Carlevaro - Technique

This discussion thread is dedicated to Carlevaro's technical aspect of his work.

How to Get Started

Maestro Carlevaro introduced his technical ideas to his students by using the technical Cuadernos accompanied by the School of Guitar book.

  • School of Guitar: Exposition of Instrumental Theory
  • Didactic Serie for Guitar, Cuaderno #1 - Diatonic Scales
  • Didactic Serie for Guitar, Cuaderno #2 - Right Hand Technique
  • Didactic Serie for Guitar, Cuaderno #3 - Left Hand Technique
  • Didactic Serie for Guitar, Cuaderno #4 - Left Hand Technique (Conclusion)
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  • To start this thread on the technical aspect of his work, I thought it would be good to start with a Carlevaro quote from the preface of this book, School of Guitar:

    "The unfolding of the history of the guitar presents us with a wide panorama and an evolution that is logical and progressive.  This history is full of virtues and defects, both of which can serve as very important guides: the virtues have laid out a sure path, on which we should follow with determination; the defects, when examined, should arrest our attention in order to discover how not to err in the same way again."

    A question was raised in the General Discussion thread as to how to begin exploring Carlevaro's pedagogic school and technical ideas, particularly for those who are new to Carlevaro's school of guitar.  Acknowledging that there are a wide variety entry points to Carlevaro's ideas and that guitarists have different interests and technical needs; I can only share with you what was my entry point into his school of guitar.

    When I first started studying with the Maestro in 1980, the School of Guitar book had just been published and I used the book as reference as I methodically went through all four Cuadernos with Carlevaro over a six-month period, applying the principles that were laid out in his book. It should also be noted that while in each Cuaderno, the order of the exercises is progressive, the Cuadernos themselves are not meant to be followed in a numerical order.  I worked on all four of Cuadernos simultaneously.  As I went through the Cuadernos with the Maestro, I was also studying with him selected repertoire where I could begin applying his technical ideas to the music.  

    I will end this post by asking if others Blaise Laflamme Moyses Lopes who are familiar with Carlevaro's teachings want to share with the group how they approached studying Carlevaro's school of guitar.

    Like 3
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Before starting to talk about my journey, I would like to emphasize one idea that Dale Needles brought in: There are a wide variety of entry points to Carlevaro's School.
      I agree that the order of the exercises in each one is progressive, but it's possible to identify sections inside them. For example, Cuaderno 2 - for the Right Hand - has arpeggios (formulas 1 to 116), repeated notes (like tremolo) in formulas 117 to 197, elasticity (198 to 202), repeated chords (203-217), and so on. Hence, it's possible to approach a particular section to study specific technique issues. This way, good knowledge about the entire Cuadernos is fundamental to a tutor orienting a student. In my opinion, is very difficult (but not impossible) to start without guidance.

       

      As Dale, I started on all four Cuadernos simultaneously. My tutor didn't tell me about the School of Guitar book and nowadays I think the approach was too focused on velocity instead control. Even so, it was an amazing (and joyful) journey and I remember how glad I was to plan my studies and pursuing goals. Since when I can remember I have always planned my studies by alternating hands to avoid injury. With the gesture acquired, the exercise goes into a kind of maintenance mode and I started another one. I have had this practice til today, and I'm always looking for (and studying) other methods or schools but Carlevaro's School is my preferred one.

      Like 4
    • Dale Needles that's such a great experience to have studied the SoG with Carlevaro himself. I hope you will share some specific tips or anecdotes that you have personally experienced with him and on your own path.

      Like 1
    • Moyses Lopes great path you had with the SoG and it seems you find your way of learning and at the same time you were aware of your body to carefully progress through the Cuadernos. Did you play any of Carlevaro's composition outside the pedagogical material?

      Like 1
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Blaise Laflamme Unfortunately, I have played just Campo e Scherzino, from Prelúdios Americanos. This is a lack I have to fill, for sure.

      Like 1
      • David
      • David.39
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Moyses Lopes Hello Moyses, Thank you for sharing your experience. I asked a general question in the General part of this discussion forum, but wanted to ask you a specific follow-up question here since you have such great experience with Carlevaro's works. As a more novice guitarist looking to organize technical work to accompany learning beginning/beginning-intermediate repertoire, would you recommend reading through "The School of Guitar" and perhaps a selection from Cuaderno 1 an 2 each day, plus one of his MicroStudies? How would you recommend selecting and working through the Cuadernos and text in the School? Thank you in advance for any tips you could share with a motivated, but beginning student of guitar ( I have musicianship from violin, but am learning guitar).

      Like 1
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      David 

      David, I'll try to answer you. In my case, I used to have a routine with a selection from books 1, 2, 3, and 4. The book 2 I used to divide him this way:

      - Arpeggios (forms 1 to 116)
      - Repeated notes (117-197)
      - Elasticity (198-202
      - Repeated Chords (203-217)
      - Thumb (218-226)
      - Combined exercises (227-230)

      Book 3:
      - Displacement by substitution (forms 1-25)
      - Displacement by hand displacement (26-49)
      - Other forms (50-68)
      - Displacement by jump (69-86)

      Book 4:
      - Legato (simple, mixed, continuous, trills, double, simple) (forms 1 to 64)
      - Longitudinal movement (forms 65-77)
      - Distention and contraction (78-86)
      - Distention and contraction with fixed fingers (87-94)
      - Transverse movement (95-110)
      - Transverse movement with fixed fingers (111-115)

      How I have oriented my studies? Apart from the repertoire study I have a technique routine in which I choose some exercises from books, in this order (as an example):

      Book 4 forms 65 to 68
      Book 2 forms 1 to 4
      Book 4 - 69 to 72
      Book 2 - 5 to 8
      Book 4 - 73 74
      Book 2 - 9 to 12
      Book 4 - 75 to 77
      Book 2 - 201 to 202
      Book3 - 69 to 75
      Book 2 - 201 to 202 (again)
      Book3 - 66 to 79

      What's the idea behind this? I choose some movement or gesture to study in RH and LH and choose the formulas where I can do that, and I put this in order (and in a certain quantity) to don't stress my muscles, alternating LH study and RH study. After that, I practice Book 1.

      If you are not familiar with the concepts of Carlevaro's School, I guess that the book SoG is the best way to learn, but you can start the practice immediately, oriented by the division expressed in books 2, 3, and 4. Carlevaro's books are not sequenced like Hanon's exercises for piano, for that is fundamental to understanding how they are divided into chapters. With this vision, you can take the decision to acquire this or that gesture, this or that mechanic. 

      Sorry about my English, and I hope I can help you a bit. Regards!

      Like 2
    • Moyses Lopes That's a really interesting breakdown that gives me some idea of how it's possible to use the books. I'm going through it all of the material now, but I think this will be really helpful.

      Like 1
      • David
      • David.39
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Moyses Lopes This is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time and for sharing your routine and the example tailored to a specific RH/LH gesture.

      Like 1
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Steve Price and David Good to know, guys! Feel free to keep in touch. Regards!

      Like
  • I started the study of the SoG by myself roughly 4 years before going to study with Pierri. It all started after hearing Pierri play on the radio and I was blown away by what he was doing, I was listening to music.... not guitar, and this is how I discovered about Carlevaro. The Escuela is written in an abstract way that I had never seen at that time in any guitar instructional book, and as an intellectual, I'm also a software engineer, I really liked that approach... it matched my brain. I worked on my position first, I felt something was wrong with mine because it wasn't natural, and Carlevaro's approach demystified and liberated it for me. For the technique itself, as for music works, I always work a minimum of 3 at a time, there is a circular reinforcement which allows me to better assimilate and it has worked very well for me for years. After all that time, I can simply say that the SoG has definitely given me indispensable tools to express my musical ideas.

    Like 3
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Blaise Laflamme 4 years by yourself?!?! You're brave, man! As you said, the principles in the SoG are liberating.  Good to read you!

      Like
    • Moyses Lopes haha... or rather crazy! I am mainly an autodidact, but my years with Pierri have clarified many things 😅

      Like
  • As we continue our journey into Carlevaro's School of Guitar, for Carlevaro it all starts with a balanced sitting position. While all our bodies are different, the key for Carlevaro is to find the right balance or as he calls is the "stable state of equilibrium."

    "The guitar must accommodate itself to the body and not the body to the guitar...Flexibility should be the outstanding feature of player's position, which can be individualized only after the player has taken into account his or her own anatomical characteristics." 

    If you are interested to learn more about Carlevaro's approach to posture and sitting position, check out Chapter 1 of his "School of Guitar".  He also goes over it in detail in the "Carlevaro Masterclass" Youtube Video.

    Like 2
    • Dale Needles this is indeed the first concept I studied in SoG as I was not satisfied with the guitar position I had back in time. My current sitting and guitar positions are almost the same since then, with a few adjustments overtime based on my body and other readings and experiments.

      Like 1
  • Before we venture into discussing Carlevaro's approach to both the right and left hands and how his approach is innovative, it is important to understand Carlevaro's guiding philosophical view when it comes to guitar technique.  I would point you to Chapter Three of the "School of Guitar, The Guitarist and His (Her/Their) Total Development."  It is in this chapter that Carlevaro lays the foundation of his school of guitar by presenting his underlying philosophy about technique (Technique at the Service of Art) and defining his key concept, "FIJACION."

    "Art pertains to the realm of the soul, and technique belongs to that of reason. Through the happy union of these two elements is born an artistic manifestation, a real symbiosis..." 

    FIJACION is defined as the "Voluntary and momentary nullification or immobility of one or more articulations for the purpose of allowing stronger and more capable elements to perform in a particular way." (Abel Carlevaro)

    Like 2
    • Dale Needles the fixation concept has strongly enlarged and shaped my playing over the years. Although the concept can be understood intellectually and quickly integrated in simple cases, it takes time to master, but its benefits are incomparable.

      Like 2
  • Tip for the Week - Cuaderno No. 2 - RH:  First, I suggest for you to read Chapters IV & V in Carlevaro's "School of Guitar."  As you will see, Carlevaro has a very innovative approach to the RH with great emphasis on different strokes (toques) in order to elicit a wide range of Timbre. In doing so, he realizes Berlioz' artistic vision of the guitar as a miniature orchestra.  

    If you venture into Cuaderno No. 2 - RH, you will see that the first set of Formulas 1 - 102 are arpeggios exercises with different right-hand patterns along with changing base patterns.  Carlevaro recommends, that once you are comfortable with the different i,m,a patterns, to practice these exercises in groups of 12.  So, for exercises 1 - 12, start Formula 1 on the first fret, then shift to Formula 2 on the second fret, etc. until you get to fret seven, then return, ending on fret two.  Additionally, Formula 4 should come before Formula 3 and Formula 8 before Formula 7.  In this way, the i,m.a, pattern will be a smoother transition between frets.  For these arpeggio exercises, toque 1 (free stroke) is employed.

    Like 2
      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Dale Needles Pleasant memory, Dale! I have studied this way for years and the result is excellent. On the paper sheet where I write down the technique routine I usually put this shift in the formulas order, to avoid confusion and finger reps. Over the years I just forgot that it's not my idea... 😄
      In fact, sometimes I used to change the ima formula every quarter note, in a slow tempo. Is a great exercise not just for my fingers but for my brain... 😉

      Below is a sheet sample with this note. Regards!

      Like 1
    • don
    • don.2
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Thanks for sharing. It seems quite daunting. Is it possible to self learn just reading the book or need specific guidance? Or are the books just a series of principles that you can easily apply? Thanks!

    Like
    • don Hi Don, welcome to the Carlevaro group.  I agree at first glance it does seem quite daunting, but it can be learned with focused study and practice.  But, of course, it always helps to have someone who is familiar with Carlevaro's school of technique to guide you.  Carlevaro's book, "School of Guitar" contains his foundational philosophy as it pertains to the guitar, a series of key technical principles that are unique to Carlevaro (like fijacion), and practical descriptions on how to apply these technical principles.  The Cuadernos are organized in a series of exercises that will lead to the eventual mastery of these technical principles, if applied correctly.  Of course, that is where it can get rather challenging, i.e., the correct application of his ideas.  As a starting point, I would direct you to the reference links that we listed in the General Discussion section of this forum.  There, you will find a link to the two workshops that Alfredo Escande gave on Tonebase as well as a link to the Youtube video, entitled Abel Carlevaro Masterclass.  Additionally, I hope that this forum will be resource to you if you decide to delve into Carlevaro school of technique.  I know that myself along with Blaise Laflamme and Moyses Lopes are here to help.

      Like 1
      • don
      • don.2
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Dale Needles Thanks Dale! I’ve just watched both Alfredo Escande’s workshop. The ideas that he presented are brilliant, so simple and logical.  I noticed there is another course on tonebase by Gaelle Solal but is not listed on your general discussion. I’ve only just look through and seems to go through Cuadernos too. My mind is now blown but question is how do I fill it now. 😁

      Like
    • don Great posts and excellent questions! 

      Regarding Gaelle Solal Tonebase workshop, I watched it when it was first posted back in 2021, and while I greatly appreciate that she introduces Tonebase members to Carlevaro's Cuaderno No 3, and she is a wonderful guitarist, I would not say she follows Carlevaro's School of Guitar.  From my perspective she does a good job going through a portion of Cuarderno No 3 from a more traditional approach. Blaise Laflamme

      Now that you have watched Alfredo's Tonebase Workshops, I would recommend getting your hands on Carlevaro's "School of Guitar" book before you venture into the Cuadernos.  It is foundational.  

      Also, I saw that you asked about a good harmony book for guitar, I am currently going through Dusan Bogdanovic;s "Harmony for Classical Guitar."  It is very good, and he also just did a live stream on Tonebase on his book.  

      Hope this helps!

      Like 1
      • don
      • don.2
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Dale Needles Thanks Dale. Ive bought the School of Guitar book from SBM but it’s gonna take some time, but I’ve read some pages off the internet, it seems to be written by a poet. Unfortunately also seems quite hard to read. I manage to make some sense of it thanks Alfredo’s live stream.  Will delve a bit more into it once I gotten a hold of the book. 

       

      Thanks for the recommendation, will check out Dusan’s book too!

      Like 1
    • don Yes, Carlevaro was a bit of poet, but also a philosopher.  One of his favorite books is the "Zen and Art of Archery."  

      Like 2
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