How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

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David Norton
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How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by David Norton » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:13 pm

Carcassi's "Etude #3" from the 25 Etudes Op. 60 is a phenomenally popular student piece. Probably it is second in popularity only to Sor's B minor study, Op. 35 #22, a/k/a Segovia #5. What I am curious about is, "how did Etude #3's huge popularity come about?" None of The Big Name Players of 50-80 years ago recorded it. In fact, I am unsure when the first LP recording of Etude #3 happened. It doesn't appear on professional recital program pages of 1930s-1970s either. Nothing about it in "Soundboard" magazine, or "Guitar Review" either.

The earliest recording I can find is by the obscure Russian guitarist Anatole Malukoff, who recorded all 25 of the Carcassi studies in the mid-1950s when he emigrated to New York City. Malukoff died shortly after this LP was completed, so he never had a wide following outside Russia or NYC. The disc was recorded for the Spanish Music Center, which was a local label in NYC with limited distribution.


Carcassi 25.jpg


Yes, it's a fine piece, and well worth playing. So are many of the other 24 in the Op. 60 book. But #3 has attained Super-stardom, and I cannot figure out what or who caused this to happen. The idea that thousands of classical guitar teachers all coincidentally glommed onto this same Carcassi study around the same era is unfathomable.
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Martin
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Martin » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:40 pm

I often think the influence of Fred Noad is greatly underestimated.

The 1st edition of his "Solo Guitar Playing" included the Carcassi Op 60/3, along with Sor's Op 35/17, Op 35/22 and Op6/8, selections from De Visee's D minor suite, some of the Chilesotti lute pieces, and Tarrega's Lagrima and Adelita. I think he effectively created the core of a beginner/intermediate repertoire that other teachers have been drawing on for half a century.

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

Post by crazyrach97 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:36 pm

Martin wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:40 pm
I often think the influence of Fred Noad is greatly underestimated.

The 1st edition of his "Solo Guitar Playing" included the Carcassi Op 60/3, along with Sor's Op 35/17, Op 35/22 and Op6/8, selections from De Visee's D minor suite, some of the Chilesotti lute pieces, and Tarrega's Lagrima and Adelita. I think he effectively created the core of a beginner/intermediate repertoire that other teachers have been drawing on for half a century.
And it's still a great collection. I'm learning from SGP 4th edtition, and I'm continually impressed by the high caliber of the music he selected. By contrast I've played through some of the earlier pieces in the half-dozen other beginner methods my BF has lying around, and none of the other authors did nearly as good a job picking pieces. I haven't gotten to that one yet, but my BF like to use it as a warm-up and god it sure is a pretty piece. I can't wait to play it myself.

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

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:38 pm

I too first encountered it in Fred Noad's book. I'm just reminded that he once emailed me. It is so long ago, I'm half thinking I might be dreaming! But he did, in the early days of the internet, saying he had a heard a recording I did of the Weiss suite which appears in his Baroque book, and kindly saying he enjoyed it. I was bowled over by his kindness and willingness to reach out. I happily replied that not only had I played his version, but that his Solo Guitar Playing Volume 1 got me started. I couldn't afford a teacher, so used his book to learn with. He never wrote further, and then I heard he had died. I love that book, a still use it with students today.

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

Post by Karen » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:08 pm

I didn’t know this piece so checked out YouTube for it. Stephen Kenyon has a wonderful lesson on it, and he plays it so beautifully first I now really want to learn it someday. Maybe that is why it is so popular. What level would it be? I’m playing out of the Grade 2 RCM book at the moment.

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

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:28 pm

Strangely (perhaps) - I first came across it in the Carcassi volume itself, though I can't remember now which edition it was.

I know that it was in John Mills' collection, "Music from the Student Repertoire" (around the early 70s) which included most of what could now be called "the usual suspects", you know:

de Visée - from the suite in Dm
Logy - from the Partita in Am
Sor - studies and lessons
The common Italians - Carulli, Carcassi, Giuliani
Tárrega - Lagrima, Adelita

In 1966 Volume 43 from "The World's Favourite" series (edited by Harvey Vinson) also had it (along with the rest of the usuals).
In 1961 Vahda Olcott Bickford was already using Carcassi studies in her method - you would need to check which ones.

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

Post by Martin » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:39 pm

Karen wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:08 pm
I didn’t know this piece so checked out YouTube for it. Stephen Kenyon has a wonderful lesson on it, and he plays it so beautifully first I now really want to learn it someday. Maybe that is why it is so popular. What level would it be? I’m playing out of the Grade 2 RCM book at the moment.
Its level D05 in the Delcamp system.

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

Post by Karen » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:10 pm

Thanks for the info, Martin. If cg is teaching me anything it’s patience! So here is more music to be patient for.

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

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:15 am

Martin wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:39 pm
Karen wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:08 pm
I didn’t know this piece so checked out YouTube for it. Stephen Kenyon has a wonderful lesson on it, and he plays it so beautifully first I now really want to learn it someday. Maybe that is why it is so popular. What level would it be? I’m playing out of the Grade 2 RCM book at the moment.
Its level D05 in the Delcamp system.
Thanks for the mention Karen :D
As well as D05 its been a staple ABRSM Grade 5 for as long as I can remember and I think I did it for that. I would have known it from the anthology Worlds Favorite # 43 which I'd guess predates Noad. Btw Rob I think he emailed me too once! Dunno why.
But from the WF book I just remember over the following years gravitating back to that piece, so would surmise many other folks share a sense of attraction to it for its merits, without needing celebrity endorsements. That the brainiest person I know would dedicate a teachers' conference lecture to it (along with BWV 998 Prelude another year) suggests it is indeed near the summit of the marriage of pedagogic value and artistic vision.
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:54 am

Who's the brainiest person you know? Jonathan Leathwood?

Phew, just spotted my spellchecker changed brainiest to brainless!

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

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:13 am

It's a very effective little piece that I am sure that we have all played.

The question is - would you encourage your pupils to play the melody on string one with a rest stroke (the old fashioned approach, Carcassi probably did not play it that way)?

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.

You can't beat the guitar masters who really understood how to write effective, yet ostensibly simple music (it might look simple, but is full of harmonic twists and turns).
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by mike.janel » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:38 am

Is it so popular? I was probably disconnected.
Judging by the number of vids of it on youtube, it is indeed so.
Personally I find it a bit boring, unless the player is really very very good at expressive playing.
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:47 am

Chances are he did use p. i. m. a. in etude 3, in the same manner that a modern player would. He played without nails or at least he instructs not for the string to make contact with the nail. Rest stroke is mentioned but only for the thumb.
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Conall » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:25 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:15 am
Martin wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:39 pm
Karen wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:08 pm
I didn’t know this piece so checked out YouTube for it. Stephen Kenyon has a wonderful lesson on it, and he plays it so beautifully first I now really want to learn it someday. Maybe that is why it is so popular. What level would it be? I’m playing out of the Grade 2 RCM book at the moment.
Its level D05 in the Delcamp system.
Thanks for the mention Karen :D
As well as D05 its been a staple ABRSM Grade 5 for as long as I can remember and I think I did it for that. I would have known it from the anthology Worlds Favorite # 43 which I'd guess predates Noad. Btw Rob I think he emailed me too once! Dunno why.
But from the WF book I just remember over the following years gravitating back to that piece, so would surmise many other folks share a sense of attraction to it for its merits, without needing celebrity endorsements. That the brainiest person I know would dedicate a teachers' conference lecture to it (along with BWV 998 Prelude another year) suggests it is indeed near the summit of the marriage of pedagogic value and artistic vision.
Grade 5?! I seem to remember doing it for ABRSM in v late / v early 80s for grade 3!
So either I'm totally wrong or the ABRSM (& Trinity) levels have been dropping as part of the dumbing down / fall in general educational standards.
Another example is Trinity London grade 3 which has a Carcassi Allegretto in C major from his Method starting egfde in quavers. I definitely remember doing this for my grade 1 in the late 70s!
Getting back to Etude 3 - it's pleasantly chordal arpeggio & not too challenging nature along with it being a favourite teaching study among teachers (and very frequent inclusion in grade syllabi) explains it's popularity I'd say.
It's very useful for developing the strength of the a finger - learning to emphasize it in arpeggios by either pulling more into the palm (tirando) or for learning how to combine apoyando in the a finger with tirando in the others (and combining rest stroke a with free stroke p).

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

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:44 am

I love the brief change from triplets to two quavers - catches many a student out :-)

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