Arranging from piano to guitar?

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

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leedjarv

Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by leedjarv » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:20 pm

I would like to get tips for arranging piano pieces from piano sheet music to solo classical guitar or multiple guitars.
Talk about your experiences too! :D

Erik

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Non Tabius
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Non Tabius » Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:12 pm

Hi Erik I normally download the piano midi score into a Notation Program ,mayby you do have one.The program presents the score as normally written for the piano ,Treble and bass clef.
Some programs even merge the two clefs into just Treble clef.You can also transpose the clefs and octave lower in order to get the guitar to sound at its actual pitch but read an octave up as guitar music is actually read.
You will have leave out cirtain voices which might be practical on the piano but impractical or inpossable on the guitar and vice versa.You still get an idea wether the piece is suited for the guitar or not.There are of course many other ways of doing it and I am sure the members here would gladly offer assistance from an arranging point of view.
Google about a bit and see what Notation Programs suite your needs if you want to take that option.
Last edited by Non Tabius on Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Bernhard Heimann
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Bernhard Heimann » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Hi Erik!

Have you read Richard Yates' great book "The Transcriber's Art" (Mel Bay MB21987)?
The article series from "Soundboard" in this book contains many piano pieces transcribed for classical guitar
and - what is most valuable - Richard Yates' thoughts about how to do it.

Highly recommended.
:)
Bernhard

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DanielMcPherson
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by DanielMcPherson » Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:08 pm

Erik,

Getting the original piano score into a notation program, as Non Tabius suggests, helps out a great deal. I see from an earlier thread of yours that you use MuseScore. You can load a MIDI file of the piano music into MuseScore (assuming you can find it), but I've found it easier to simple enter the piano score into MuseScore manually. This also helps to familiarize myself with the piece, particularly to the harmonies which might otherwise be overlooked. Chances are your going to have to drop a lot of the harmony notes when reducing to a guitar score; entering the full piano score into MuseScore forces me to pay attention and notice the important harmonies and supporting lines that I should try to keep.

Once I have the piano score in MuseScore (and have played it to make sure everything sounds correct) I'll transpose the bass clef to treble (which I can read more readily) and start experimenting with keys. It's easy to transpose the entire piece, so I'll try several likely keys. Generally, the bass staff will have to come up an octave to be playable, and often the treble line will have to move up an octave as well to avoid colliding with the bass notes. For each of the possible keys, I'll then try to play it on guitar, figuring out what notes need to be dropped and whether the key will work. Even if a particular key seems promising, I'll still transpose and try a few more. Sometimes the right key makes everything fall into place on the fretboard.

Once you've found a key where everything seems like it will fit on the fretboard, the trick is to figure out how to play it and keep as many of the important notes and lines as you can. You'll find that some piano pieces simply won't work on guitar, but many of those may work as guitar duets.

Like most things, practice helps a lot. Find some piano pieces you like, try to transcribe them, and then try another. You'll get better at it the more you try.

Good luck!

syvx

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by syvx » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:38 am

Hi, it has been my experience in transcribing music from any particular instrument to the guitar that the key you write the music in for guitar is critical. Naturally the piano is much easier to access most key signatures especially since there are no redundant notes on the key board, like there is on a guitar. This being the case, an understanding of the composition is needed to be able to express the composition properly on a guitar without having the fingering be too unreasonable. Its ok to challenge a performer but it always has been my experience the more economical and considerate the fingering is for the guitarist the more they are willing to play what you write. Otherwise you get a bad reputation for not having enough experience. Same goes for other instruments you may write for like woodwinds or brass. They all have their own idiosyncrasies like a guitar does. Hope this does not confuse you too much.

amezcua

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by amezcua » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:42 pm

Fascinating information from these posts . I was confused about the phrase "redundant notes " on a guitar. What does that mean ? I`ve never heard of that before .I have a book of all the Chopin Mazurkas so it might be interesting to try this out .

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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:15 am

heimannb4 wrote:Hi Erik!

Have you read Richard Yates' great book "The Transcriber's Art" (Mel Bay MB21987)?
The article series from "Soundboard" in this book contains many piano pieces transcribed for classical guitar
and - what is most valuable - Richard Yates' thoughts about how to do it.

Highly recommended.
:)
Bernhard
Some The Transcriber's Art articles can be freely downloaded from Richard's web site.
Regards,
Vlad
(still testing various strings with 2006 Sebastian Stenzel and Olinda OC-300)

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jpryan
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by jpryan » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:24 am

amezcua wrote:I was confused about the phrase "redundant notes " on a guitar. What does that mean ? I`ve never heard of that before.
On the guitar, the same note (same exact pitch) can be found in multiple places. Not so on piano.
--John

scratchy

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by scratchy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:45 am

I always try to do the same proces:
1- look at the key signature and transpose if it is necessary
2- first write the lead voice
3- try to write the "bass" line as close as I can
4- fill out the harmony, usually with some kind of simplification to make the piece easier to play

That method uaually works for me, but i've never tried to do nothing really complicated...

Manusnobleguitar

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Manusnobleguitar » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:22 pm

Am currently making arrangements from some Japanese Studio Ghibli film scores from piano to guitar. A big task sometimes! Most important thing if arranging for solo guitar is, once identifying all the harmonies and key features, to find the best key to work in. Don't be afraid to use alternate tunings!

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Non Tabius
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Non Tabius » Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:15 am

Fernando Sor's Method obtainable on this site also has some useful tips regarding piano to guitar arrangements .
He adresses the attitude to adopt when transcribing from one medium to the other.

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Ted O'Farrell
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Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Ted O'Farrell » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:16 am


Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Postby Non Tabius » Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:15 am
Fernando Sor's Method obtainable on this site also has some useful tips regarding piano to guitar arrangements .
He adresses the attitude to adopt when transcribing from one medium to the other.
Thank you for the reference to Sor's Method, a great reference and read. :merci: :)
Ted
Hector Marrero 2001
"A Good Cup of Coffee"

"Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart." Andres Segovia

Pegasus

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by Pegasus » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:40 pm

i just started getting into transcribing,these were great tips,thanks!

alp arslan

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by alp arslan » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:07 pm

i've done some chopin things on guitar and one albinoni thing ,, you can't have all the basses you have to listen carefully to see which basses can be deleted without ruining the music completely ,,, AND know that not all Piano repretior can be transfered to guitar ,as well as not all guitar thing can be played one plano

rudelguitar

Re: Arranging from piano to guitar?

Post by rudelguitar » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:07 am

Enjoyable and informative posts. I'd like to add my two cents into this discussion. I've been arranging for over 30 years (that doesn't mean I don't have a lot to learn). Every new arrangement is a new challenge.

I agree finding the correct key for a keyboard piece is critical. My first step is to move a keyboard piece to a closely related "guitar" key, ex: E flat to E Major or D Major. The next thing I do is write the top melody on the staff, then the bass. These are usually the two most important voices (depending on the style of music). Then I cram in all the middle voices. At this point, the staff looks pretty messy, but then I start eliminating repeated notes in each chord, unless there is a reason for the repetition. (Some composers double notes in some chords due to their importance in the progression.) It is critical not to change the spirit of the piece. This being said, I try to use a sparse accompaniment for pieces that have many melody notes and more accompaniment for pieces that have long held out melodies.

I agree with alp in the previous post. There are many piano pieces that do not work on the guitar. I would go a step further and say there are many composers one should try to stay away from. For instance, I would never transcribe a Beethoven piece for the guitar. Mozart is mostly off the table, and there are probably only a few Chopin pieces that work on the guitar. Music written for the piano during the Romantic period were conceived for that instrument. The high notes are high for a reason and the low notes are low for a reason. In order to play many of these pieces on the guitar, an arranger must use octave transposition, which often distorts the intentions of the original composer and weakens the piece.

Music from the Baroque period works well on the guitar because the range and timbre of the clavichord is similar to that of the guitar. The harpsichord is also very close to that of the guitar (depending on the instrument used by the composer). Bach's music is unique, in my opinion, because he wrote pure music that works on almost anything. I've even heard convincing renditions of some of his pieces played on Tuba(s).

I think we must be careful about which pieces we transcribe for the guitar. The piano is a beautiful instrument that brings out what is necessary for its own compositions - and it's the same for the guitar. As an example, I would hate to hear a pianist arrange Recuerdos de la Alhambra for the piano. It could be done, but it would sound unnatural. I did hear a pianist play Romanza and it irritated me for some reason.

This being said, it's a good idea for guitarists to arrange music. Besides increasing the music available for the the guitar, it teaches the guitarist a lot about music and how it works. It is also the best first step toward learning to compose your own pieces.

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