/strings involved in a particular passage. Many triplets should be marked as legato in such context.

 

Comments

 

bars 1-4 - no problems, all nice and easy.

bar 5 - guitar 1 suggestion is nonsense: Left hand cannot stretch from fret 1 in 2nd string to fret 7 in 5th and 4th  strings. The difficulty here is that if both bottom and top note are sounded (E & C) then G & A are mutually exclusive.

I give a suggestion in my additional guitar and tablature, trying to retain as much as possible of your part.

Bar 6 - comments as in previous bar

Bar 7 - as previously - see comment in PDF also

bar 8 - as previously

bars 9-14  -  fine

bar 15 - just the last quaver unplayable (I change it)

Bars 16- 22 just fine

bar 23 comment as in bar 5

bars 24-29 are ok also.

Bar 30, 1st beat is quite a hard stretch as notated regarding the 2 inner notes but I leave it as it is because it is not impossible with practice.

bars 31-47 fine

bar 48 unplayable , I give an alternative from the flow of the previous bar on the 4th string.

bars 49-55 fine

bar 56 - minim chord unplayable, I deduct one note.

bar 57 - 3rd beat chord unplayable, I deduct one note.

bars 58-62  fine.

bars 63-66 very similar to bars 5-8  adjustments done

bars 67- 84 fine

bar 85 possible but rather hard on the last chord.

bars 86-96  fine

bar 97 minim chord unplayable, adjustment done

bars 98-101 ok.

bar 102  -  is problematic all in 4 note chords. I don’t know what to suggest, perhaps a lighter 3 note texture (?)

here the succession in the given tempo is hard even involving the open strings that the tablature gives.

Bar 103 minim chord very hard/not possible, I suggest an alternative much more feasible (just the bass note at 8ve lower)

Bar 104 as above really so I transfer the bass by octave and follow this logic for bass 105 also.

Bars 106-110 ok

Bar 111 1st chord not possible -very high position even for my cutaway Takamine-best avoided. (Even if we had remained in the original tonality still too high)

bar 112 as above (I would not like to  suggest anything in these 2 bars as the piece climaxes).

Bars 113-114 possible as I mark them in tablature but hard.

Bars 115-128 ok

bar 129 ok but hard to follow from bar 128

bar 130 possible if taken as I suggest with open B and in high position, (rather than the Sibelius suggestion)

bar 131 3rd beat chord very awkward (easy if one of the inner factors is absent)

bars 132-138 ok (I just changed some Sibelius suggestions of fretting)

bar 139 possible but a bit hard to follow from bar 138)

Bar 141 3rd beat chord not possible , I deducted the F#, thus easy.

bar 145 chordal passage hard/not very idiomatic to guitar, has to be reconsidered

bars 147 151 ok

 

These are, I repeat, first impressions and you may want to consider some of the suggestions. I played through some sections. Quite hard on first acquittance, but not impossible.

Thanks for sharing!

Socrates,

You, I think, caught on to this unusual method I employed to start my approach to fulfilling a request to write something Spanish for acoustic guitar. Rather than do the normal thing of first studying the subject and the instrument before composing, I decided to go in with both feet and see what, if anything, Spanish I had picked up through osmosis during my 67 years on this earth. You have already heard the first attempt and, after due consideration, I consider it to be precisely what I should have expected....straightforward pastiche with little or no musical merit, apart from which (of course) it is entirely unplayable. You have taught me a lot in your reply and I am fascinated to see just how complex a subject Flamenco music is. In my further study I have come across the following (which you are probably aware of already) which gives a superb insight into the evolution of the subject and shows just how formulaic it is. That the majority of its evolution has been established and learnt by rote through the generations makes the whole subject even more fascinating to me. It has also taught me an abject lesson...study the subject first and stop winging it.

http://www.flamenco-guitars.com/flamenco_palos.html

I think on balance that I am probably too ancient to commence studying Flamenco with any hope of doing it justice...so I'll stick to the 'same old stuff' with which I am already familiar. But that's not to say I'll stop looking more closely at the subject as it's inherently interesting and will certainly help me to appreciate it's niceties and add to my enjoyment of it.

Again, many thanks for your helpful input.

Just don’t give up, Stephen, please.

The 20th century has witnessed the re-emergence of the guitar as a main and very admirable concert instrument with mass following.

And it was the first historical era (Bach's precedent is unique in the 18th century in writing for the lute). that a lot of its worthy repertoire has been composed by non-guitarist composers.

Just think of F. Martin in Switzerland, M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco and L. Berio in Italy, F. Poulenc in France, B. Britten, M. Tippet, M. Arnold, S. Dodgson in Britain, J. Rodrigo, J. Turrina, F. Moreno-Torroba in Spain and countless others. All these great composers were non guitarists, yet they left us a great legacy and an amazing in beauty and diversity guitar repertoire. Debussy also, once he had heard M. Llobet in a concert he approached him and ask him to collaborate/advise him for writing some guitar pieces. Well, Llobet was timid by nature and was also overpowered by Debussy's offer, so the project did not take off, and that is to the great loss of music and to the guitar world imo.

All these composers mainly worked with a guitar chart in front of them and rarely with a guitarist beside them, till they got into good grips with understanding the instrument well, to the extent that was not possible to detect their non guitarist approach in a piece.

To extract a guitar chart in tablature and also any possible chord formation from chord diagrams in the Sibelius should be quite easy, plus a lot of scales in single notes, 3rds, 6ths, 8ves and 10ths.

Your piece only needs more guitaristic thinking behind it. As music I liked it, and if you decide to continue with it or with something new, if I can offer any further advice/help, I will, when I have some spare time and web access.

Carry on, never is late for writing music, and I believe the wise bishop Isidore of Seville when he says "study as if you were going to live for ever!"

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