How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

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

Post by Steve Langham » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:25 am

I do like this piece and I did it last year for my AMEB exam, over here in Australia it is grade 4.

To comment on Connall’s point about dumbing down - my teacher has said the same about the AMEB syllabus but his take on it was that it is about trying to make the grades more accessible and making the step up from grade 1 onwards not quite as difficult as it once was, making the learning curve a little less steep. Going through the grades having done 3 and 4 and soon to do 5 I think each step up provides an extra challenge but not so much so that you lose motivation.

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

Post by Conall » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:57 am

Steve Langham wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:25 am
I do like this piece and I did it last year for my AMEB exam, over here in Australia it is grade 4.

To comment on Connall’s point about dumbing down - my teacher has said the same about the AMEB syllabus but his take on it was that it is about trying to make the grades more accessible and making the step up from grade 1 onwards not quite as difficult as it once was, making the learning curve a little less steep. Going through the grades having done 3 and 4 and soon to do 5 I think each step up provides an extra challenge but not so much so that you lose motivation.
I understand what you're saying but if we took the attitude that we need to dumb down everything to make grade progression more accessible we would end up in the position that the required level to qualify as a teacher would also drop resulting (in this case) in guitar students suffering ultimately in that their teachers wouldn't be able to teach them the popular challenging pieces (like Recuerdos & Asturias) never mind play them well.

In fact it is already happening: plenty of supposedly qualified guitar teachers read poorly / don't play CG well.

There is a good reason to insist on high standards in CG - since at a high level it is a fiendishly difficult instrument. If the difference in level between the old grades was too wide they should have added more grades - maybe an extra one between each.

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

Post by crazyrach97 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:10 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
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).
My boyfriend doesn't use rest strokes on that... says it prematurely dampens the previous note in the arpeggio. He's good at bringing out the melody anyway.

Good tip on Solo Now... I was thinking about getting that book. I'm casting around for modern student guitar repertoire at the moment.

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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 12:16 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:10 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:
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).
My boyfriend doesn't use rest strokes on that... says it prematurely dampens the previous note in the arpeggio. He's good at bringing out the melody anyway.

Good tip on Solo Now... I was thinking about getting that book. I'm casting around for modern student guitar repertoire at the moment.
What level are you at (I have written six guitar books - big hint)?

You can see me if you type in my name then Lulu, the book publisher. No commercial links allowed here!

edit - just checked your other posts. My transcriptions are not modern, I'm a traditionalist.
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crazyrach97
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by crazyrach97 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:40 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:16 pm


What level are you at (I have written six guitar books - big hint)?

You can see me if you type in my name then Lulu, the book publisher. No commercial links allowed here!

edit - just checked your other posts. My transcriptions are not modern, I'm a traditionalist.
I'll keep it in mind for later. Right now I'm feeling like all I'm getting exposed to is traditional styles... and I like them... but I'd like to be checking out some more modern student-level pieces while I'm at it just to see what it's about. I've picked up a couple of things. What didn't you like about solo now? And what do you do transcriptions of?

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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 1:53 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:40 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:16 pm


What level are you at (I have written six guitar books - big hint)?

You can see me if you type in my name then Lulu, the book publisher. No commercial links allowed here!

edit - just checked your other posts. My transcriptions are not modern, I'm a traditionalist.
I'll keep it in mind for later. Right now I'm feeling like all I'm getting exposed to is traditional styles... and I like them... but I'd like to be checking out some more modern student-level pieces while I'm at it just to see what it's about. I've picked up a couple of things. What didn't you like about solo now? And what do you do transcriptions of?
I have done duet books of pieces for student and teacher, - maybe you and your BF could play the duets? - just search my name on Google and guitar books.

I have also done a recent book of transcriptions of a variety of musical styles - see the members' announcements. I always work from old piano scores and adapt them to guitar.

What don't I like about Solo Now? - I just happen to think that the pieces are terrible; almost zero musical interest - and I am not being anti-modernist, as most of the pieces are fairly tonal. They also published a few books of student and teacher duets. Most were really badly arranged, so I was inspired to have a go myself a few years back. It is incredibly hard to write something that is simple and also effective...perhaps harder than writing something that is more complex. Short pieces also need to make an impression in the space of only a few bars. I know that I would struggle.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:13 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
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!
Great eduction Rob; I'm afraid you're joint second :lol:
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RobMacKillop
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:18 pm

There must be quite a gap between second and first! ;-)

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

Post by Tony Hyman » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:00 pm

I think it's because it is so under the fingers and the chords are popular. Ones you would find in any chord chart, eg diminished,maj 7,min7 also m7b5 for example, with their alternative chordal nomenclature. Most of the stuff you find in any pop tune today. It finds direct application to other genres besides cg only. That's what I found in my travels with it. Of course there are many others as well but this one seems to be a total hit for players and audiences, I find.

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

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:08 pm

Conall wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:25 am
Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:15 am
....
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......
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......
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).
Well I am as sure as I can be without digging out loads of old syllabi, that when it was on the syllabus for AB it was always Grade 5. Can't say re Trinity.
Changes of educational standards, or approaches, are a complicated matter and not always as obvious as may seem. Once upon a time, Walton Bagatelles nos 1, and 2, were on the same Grade 8 syllabus, along with, at one time, Villa Lobos Etude 11. The huge disparity between Walton 1 and VL 11, and Walton 2, was never justified, was never a good idea, and the removal of that, to many, obvious error was not a dumbing down, it was a rationalisation of an extremely ill-judged selection. The point is intended to be illustrative; the way pieces were chosen in the past was not (still isn't) a very scientific process and the general direction of change has been an improvement.
The particular overall area one might consider in this has been that of parity with other instruments. There will always be some differences between the physical nature of different instruments and the physical development of players, especially young ones. The focus of change in the exam syllabus at least for ABRSM, in the 1990s, was to shift the earlier grades so that they were at least closer to the physical demands placed by the range of other instruments.
The biggest contrast tends to be between instruments like flute and clarinet, vs guitar and piano.
Students of the former not infrequently get to grade 1 within a year or two of starting as beginners (and I mean, beginners) and in doing so, are using the technical foundations that will carry them seamlessly onto the higher grades.
Students of guitar at least have often been at least two years behind that in getting to Grade 1. Part of the way to change this was to introduce the option of duets, in which the candidate plays a single line accompanied by guitar (or piano if necessary), and in so doing is playing something close to what a woodwind or string player would play. However the danger here is that the candidate gets into the grades at the expense of a properly foundational technique and to this end it has been required that at least one solo piece be performed, hence using technical foundations that will scale up. To be exact, for the duets a single-line apoyando - heavy technique can work well, but for the solo a properly solo-friendly tirando - based technique has to be used. Hence the development of the, I have to say, extremely fine Solo Now! books which all promote tirando technique.
I have to point out that part of the sketchy nature of the above relates to the fact that the new ABRSM syllabus is awaiting release at the time of writing and so some further changes may be introduced, in either pedagogical direction, when it appears.
And I suppose for full disclosure I should add that I have a book in the ABRSM syllabus at present, on Grades 1 & 2. I have no pecuniary interest in Solo Now! or the One+One duet books. The point also there is that I write as one who has been, if tangentially, involved in the processes described above.

I'd like to respectfully add that Carcassi 3 is not really an arpeggio study (I know it wasn't described exactly such but nearly so and its a common mis-conception). It is a study in melody accompanied by a broken-chord texture. It is however extremely well observed that a question has to be asked about how the 'a' finger tackles this (and this is discussed in other posts to this thread) e.g. whether free or rest stroke. It really doesn't matter for most purposes how the composer would have considered the use of 'a'; in modern technique its what we do, and students 'should' use it for this piece, as they 'should' in Sor, unless and until they wish to delve into original 19th century techniques on an appropriate instrument etc.

As for the other point - chicken and egg? Is it popular because its used by teachers and syllabi, or is it used thus because its popular?
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crazyrach97
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Re: How did Carcassi Etude #3 become so popular?

Post by crazyrach97 » 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 (and this is discussed in other posts to this thread) e.g. whether free or rest stroke. It really doesn't matter for most purposes how the composer would have considered the use of 'a'; in modern technique its what we do, and students 'should' use it for this piece, as they 'should' in Sor, unless and until they wish to delve into original 19th century techniques on an appropriate instrument etc.
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. On Sor op 35 no 22 he uses rest stroke for the melody because the arpeggio descends from the melody note instead of ascending to it. Thoughts?

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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 7:28 pm

I agree that the rest stroke (for most people at least) sounds clunky and out of place, and yes, it stops the string below from ringing as soon as it is played.

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

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:40 pm

I teach it with rest stroke on the melody, but also free stroke - the student has to hear and feel the difference. 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. Most, if not all, students seem to prefer it this way, as they feel more in control. Of course, we need that control when using the annular finger as well. Sor's Bm study is another place where it can be helpful not to use the ring finger at all.

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

Post by Adam » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:47 pm

Don't like 3, but 7 is pretty cool.

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

Post by Conall » 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.

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