Week 3: Italy in 19th !🍝

Welcome to the Main Thread for the second week of the "Around the 19th Century Guitar World" challenge! 

Italy was the birthplace of many great classical guitar virtuosos, although many of them found success outside of the Italian peninsula. Paganini was arguably one of the greatest violinists of all time, but was also a very talented guitarist and performed regularly with Legnani. Regondi, technically from Switzerland, followed in the Italian style of composition and was also a gifted multi-instrumentalist.


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  • Legnani - Capriccio 27

    I'll open up the Week 3 thread with this one. It's one of his famous caprices and I find it so much fun to play. This is a first take and very unpolished, but I want to keep working on it. A score is attached, if you're interested. Here are some points of difficulty/interest:

    • Measure 7: Some tricky motion with the half-barre here.
    • Measure 14: A challenging measure. I make it a bit easier by elongating the accented high-D.
    • Measures 29-30: It sounds harder than it is to play.
    • Measures 33-36: I find these chords hard to play smoothly with the left hand. It alternates between a four-string barre and a full barre.
    • Measures 48-51: I LOVE this part! The way it creeps back into the opening theme is so fun!

    Let me know your thoughts, especially if you have any suggestions, since I want to keep working on this.

      • Derek
      • Derek
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips greetings from Ibiza Eric. Just finding time to catch up a bit with what's been happening. I'm not really familiar with Legnani but it's sounding good. Thanks for posting the score!

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    • Derek Despite being just off the coast of Spain, you’re the first person to find me over here in Italy, Derek! I hope you’re having a great time!

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    • Eric Phillips great start for the 3rd week... but I'm a bit surprised you're the first one to publish? 😂

      Like 1
    • Blaise Laflamme I know! How unusual!

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips great Eric. I was with my little Carlie today, and upon arrival back home heard this first take of yours…. What a great introduction to this Italy week

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  • Legnani - Capriccio 27 update

    This is a small step up from yesterday in execution.

    Like 5
    • Eric Phillips thanks so much for sharing this! His 36 caprices are definitely one of his most famous works, although I wasn't very familiar with 27. I love how playful this piece is! 

      Like 1
    • Hannah Murphy Yes, very playful, and fun to play!

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      • David Krupkanull
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips For the listener, the second take represents a big step forward, I would say. What for for the player may feel like small improvements can in fact mean a far more satisfactory performance.  As a teacher once told me, quoting Tolstoy, ‘art lies in the details’. I’m not sure this is quite what Tolstoy meant, but it strikes me as a useful interpretation nonetheless. My main criticism is that you play the piece a little too slowly. It doesn’t need to be much faster - I think a 15% increase in tempo would be about right. Now, it may be that you prefer it at your tempo, and if that’s the case, you should change nothing. But I suspect (having experienced this myself) that you have a sort of phobia about playing quickly. I think this is normal - as we increase tempo, we begin to lose a sense of conscious control. We become dependent upon processes that operate automatically. We lose confidence, we begin to get nervous, our hands become moist, we eventually fall apart, performance-wise. I think we all know the routine. And so we develop the habit of never leaving our comfort zone. But we need to if we want to get to the ‘next level’. For myself at least, I can only manage this with the assistance of a metronome. It’s a laborious process that involves a lot of time and discipline, something we amateurs generally lack, almost by definition. It may seem as though the goal of this approach is to get our fingers to work faster. But I think this is wrong - the goal should be to get our minds to work faster. Let me take an example from the world of sports. I believe it was the great Joe DiMaggio who was said to be able to see the spin of the ball as it came towards him. I don’t think this was a matter of acuteness of vision; I suspect it was an ability to process a great deal of information nearly instantaneously. (In hockey, Wayne Gretzky - surely the greatest playmaker ever to lace on skates - has said that when he was on the ice, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. I suspect this is the same phenomenon.) This is all speculation on my part. Like you, I’m most comfortable in ‘slow-mode’. It would be interesting to hear what some of the accomplished players here on ToneBase (and that includes a few of the ‘amateurs’) have to say about this.

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips thats a beautiful one, they all are! I think it's more than a small step up. The overall is more precise with more confidence, that makes a huge difference. I think you can make it yours in a few days by playing from memory and apply a similar approach like you did for Giuliani in your interpretation. That caprice fits very well in your hands!

      Like 1
    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks, Blaise!

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    • Eric Phillips super progress., Eric.  This is sounding so much more secure and rhythmical. In 1 day! You’re good Eric.

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      • Wainull
      • Wai_Ng
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips The 2nd version was way better, I really like the tension building up in the 2nd half, sounds really good! 👍

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  • Legnani - Capriccio 22

    Next, I'll try this beautiful piece. Many of Legnani's capricci are out of my reach, as they are just too fast. But this one is marked Adagio, so I figured I had a shot. It is still very challenging for the left hand, especially due to the key (C minor, with a section in Eb major). This is a first take after about an hour of practice, so I have lots of problems to work out still.

    Like 4
    • Eric Phillips great job with this one Eric! I love the way you are bringing out the non chord tones!

      Like 1
    • Hannah Murphy Thanks, Hannah, There are plenty of non-chord tones to bring out. I want to continue to work on this one to make it more secure. I really struggle with the section in Eb major.

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    • Eric Phillips It is sounding very good, Eric. Wow, I wish the pieces I work on could like that after an hour! It takes me days, or even weeks to get something palatable.

      Like 1
    • Jack Stewart Yes, but you stick with pieces and continue to improve them. I lack the perseverance and go chasing after the next shiny thing.

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    • Eric Phillips good job for an hour! as you have noticed slower doesn't always mean easier, Cm / Eb is not legato friendly for melody and chords 🤯. You're saying many are out of reach because of speed, for sure they can be hard at speed while sight reading (what you are very good at) but I'm more than sure you can play most of them if done from memory.

      Like 1
    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks. You're more confident than I am. Trying to play things fast has always been an exercise in frustration for me, even when it is something I have memorized. I honestly cannot even play a one octave C scale fast, let alone something like Caprice 7.

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips good job! This is sounding so nicely dramatic, just the sort of piece for you, Eric. I would love to hear your development of this one. 

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      • David Krupkanull
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips This is already sounding good, Eric. (And no complaints about tempo this time! 🙂) I concur with Blaise, by the way - I think you could manage the majority of these Caprices if you wanted to. (A couple of them are indeed reserved for the virtuoso.) Out of interest, when you say that you can’t play even a one octave scale ‘fast’, just what do you mean? After all, we’ve heard you play at moderate tempos, with no difficulty whatsoever! Could it be (to paraphrase the slogan of one of our Canadian banks) that ‘you’re faster than you think’?

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips I have faith in you!

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    • David Krupka you're right David, a few requires more skills but they mostly all can be managed and played at a «good» speed (with work for sure) without having «speed» as the only goal. With a bit of liberty and focusing on expressing something else through the music would definitely help the listener to care about something else than speed.

      Like 1
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