More About...

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The Author:
My name is Eric Crouch and I live in Oxfordshire, UK. In 2003 I swapped from working full time to working part time and this has given me more time for music. I have played the classical guitar on and off since my teens and have always been interested in Renaissance and Baroque music. I had one shot at building a lute in my 20's but subsequently decided to concentrate on the guitar. I have been making arrangements for the guitar (mostly of lute music ) for my own amusement over many years, especially since I first got a computer and discovered how to produce printed copies. At first I used a music program on the BBC B microcomputer. (Only people in UK will know what that was - it was based on an early Acorn computer). Then I discovered Apple Macs and started using ConcertWare which wasn't a bad program for guitar music, but not very flexible. Later I started using Finale, and more recently Sibelius.

I seem to have acquired several guitars over the years but I’ve recently reduced my total to 2! My first serious guitar was a Harald Petersen model B which has now returned 'home' as I sold it to Harald Petersen's grandson, Hans-Harald in 2006 (I also got a Petersen model A from a second hand music shop in Bradford on 2001, but that later went to my daughter). I’ve got a wonderful Paul Fischer guitar he built for me in 1995. It’s a very resonant and responsive guitar with a strong, penetrating and sustained tone (derived from its lattice strutting). In 2000 I got a conventionally strutted Robert Welford guitar with a sweeter tone but also very resonant, but this got sold in 2010 (in preparation for moving to a smaller place) and in 2009 I treated myself to another lattice strutted guitar made by Lester Backshall who is a new maker. It was only his 3rd guitar (he's made a good many more since - check him out if you’re in the UK and looking for a new guitar) and I wasn’t planning to buy another instrument, but after borrowing it to try it out I so fell in love with it I just had to buy it! The Fischer is a spruce topped guitar and the Backshall cedar topped, so I now have one of each. I did also have an electric guitar, a Westone solid body guitar acquired in 1998 (not the original Japanese Westone, but the more recent English variety) and a Takamine CP 132-S with a built in transducer and electronics for amplification, but the electric guitar went to my son-in-law and the Takamine went the eBay route!

Site History:

Dec 2003 - first version of the site, written with Circus Ponies’ NoteBook.

Dec 2004 - major rewrite extra pieces added. 

2005 - more pieces added, plus GuitarLoot Blog

2006 - minor redesigns, errors corrected, improvements to existing pieces, more arrangements. 

2007 - some new pieces added.

2008 - major redesign; site ported to RapidWeaver.

2012 - moved to new web host; new URL http://www.guitarloot.org.uk

2014 - 16 - site rewritten using Sandvox.


Site Philosophy:
Making arrangements of this music for guitar is somewhat against the prevailing fashion, especially as there are increasing numbers of lute players well able to perform the repertoire as it might have originally been performed. Also a lot of lute music is written in a way that is idiomatic for the instrument and may not be translatable to the guitar (for example some of the French Baroque repertoire). But it is all music and somewhere there may be a musician who can do something creative with it on a different instrument. I learned something about this when I heard Joanna McGregor play John Dowland's 'Forlorn Hope Fancy' on the piano, something I found a very moving experience. What is more this was at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival! Though what she played was a selection of ancient and modern music (pretty much the selection that appears on her CD 'Play') it suggests that in some way she made Dowland's piece into contemporary music, though her stylistic approach was certainly historically informed. I think lot of guitar players might like to try this music out and I have a suspicion that musicians of the time were not always too choosy about how their music was played - after all Anthony Holborne made arrangements of other people's lute music for the bandora. Perhaps he would have used the modern guitar if it had been available!

This raises the question of how the music should be played on the guitar - should the player try and make it sound like a lute? As an amateur musician* I certainly can't give a definitive answer to this. But that won't stop me giving my opinion which is that the music is there do with what you will, there is no right or wrong about it, but the average player (like me) is likely to get more out of it by trying to understand how it was originally played. Music of this period was mostly performed by the composer; popular pieces were copied by others and doubtless played in their own way. Modern lutenists will try and recreate the type of performance that the music would have been given in its time. This approach to performance used to be called 'authentic', but is now more usually referred to 'historically informed'. The guitarist can become historically informed by listening to a lutenist and considering how (s)he makes sense of the music, either the piece in question or a similar piece, before approaching a piece on the guitar.

The Holborne example cited above (plus other examples found in 16th - 18th century sources of instrumental music) led me to realise that musicians of the period would fairly freely rearrange music for their particular instrument to suit its characteristics, in particular altering the voicing of chords and moving phrases up or down an octave, but sometimes rephrasing, altering the harmony and adding their own ‘divisions’. In my arrangements I have generally confined my alterations to revoicing chords and changing octaves (and occasionally removing decorations that sound less well on the guitar). This is sometimes to take account of tuning differences (both the third course tuning of the renaissance lute and the radically different tuning of the baroque lute) but also because of the differences in character between lute and guitar - some lute chords sound better ‘thinned out’ on the guitar and the octave stringing of lute bass courses means that chord revoicing by putting more of the chord on the treble strings often gives a better effect. Increasingly I have kept records of the the alterations made to the original versions in compiling my arrangements and where where these are available I have posted details on the Alterations page.

That being said I hope my arrangements show fidelity to the original and also make sense for the modern classical guitar. I guess some lutenists do not like to hear the music played in this way, but I enjoy it and I hope others may do too!

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*I lost some of my amateur status in December 2012 by gaining an MA degree in music from the Open University.

 ©2003-2016 Eric Crouch: you can use anything you find here, but please mention this site if you do.      [Contact Me]