Friday, October 4, 2013

Thank You Jeffrey McFadden: Of Interest To Guitar Players

I have mostly recovered from my accident last December and can play piano again. But my brief retrospective return to playing guitar has been lots of fun.  I'll probably keep it up a bit.

Looking at the massive corpus of classic guitar music and lute music available for free online was quite an eye opener for me.  If we had such resources available in my student days and computers to make writing papers and producing finished scores so easy a lot of us would have had much different lives in music.

One thing that I found this week is so excellent, so practically vital to guitar players that I'm astonished to find it is available for free.  Fretboard Harmony for University Study: Method and Historical Context, the doctoral dissertation of Jeffrey James McFadden of the University of Toronto contains the best practical advice on improvising harmony in a classical (or any) context that it's an act of real charity that it's being given away for less than twenty dollars a copy. I recommend it and if I ever have an occasion to teach guitar again, I'll use it.

The exercises are so good I would advise people interested in historical performance to adapt them to lute tuning.  While they are general and not geared to historical practice they will get you a lot farther down that road than anything else I'm aware of.   Also available are the two facsimiles of the very rare early treatises dealing with this subject, both in the original Spanish.  Here is the pdf for Santiago de Murcia's Resumen de acompaƱar , this and other articles available online can go a long way to clarifying the text and the tablature.   Somewhat less clear and more suggestive than explicit is this text by the famous Gaspar Sanz, the part relevant to this post, his "short treatise on how to accompany perfectly" at the end of the text.  Reading the tablatures from the originals is challenging but kind of fun.  But I'd master McFadden's exercises first before honing them to any particular historical period.

Update:  Someone pointed out this file of the Murcia Resumen to me, which is displayed much more clearly on my browser.  I haven't tried printing out pages from it.

No comments:

Post a Comment