Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Rognvald
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Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Rognvald » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:58 pm

I have been revisiting some pieces that I played in the past. Some of the areas that I notated for difficulty were relegated to a former self yet some of them still provide a challenge in regards to technical fluency when played. A performer has choices, however, when bringing a piece to fruition and there are several ways that one can skin the proverbial cat. Firstly, a player can look at several editions of the same work and chose those fingerings that work best with his level as a player and the physical dimensions of his hands. This, of course, is the easiest way. However, a solution I have found that works for me is when a particular phrase, chord, stretch will never be consistent, I will rewrite the voicing for better fluency and attempt to approximate the composer's musical intention. In most cases, it is not discernible even to the studied ear and when the piece is viewed in totality, there is, in my opinion, no offense to the composer. We all have to work within the physical limitations of our hands during every stage of our development and why would a player not want to include a favorite piece in his repertoire if it can be made to work. Is John Doe allowed to rewrite voicings to perform the pieces that he loves or will he forever be relegated to the status of a blasphemous maverick? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Rasputin
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Rasputin » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:15 pm

If you really do know that you are never going to be able to get something consistent, I'm all for revoicing. Still it doesn't feel good to admit defeat in this way, and I for one have no way of telling what will eventually come good and what will always seem just out of reach.

Rognvald
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Rognvald » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:22 pm

Very good point, Rasputin, but how much effort/time do you want to give to a voicing/fingering that perhaps you can only hit 60 or 70% of the time when you're performing when your goal is to get as close to 100% as possible. When do you separate the act of apprehension from the execution of consistentcy? How have you really violated the composer's intent? Couldn't the wasted time/practice be spent more productively and how important is it to the general impression to the listener . . . that's assuming that you are performing to an audience where it does matter? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Dirck Nagy
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Dirck Nagy » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:15 am

Rognvald wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:58 pm
...
"attempt to approximate the composer's musical intention"
...
Aside from the difficulty of determining the urtext, isn't this what we all do whenever we play a piece written by someone else? It ranges from my decision to apply certain dynamics in a passage to Julian Bream's cobbling together various pieces of Giuliani's Rossiniane into a unified whole.

And isn't this what any arranger does? God knows how many transcriptions exist out there for our poor little instrument!

And... its much more than that! Many of us play what we find to be most important within any work, whether or not it is *exactly* the composer's intent.

Attempting *exactly* the composer's musical intention is admirable, but will always fall short unless we ourselves are that composer.(and likely even if we are!) But playing what the composer evokes within us is artistic communion.

I rewrite stuff all the time! Of course, I'm not a touring concert performer or famous recording artist, but the only people i have had mention / notice my edits were themselves world-class guitarists.

It all depends on context. Is one auditioning, playing a contest, performing a concert, for friends, or just for one's self? And who is the composer? If its Albeniz, well, so what? ...He wrote for piano anyway, and there are so many differing interpretations. If its Bach...well, we'd better be careful! Sure, those are all transcriptions too, but we'd better know our Counterpoint if we want to make it convincing!

cheers!
dirck
2015 John H. Dick
1994 Larry Breslin ("Deerhead")
1952 Vincente Tatay

CactusWren
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by CactusWren » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:36 am

Depends on the context. For my own use, gigs, etc., I have no problem re-fingering, although actually I rarely do. Even other guitarists don't notice.

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:41 am

I'm with Rognvald on this. I'll omit a note, omit a slur etc. if it means that I can work on bringing the rest of the piece up to snuff smoothly--and then work on the last little niggling bit after that. If I were performing for friends, I'd play it safe. I'd rather play something beautifully and leave out a note or two than make obvious mistakes that mar the piece.

Bach or Mompou and the rest of the world don't really notice how I play them anyway. My teacher does. On Wednesday I'll explain why I'm missing a note in a chord in the piece that we're working on. I know I'll get it eventually. And it actually isn't niggling in this case.
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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:57 am

Sometime early in the 20th century, it was decided to take the notations of composers quite literally. Until about 1910, this was not the custom. The very earliest recordings of classical music show great liberty in reading scores. Then, these liberties started disappearing. I think that composers who wrote before 1910 would be comfortable with sensible, musically informed minor changes to scores for various reasons, such as playability, or bringing out a composer's idea more clearly.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

bensonm
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by bensonm » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:58 pm

This is very nice to hear. Every once in a while when I have a piece that I really like but can't quite get all of it, I'll drop a note from a chord or skip a slur, but I've always felt sort of guilty and incompetent when I do that. It's very reassuring to hear that others do this, too, and I especially agree with the idea that it's better for the spirit of a piece to play it cleanly with expression as opposed to just making sure that every single note is struck.
Michael L. Benson
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Rognvald
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Rognvald » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:17 pm

Yes, yes and yes. We have a unique instrument that requires significantly more than other instruments since voicings can be played in many ways to achieve the desired results. When I played woodwinds, you always knew where B flat above middle C was located and there were very few alternate fingerings of the keys to consider. We know this is not the case with the CG and the more knowledge one has of Music Theory the better able he/she is to adapt a piece to a maximum performance level. After all, what we do is about SOUND and when we become overly entangled in pedagogical dicta we risk losing our musical raison d'etre. I think the composers will forgive us. Paying again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

bensonm
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by bensonm » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:12 am

Actually, the ability of the guitar to produce alternate voicings is sometimes used to make a piece more difficult. There's a piece by Edson Lopes called Cancao Triste that can be played entirely in the first position, but he has a video of it where he jumps all over the place up to fifth position. Of course, it sounds beautiful when he plays it that way, but I stick with the first position version.
Michael L. Benson
Cervantes Rodriguez Concert
Aria AC60

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:48 am

Cancao Triste is a lovely piece. Playing it in the first position, as I primarily do, does involve some tricky (for me) right hand fingerings. In fact it's these right hand fingerings that are the most complicated thing about this not very complicated piece for me. I wonder if Lopes' version helps with string crossings and allows a more fluid and consistent right hand pattern?

Oh and I often find that playing in higher positions makes a piece easier than its alternate in the first position.
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bensonm
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by bensonm » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:18 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:48 am
Cancao Triste is a lovely piece. Playing it in the first position, as I primarily do, does involve some tricky (for me) right hand fingerings. In fact it's these right hand fingerings that are the most complicated thing about this not very complicated piece for me. I wonder if Lopes' version helps with string crossings and allows a more fluid and consistent right hand pattern?

Oh and I often find that playing in higher positions makes a piece easier than its alternate in the first position.
I never thought about that. Most of my problems involve my left hand. I don't have too much trouble figuring out fingerings, but you're right playing in a higher position might make some pieces easier. It definitely changes the sound.
Michael L. Benson
Cervantes Rodriguez Concert
Aria AC60

PeteJ
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by PeteJ » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:33 am

I'd be annoyed if someone changed my written notes and it's certainly dangerous with someone like Sor who pays attention to every note and often has important subtleties in the inner parts. If a piece is moderately difficult throughout but has one or two hugely difficult bars this seems like poor composition to me. But some pieces are all about colour and flair and not the precise details of the notes, and then maybe it's a different issue.

Rognvald
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Re: Guitar fingerings and John Doe

Post by Rognvald » Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:34 pm

"If a piece is moderately difficult throughout but has one or two hugely difficult bars this seems like poor composition to me. " PeteJ

Hi, Pete,
This certainly, in my opinion, is one element which many CG's recognize but refuse to address since they believe that once a piece is written it becomes sacred. This might be so for piano, woodwinds, brass, and string players but not for CG's since our instrument is so uniquely different in regards to multiple fingerings/voicings. If music is communication, then why don't we want to communicate as effectively as possible. My personal performance goal is to communicate the artistic vision of the composer for a particular piece. In my opinion, there is not a single note, chord, mordant, etc. that will make or break a piece in totality. . . well, perhaps the opening to Beethoven's Fifth . . . but this is a different matter.
Playing again . . . Rognvald https://youtu.be/_4IRMYuE1hI
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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