WEEK 1: Exploring Carcassi's Etudes
Welcome to the Main Thread for the first week of the composition challenge! This is the place to post updates for the first week.
- Make sure you've read the guidelines before replying (<- click)
- Watch the kickoff livestream for help with the first section!
- Get the Scores here! (<- click)
If you want to describe your process (optional), feel free to use the following template.
- Things you found easy:
- Things you found difficult:
- (Optional): a video of you performing it!
- (Optional:) questions
↓ Reply below with your updates and questions! ↓
When I found out about this challenge, I simply did not want to wait to get started, so I've been working on Study 14 for three days now. I chose this study because I really want to improve my right hand damping, especially of open-string bass notes. By my count, there are 21 times that open bass strings need to be muted in this piece (see the score below). I find this basic technique to be quite challenging. When I focus on damping the basses, I tend to mess up all the other notes. It always feels like I am trying to pat my head, rub my belly, and recite poetry all at the same time.
I have posted two videos here:
Video 1: This is an initial run-through of the piece, after I had made some choices about fingering. It's very slow, and with only a few exceptions I am not damping the bass notes.
Video 2: (Sorry the lighting is so poor) This is after three days of practice. I practiced it in three sections, one section per day. In the video, I am trying to dampen all the appropriate bass notes, but I did miss a few. The tempo is a bit higher. I also changed a few fingerings for this one. Regrettably, I decided to play the bass runs (like in measure 10, for example) with all thumb. I know this is not the most efficient, but it's easier on my hand and brain right now. I decided that I wanted to focus more on damping than on these bass runs. If I continue to progress, I will probably want to go back to playing those runs with alternating fingers.
Nice work, Eric. Big improvement from day one to three, as one would expect. I don't see (or hear!) anything 'regrettable' in your choosing to use the r.h. thumb for the bass string passages. Actually, I'm pretty sure this is what Carcassi intended, even if modern approaches are a little different. It's certainly what I would do. (Not much of an endorsement, I admit ...) I'm curious to know what your bracketed annotations (P4/5/6) indicate. Is this for 'preparation' of the thumb? Can I ask also about the last three measures, which you seem to play in 'double time'. Musically, this sounds quite convincing, but it is not how I understand the score.
Hi Eric. I've just had a look at Carcassi's 'Methode Complete, Op.59' and he does state explicitly that the three bass strings are to be plucked with the thumb. (Page 10 of the Schott edition, under the heading 'Main droite'.) This is also apparent in the musical examples, where the thumb is indicated with a '+' sign. Thanks for explaining your annotation - it makes good sense, although I must say that I don't pay much attention to this sort of detail myself. I tend to mute strings only when my ear is 'offended' by a harmonic clash. I guess my approach isn't very systematic, but I'm lazy ... Also, I generally play with pretty dead strings (I change them perhaps twice a year) so they mute themselves soon enough! About the ending, what seems curious is that the way you played it sounds about right for a cadence. But that would suggest that the eighth notes needed to be moving a lot faster, even though your choice of tempo doesn't seem unreasonable. I wonder what Carcassi had in mind. Is it possible he (or perhaps the editor) mis-notated his intention?
I watched the new video lesson on this etude by Tengyue Zhang, and I loved it so much that I just had to give it a go. I've played it before many moons ago, but the lesson made me want to really work on it and make it fresh and new.
In the lesson, Tengyue suggested playing it very slowly for an entire week, so that is just what I will be doing. The tempo in the video is VERY slow (if you don't listen to the whole thing, that's fine ). I also decided to use the right hand pattern p-i-m-a-m-a-m-a in order to work on my m-a independence.
What was easy: It's so beautiful and expressive that it is a joy to practice.
What was difficult: Getting consistency of tone between the m and a fingers. It was also challenging to keep the tempo so slow (I did not want to use a metronome).