Archive of old blog posts

The posts on this page predate the 2014 - 2016 reconfiguration of the site.

Grading the pieces 

01/06/13  Several people have asked me if I would consider grading the pieces by difficulty. For this reason (for the solo pieces anyway) I will start adopting the same D01 - D10 scale used on the Delcamp Guitar Forum* This aligns more or less with other gradings such as the 1- 8 grades of the UK Trinity College of Music though, of course, all gradings are pretty subjective and can only be a general guide. 

*which all classical guitarists should join!

Changes in 2013

01/06/13 18:06

I’m starting to do more work on the site this year after a fallow period. I have added a page of arrangements by Francis Cutting where I have adopted the practice of posting MIDI and Music XML files in addition to the PDFs. I am no longer publishing Scorch files as this increasingly looks like an abandoned format.

I am also beginning to post difficulty ratings using the same D01 - D10 scale adopted on the Delcamp Guitar Forum* This aligns more or less with other gradings such as the 1- 8 grades of the UK Trinity College of Music though, of course, all gradings are pretty subjective and can only be a general guide.

*which all classical guitarists should join!

Taking Stock

28/02/13 20:56

I’ve spent a week or two going through all the arrangements on my hard disk, sorting out what’s been posted, what’s ready to be posted and what needs more work.

I’ve made minor revisions to a number of the arrangements that have already appeared on the site and I seem to have a large number of other arrangements not yet posted - more than 100 in fact! So I need to get on with posting revisions and new pieces.

I’m also considering posting MIDI files and Music XML files as a way of allowing users of the site to hear and/or reuse the music. An increasing number of music programs make use of Music XML as an exchange format so this should be a more accessible resource. The Scorch plugin does not seem to have been updated for a long time and will not run in 64-bit browsers, so I may also do away with the Scorch files in the long run. I hope also to post MP3 files of at least some of the pieces, though I’m afraid I’m very slow to get round to recording my own playing!

These changes involve a fair bit of work and are therefore likely to appear gradually.

More to come

23/01/13 15:23

In the last two years or so I have neglected this website and posted virtually nothing. This has arisen from a combination of factors - moving house, a variety of family events that have taken up my time and the need to devote time to academic work leading towards an Open University degree.

This year I am hoping to focus the site a bit more. Family events have moved on, things are sorted out in the new home and I have finished the degree - so I can now write the letters MA after my name (in addition the the letters I already had!). Better than that, the MA is in music! One outcome of this is that I have posted on this page two academic papers I wrote as part of the degree course.

The academic work for the course included the requirement to write a 5,000 word project (which I did in 2011) and an 18,000 dissertation during 2012. I used this opportunity to research topics in 16th and 17th century English music that are of direct relevance to some of the music I have arranged (and will arrange) for this site. Both of these essays were marked very favourably by the examiners and I have therefore decided to publish them here.

The first is a 5,000 word project entitled:
John Dowland, John Danyel, Daniel Bacheler; the Issue of Attribution in Golden Age English Lute Music.

and the second is a dissertation entitled:
The English Solo Lyra Viol: A 21st Century Perspective on a 17th Century Musical Instrument.

You won’t be surprised to know that the second essay heralds more arrangements of lyra viol music and I can also report that, despite the lack of recent posts I have in fact got quite a number of new arrangements either ready or nearly ready, so please continue to watch this space….

New Web Host

27/04/12 20:55

With the imminent demise of MobileMe I’ve transferred this site to a new host. It still answers to, but it is now available at as well. I hope the music links still work; I’ve had to edit them all, so I guess some may turn out to be incorrect. If you find a link that’s not working let me know. (The ‘links’ page itself does have some outdated links - I need to go through and weed them out, but that’s a task for another time.)

I haven’t done much else to this site recently. My time has been taken up with other matters - moving house, actually playing the guitar and, not least, spending time on an Open University Postgraduate Music course that I hope to complete this year.

I do have quite a lot of new arrangements, and when I find time I will be posting them here. I’m also considering doing away with the Scorch files and posting Music XML files instead as this is becoming the de facto music exchange format. Watch this space!

Changes to come

22/06/10 23:28

I just bought an iPad and discovered it’s great for displaying music scores in pdf. I’ve set about providing iPad friendly versions of all my arrangements (with larger staff size and section breaks set to page turns). It will take a bit of time to do them all - but soon I will start posting them here!

Minor revisions to: 
Courante (Volte) (Bacheler) In G: [Scorchpdf] [] In E: [Scorchpdf] []

A new piece by Holborne

05/06/10 11:23

The Night Watch (Holborne) [Scorchpdf] [] added today. An almain that is found in both lute and bandora versions, and most often arranged from the lute version. This arrangement is derived from the bandora version.

What's New

31/05/10 17:18

The main thing today is that I have added a WHAT’S NEW page which will display my most recent arrangements and also older pieces that I have revised.

I have also added:

Allemanda (Pellegrini) [Scorchpdf] []
Balletto (Pellegrini) [Scorchpdf] []
Corrente (Pellegrini) [Scorchpdf] []

together with an alternative version of the duet Howell’s Delight (from Charlie Schultz, an American guitar player), revised versions of Polak’sSarabande (with and without fingering), and alternative versions of theDuke of Holstone’s Almayne:

Howells Delight (Anon) [Scorchpdf] []; alternative version [Scorchpdf] []
Sarabande (Polak) [Scorch[pdf]]; [Scorch[pdf fingered]  fingered]
The Duke of Holstone's Almayne (Hume) [Scorchpdf] [];
alternative version [Scorchpdf] []

Tobias Hume again

26/05/10 10:10

Another piece by Tobias Hume: My Hope is Decayed

More pieces by William Lawes

24/05/10 13:14

Two new pieces by William Lawes, a Sarabande (originally for keyboard) and Mr Lawes Flat TuneDuke of Holstone’s Almain (originally for Lyra Viol).

 (Hume) revised and updated.

Guardame Las Vacas

06/05/10 19:10

Not the familiar version by Luis Narvaez, but seven variations by Enriquez de Valderrabano.
Guardame Las Vacas (Valderrabano) [Scorchpdf] []

Lyra Viol Pieces

01/05/10 15:45

In recent months I’ve been exploring the Lyra Viol music of Tobias Hume and William Corkine, much of which transfers well to the guitar. As a result I have today added a page about the Lyra Viol and a page of solo arrangements. Two new pieces from Tobias Hume have also appeared in the trio section.

A Dream - John Dowland

11/12/09 16:26

I heard this lovely pavan played on YouTube by the lutenist Robert McKillop using a gut strung guitar with a capo at fret 3 in lute tuning. I’d had a quick look at the piece some time ago and a first draft of an arrangement was there on my hard drive, but I was so moved by RM’s playing that I had another look and decided it was worth finishing as an arrangement in conventional guitar tuning. I enjoy plaing it - I hope others will too!

Links revised

26/11/09 21:53

Today I have gone through the site tracking down dead links, thanks to a useful Firefox extension LinkChecker from Kevin Freitas ( - so with any luck they are all working now!

Reusner Passacaglia

25/11/09 20:09

Reusner Passacaglia - minor update posted.

More Duets

18/11/09 14:30

Today I have added two duets by Thomas Ford: Mr Southcote's Pavan and galliard, and a duet by the French composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, Gravement. All three pieces are originally for two viols. Seemingly the viol literature is a good source of music for guitar, especially pieces written for the so called Lyra Viol.

Tobias Hume and others

01/10/09 18:33

Today I have updated and added several pieces. In the Duets section I have added two new pieces by Tobias Hume, The Duke of Holstone’s Delight and Touch Me Sweetly, together with a piece by Thomas Mace, The Author's Mistress. I have also considerably revised The Spirit of Musicke (Tobias Hume) and Mr Lullere, His Choice (Thomas Ford) by transferring some material between the parts to improve playability and revising the durations of held notes. Several other duet pieces have had minor revisions, includingHowell’s Delight. In the solos section I have added A Humorous Pavin andThe Duke of Holstone’s Almayne, also by Tobias Hume.

New Guitar; Minor changes to the site

28/09/09 13:21

I’ve been playing a new guitar for a month or two now - the MP3 of Hume’s ‘Touch me Lighly’ I posted is played on this instrument. It’s a cedar topped, lattice strutted guitar made by Lester Backshall who is a new maker. It's only his 3rd guitar (he's made more since) and I wasn’t planning to buy another guitar, but after borrowed to try it out I so fell in love with it I just had to buy it! I think he’s a maker to watch. Les hasn’t yet got himself a website, but when he does I will post the link on this site.
You may notice minor cosmetic changes to some pages on the site. I’m beginning to make more use of RapidWeaver plug-ins; so hopefully the look of the site will continue to evolve!

Fall of the Leaf

28/04/09 13:09

Minor revision of Fall of the Leaf (Martin Peerson) posted today.

Tombeau - minor revision

22/04/09 22:32

I spotted someone playing Tombeau de M. Francois Ginter on YouTube today; this prompted me to get the piece out and play it again myself. I decided some of my notation (especially double dotting) was not very clear so I have revised the way the rhythm is expressed (using ties and single dots instead).


04/04/09 13:24

Today I’ve posted a solo guitar arrangement of Vivaldi’s Lute Concerto (RV 93) - plus a minor revision of the de Visee Chaconne (first version).

Holborne Bandora Pavan

07/03/09 22:23

A new piece today a pavan notated for bandora by Anthony Holborne.The piece seems to be a version by Holborne of a pavan by John Johnson, that father of Robert Johnson. These two were more or less contemporary; Johnson had a lengthy period in the service of Queen Elizabeth and Holborne was probably in her service for a period so the two may have known each other and each may have been familiar with the other’s music. Johnson’s work has been collected in the set of volumes ‘The Lute Works of John Johnson’ edited by John M Ward (Editions Orphée 1994) where the music is presented in lute tablature, keyboard transcription and guitar transcription. There are one or two minor notational errors in my copy of the guitar version of this piece and an apparent error in the manuscript tablature source that is corrected by Rainer aus dem Spring in his Lute Society edition of the tablature, so I decided I would like a revised guitar arrangement. Like ward, I have put the piece in A major rather than making a direct transcription into G major.
I’ve also made a couple of very minor revisions to the trio pieces, Fantasy (Lawes) and Donna Crudel (Adriensen)

Minor Revisions - Lawes, Adriensen, Wilder

13/02/09 15:52

Updated versions today of two of the trios - Donna Crudel by Adriensen and the William Lawes Fantasye. Also some slight revisions to the solo Fantasie by van Wilder.

Holborne Bandora Pavan

29/01/09 14:30

Today I’ve published a version of Militis Dump in G in addition to the arrangement in A. I think overall it’s easier to play and more satisfactory in G. 
I have also posted a revised version of Philip van Wilder’s Fantasie utilising guitar tuning rather than lute tuning. I was unhappy with the previous version, so I have deleted it. (If anyone wants the old version let me know and I can send it.)

Minor Revisions - Lawes, Adriensen, Wilder

14/01/09 21:08

Today I’ve published a version of Militis Dump in G in addition to the arrangement in A. I think overall it’s easier to play and more satisfactory in G. 
I have also posted a revised version of Philip van Wilder’s Fantasie utilising guitar tuning rather than lute tuning. I was unhappy with the previous version, so I have deleted it. (If anyone wants the old version let me know and I can send it.)

Donna Crudel revised; no more PayPal

12/01/09 23:43

Today I’ve been playing Donna Crudel with my trio partners and, as well as finding one or two mistakes, I decided to simplify the semiquaver passages (especially in part 1 which I play!). So this evening I’ve posted a revised version.
The other change today is that I’ve taken the PayPal button off the site. I realised that I had to decide whether to be a free sheet music site or a paid for sheet music site - I couldn’t really be a bit of both.
This was partly brought about because the website had agreed to post a link to this site on their links page If you haven’t seen the Delcamp site go and have a look. It’s a marvellous site, certainly the best classical guitar resource I’ve come across on the internet with a very active (and particularly well moderated) forum and a huge amount of free sheet music. The site is notable in many ways, but particularly for its ethos of respect for copyright and its determination to make a wide range of out of copyright music available free.
They didn’t insist I took the PayPal button off - but I was shamed into doing so! Actually I did think about putting a charity donation button there, but I haven’t found a simple way of doing this.

Two Dowland Pavans

06/01/09 21:36

Today I have added two pavans by John Dowland - Solus cum Sola and La Mia Barbara.

Donna Crudel

17/12/08 21:28

Revised arrangement of the trio Donna Crudel posted today. I have ‘thinned out’ the parts to make them a little easier to play by removing notes from the lute originals where all three lutes are playing the same note (especially bass notes) as this makes the texture too dense on the guitar.

L'Amant Malheureux

08/12/08 11:43

Minor changes in layout and fingering to L'Amant Malheureux posted today.

Minor Revisions

20/11/08 18:45

Today I’ve reposted Quando Claro (Anon) in the same arrangement but with revised notation to make the rhythm clearer in places and to clarify where notes should be tied rather than damped. I’ve also posted a slightly altered version of the Countess of Pembroke’s Pavan (Holborne) and made a minor revision to the Nicolaes Vallet Prelude.

Duets and Trios

18/11/08 16:29

Some new pages today. A page each of duet and trio pieces, plus a page where I will write in more detail about some of the composers. There are currently 14 duet pieces and three trio pieces on these new pages.

A minor revision and a new piece

10/11/08 12:06

A minor revision today to the Bacheler Piece Courante (Volte). And I’ve added another Dump (Doomp) from the Marsh Lute Book (Solo Music: Anonymous).

Update Complete

03/11/08 15:30

Hooray - I’ve managed to finish updating the site and transferring it to RapidWeaver. There are a number of new pieces and the site has been reorganised. The new software means that updating the site is more straightforward and I hope I will therefore be able to add to it more often than in the past. I’ve certainly got a number of further pieces on the stocks, nearly ready to post.

Reusner Prelude

26/10/08 20:59

I added a Prelude by Reusner today. Thanks to Arthur Olins for drawing my attention to this by uploading a version to the Delcamp guitar forum several weeks ago and for debating with me some aspects of the arrangement. I have to admit pinching his best idea, which was putting the piece into E minor, but retaining the dropped D tuning. This both makes the piece easier to play and allows the arrangement to stick to the original notes, without altering any chords or changing any octaves. 
By the way, if you haven’t looked at the Delcamp site have a look now. Based in France, with several different language versions, it’s the best classical guitar forum on the net. It features a collection of (free) graded pieces, numerous compositions and arrangements by members and lots of MP3s of members performances.

Major Update

23/10/08 22:12

I'm currently in the process of transferring the whole site to new software. I have been using Circus Ponies' NoteBook for the main site and iBlog for this blog. NoteBook is a tremendous program, but it is primarily a notetaking application and though very capable of generating HTML that is not its primary purpose. The blogging program iBlog is a desktop blogging application which is quite nice to use, but the developer seems very slow in updating it - it's been stuck at Version 2 Release Candidate 3 for months and I don't seem to be able to get it to accept an updated .Mac password!
So I've decided to take the plunge and transfer the whole lot (the site and the blog) to RapidWeaver (from RealMac Software). Once this is set up it will be quicker and easier to do updates - and perhaps I will even write in this blog more often!
Existing blog posts have been transferred and I will post from here on in the new software. Once the site is rewritten I hope to post more arrangments - I've got quite a few new ones I haven't managed to post yet.

John Wilson Lute Versions

17/06/08 10:55

 I've started work again on the Wilson Preludes. Today I posted revised lute versions of Preludes 1 and 2 with improved notation. I've also added to the text describing the pieces and posted a page of revisions to the original manuscript versions. I'm planning to update the lute version of Prelude 3 and to work on transcribing more of the preludes. I've also started work on 10-string guitar arrangements of the Preludes.

West Dean Classical Guitar Festival 2007

30/04/08 21:45

2007 was the 16th annual Classical Guitar Festival at West Dean, near Chichester UK, Directed by John Mills. This was the second such event I have attended and, as last year, the concerts were exceptional.
On Saturday 18th August at 8.00pm DAVID RUSSELL played:Pensamiemo Espanol by J. Broca;
His own transcription of a Bach Sonata (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourree);
Elegy and Hungarian Fantasy by J.K. Mertz; 
A 'suite' by S.L.Weiss - in fact a Prelude. Allemande, Courame Royale, Tombeau (Logy) and Allegro that were not originally together;
'Now and Ever' by Benjamin Verdery (World Premiere);
Fantasy on Themes from 'La Traviata' by Julian Arcas; 
If I remember correctly he did 3 encores: he repeated the first movement of the Ben Verdery, played a piece I couldn't identify and finished with one of his Scottish folksong arrangments. 

On Sunday 19th August John Mills and Cobie Smit gave an afternoon concert consisting of:
Partie Polonoise byTelemann (arr. Burley): Ouverture, Harlequinade, Le Ris (Laughter), Rigidon, Gigue, Combattans;
Spanish Dances 2, & 3 by Granados (arr. Burley); 
Introduction & Fandango by Boccherini (arr. Ruimy); 
Tango, Milonga & Final by Maximo Diego Pujol (which must qualify as the most played piece at West Dean this year);
Le Que Vendre by Piazzolla (arr.Delia Aussel Estrada). 

On Sunday 19th August at 8.00pm the Paraguyan guitarist Berta Rojas played:
El Ultimo Canto by Barrios (Interesting idea to start a concert with 'the last song');
Preludes No 4 & 2 by Villa-Lobos;
Three Paraguayan Pieces: Navidad by Jorge "Lobito" Martinez (arr. Rojas), Renacer by Oscar Cardozo Ocampo (arr. Sergio Assad) and Balada del Indio by Ismael Ledesma (arr. Victor Villadangos); 
'Mother' and 'Run'  by Byeoung Woo Lee;
Invierno Porteno by Astor Piazzolla (arr. Sergio Assad);
Cielo Abierto by Quique Sinesi (arr. Victor Villadangos);
and, fittingly she ended the concert with several Barrios pieces:
Waltz Op 8 No 3 and 4, Las Abejas, La Catedral and Maxixe. (I can't remember her encores).

On Monday 20th August at 8pm Xufei Yang played: 
Asturias by Albeniz ;
Grand Sonata by Paganini; 
2 Latin Pieces  arr. Morel 
Un Sueno en la Florista by Barrios 
Lute Suite in E major by Bach 
Sonata by Brouwer 
Including encores she played some extras, not all of which I can remember, but she finished with "RDLA"

The Modern Guitar Trio consists of Vincent Lindsay-Clark (who was one of the tutors on the course) Roland Chadwick (who you might describe as a larger than life Australian) and Roland Gallery (who played the role of the 'quiet one' in the trio). On Wednesday 22nd August at 8.00pm they gave a concert entirely of their own music - an enjoyable occasion which could be best described as 'relaxed' and suffused with a certain amount of hilarity. The programme was:
Sonata Melodica by Vincent Lindsay-Clark  
The Wendy House by Roland Chadwick 
Two Fusion Pieces by Roland Gallery 
Letter From LA by Roland Chadwick 
I'm sure there was an encore, if only of the jokes, but I can't remember what it was.

All the concerts were given in the same concert space - the Sussex Barn - which has a very good acoustic for guitar playing. It was a privilege to hear a consistently high standard of playing throughout and three soloists whose playing was absolutely exceptional. All had marvellous guitars and it was fascinating to hear their three different instruments in exactly the same setting. David Russell, as always played a Damman (or rather two Dammans, as the Ben Verdery piece had altered tuning and so he used a second guitar). The instrument came across as having a mellow tone with great reserves of power; Russell's concert was notable for it's dynamic range. Xufei Yang is well known for playing a Smallman and as expected this was powerful and punchy, but with the capacity for sweetness when needed (her tremolo in RDLA was wonderful). The great surprise was Berta Rojas' guitar which (aided of course by the fantastic technique of its player) was the equal of the other two but with its own very distinct character - as powerful as either of the others but less punchy and more conventionally 'guitar like' than the Smallman and with a somehow more open tone than the Damman. 

In the interval everyone was asking who the maker of her guitar was and nobody knew; so the question was asked by John Mills who announced that the maker was sitting in the audience - and it was Michael O'Leary from Dublin. I spoke to him the next day - he said he uses the Smallman bracing system but does something different in the upper bout which (if I understood him correctly) modifies the tonal response.

New pieces

30/01/08 21:44

A couple of new pieces added - L'Amant Malheureux by SL Weiss and a Chaconneby Charles Mouton. I've also started the process of upgrading the quality of the pdfs on the site. I had been using the 'Save as pdf' option in the Apple Mac print dialogue. However I've realised I can get better results by exporting pages from the Sibelius files as eps and converting these to pdf with Preview. In the case of multi page pieces, I then have to stitch the pages together using the Freeware PDFLab. It's a more complicated way of creating pdfs, but the results seem to justify it.

Anthony Pavan (again)

27/08/07 21:43

The Anthony Pavan is found in the Willoughby manuscript. I'd like to see a facsimile of the original tablature of this piece but and so far I have only seen tablature versions posted on line and a grand staff transcription by John Ward and there is a wonderful lute recording by Paul Odette on the CD 'The Royal Lewters'. I've posted a revised version today; previously I'd tried to 'tidy up' the rhythmical layout of the piece, but it didn't really work and so I have revised it in line with Professor Ward's transcription, keeping the odd barring and rhythmic indications he uses.

First post of 2007

24/07/07 21:42

I'm currently collaborating on a transcription project involving preparing music originally notated in French Flat tablature a) for the 10-string guitar and b) for the renaissance lute. I've got a 10-string guitar on loan and have been vainly striving to master this (I lose may way among the extra basses). I have also completely rewritten my set of instructions for notating lute tablature using Sibelius and posted these on the main site. Hopefully I will eventually get round to working on the John Wilson Preludes again and this should include greatly improving the presentation of my tablature versions. I recently started playing duets with another guitarist and I hope that means this year will see some duets on the site.

Semper Dowland Semper Dolens

20/02/07 21:40

I have been in correspondence about arrangements of Dowland's Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens as a result of discussion on the guitar forum I have included an extract here that illustrates my attitude to arranging (Duarte is the late John Duarte and Lewin is Michael Lewin, head of Guitar at the Royal Academy of Music):

"I notice one big difference in your 'Semper' arrangement, and that is the ending is different. Where did Poulton's ending (also followed by Duarte and Lewin) originate from? I have to say that I think the problem with Duarte's approach to implied ties and voices produces arrangements that look too cluttered. I like arrangements that are clear and easy to read. Notation does convey more information about a piece than tablature does, but no system of writing down music can substitute for the players judgement in interpreting it and anyone with musical ability can see where the lines of music are without having them drawn in.

However I am an amateur musician. I've taught myself to make arrangements as a hobby and now I am retired I spend more time on it. I learned from looking at Duarte's arrangements but also from others like Lewin and like Peter Sensier who arranged quite a lot of renaissance music and published it in the now defunct UK magazine BMG. (You may remember him as Pepe in the Latin American duo 'Dorita y Pepe'). I also looked at Anthony Holborne's bandora arrangements of lute pieces. The approach I decided on (rightly or wrongly) is that I am arranging for the guitar, not an instrument pretending to be a lute. So, though I do arrange some renaissance pieces with F# tuning and suggest a capo at 2 or 3, I also look at the possibility of putting the piece in a higher key (especially with pieces written for 7 course and above lutes) to utilize the higher positions on the fingerboard that are less available to lutenists. You're right, though, it seems common practice to use the capo for renaissance pieces. I saw David Russell play recently and he used a capo at 2 for renaissance works."

Sellinger's Round

19/02/07 21:38

Thanks to Jon Rutherford for pointing out a rhythmic mistake in Sellinger's Round. I've taken the opportunity to make several minor changes including correcting the time signature. I'd incorrectly put it into 3/4 (as opposed to 6/8). But when I looked again at the tablature (which is written in a rhythm corresponding to 3/8) I discovered the problem Jon identified arose because one section has 9 bars, rather than 8 or 16 - so it had to go into 3/8 after all.

West Dean/10-string guitar

22/09/06 21:35

I'm obviously not a natural blogger, as I think items to add but hardly ever get round to writing them.
Recently I have been lent a 1999 Amalio Burguet 10-string guitar. A lovely instrument which still gives off a rich odour from its cedar soundboard (and what looks like a composite cedar/rosewood back). Thanks to James Smith for this instrument; he has asked me to some transcriptions for it and along the way I will be trying to play the beast.  So far I'm finding my right hand thumb gets lost among all the strings - but what a lovely sound!

The other thing I did recently was attend the West Dean International Guitar Festival 2006 run by John Mills. I've been to previous courses run by John and his wife Cobie at Burton Manor in the Wirral, near Liverpool. West Dean is a much bigger course, lasting a week, with several tutors. John was tutoring and Cobie came for a couple of days. There was also Gerald Garcia who I knew as he and I were at Oxford together and he still lives there. Then there was a French guitarist Catherine Liolios, an Iranian guitarist from Jerusalem (if that makes sense) Joseph Urshlami, Andrew Gough from Manchester, the South American Maximo Diego Pujol and a local guitarist David Caswell, standing in for Karen Schaupp who couldn't get there.

It was a course where so much was going on that I found it a bit too much to take in and decided not to try and get to everything, so I basically missed out on the South American elements (Maximo DP and David C) but I did play in the guitar orchestra, led by Gerald G and I played two of my own arrangements as solos in the student concert (The Fall of the Leaf and the Mercure Saraband). There was also a small ensemble section (my group led by Catherine L) and of course individual lessons (in my case from Gerald and Catherine - both very good). The course more or less kicked off with a concert from David Russell - excellent playing - and there were evening concerts (mostly from the tutors) most days. I especially remember a wonderful rendition of Britten's Nocturnal from Catherine and an extempore version of a Villa-Lobos' 3rd prelude from Joseph. And there were master classes - one with David Russell and the rest with the tutors. Paul Fischer was there, celebrating 50 years in instrument building and another guitar maker, Earl Marsh was also on the course as a participant. (Earl is a latecomer to guitar making and is a pupil of Tony Johnson.) 

A good time was had by all (well, certainly by me anyway.)

Links/The Mercures

20/09/06 21:34

I've managed to do some updating on the main site recently. I've been through it and checked all the links, as well as adding extra links the the music index. I did this when I discovered that googling a topic on the site can bring up a page that doesn't have the sidebar. This means that unless the page had some other link on it there was no easy way to navigate to the rest of the site. 

I must look at the other versions of the Mercure saraband sometime. My version is derived from the Elizabeth Rogers Virginal Book but I've also got a lute version in a French volume of the music of the two (unrelated) Mercures and I noticed today that there is a version in the Scottish Balcarres Lute manuscript that is reproduced on the Wayne Cripps site.

Sibelius and Tablature

20/09/06 21:33

I’ve been looking again at lute tablature in Sibelius 4 with a view to improving the lute tablature versions of the John Wilson preludes. I’d like to get more of the preludes arranged for guitar and and my aim is to get lute tablature versions done too. The preludes have been published in grand staff notation (edited by Matthew Spring) and this edition has facsimiles of the original manuscript, but these are difficult to read and so it seemed a good idea to produce modern transcriptions as they are interesting pieces. As a result of my struggles with Sibelius I will rewrite the section in Guitar Loot on using Sibelius for lute tablature. 

As my arrangements are mainly in staff notation for guitar the main use I have for tablature editors is to convert tablature arrangements to staff notation or MIDI and I use both Fronimo and Django (running on Virtual PC) for this. But I do like to use Sibelius to make lute tablature arrangements as it is the program I am most familiar with, and once you know the workarounds for its problems it is fairly easy to use.

Mistress Ann Green her leaves be green

05/05/06 21:29

A marvellous piece by John Danyel posted today in a preliminary arrangement. The original spelling is along the lines of 'Mistress Ann Grene hir leaves bee grene'. It's a beautiful set of variations with some wonderful syncopated bits in it. Difficult to play convincingly on the guitar and I may need to look further at some parts of the arrangement. 

Also some slight alterations to the Countess of Pembroke's Paradise.

Lute Society music and Sarabande - Polak

01/05/06 21:30

I got a bundle of back numbers of Lute Society News recently in order to get copies of all their music supplements. I'm starting the job of going through all these and making an indexed list of all the pieces. I'll probably do the same with all the facsimiles and editions I've got some day as I've now got so much lute music that I lose track of it. My main requirement is to be aware of alternative versions of the same pieces, so that I can consider alternative solutions in my arrangments. It's quite exciting to make little 'discoveries' among the pieces - for example finding that I am right in thinking the Newman Fancye (found in a keyboard source) is indeed a lute piece and seeing other versions of the piece. 

Today I tidied up the arrangement of Sarabande by Jakub Polak (Jacobus Reis). I haven't yet found a notated source for this piece, though there must be one - I pinched it from a MIDI file and had to think a bit how to represent the music in a playable form on the guitar. At the moment it's still in the Unfinished Arrangements section.

Tom Kerstens

11/01/06 21:32

I'm obviously not the world's best blogger - I don't seem to have posted anything since February! Nor, for that matter, has the main site been updated much apart from small revisions to a few of the pieces. However, fear not there is more coming. I have been working on several new pieces and a minor rewrite of the site itself which I hope will appear before too long.

Meanwhile I heard Tom Kerstens, the Dutch guitarist active in the UK, play last week at a lovely concert in the Holywell Music Room in Oxford. Sad to say it was not very well attended. Kerstens played a mix of 19th, 20th and 21st century music using three different guitars - an early 19th century copy, a conventional Torres strutted guitar and a very interesting looking Gary Southwell guitar.

I posted the following about some of the music on the guitar forum in response to a thread about minimalist music:

Kerstens plays some minimalist music. He included a very good piece by Joby Talbot called Standing Wave that I would regard as minimalist influenced. I already had his CD 'Black Venus - New Music for Guitar (volume one)' before I went to the concert and while I was there I bought his second CD of new music 'Standing Wave' which includes the aforementioned piece. I haven't listened to it all carefully yet, but it includes pieces by Howard Skempton and Desert Steps for 2 guitars, cello and viola by Kevin Volans (which I have playing as I type this). There also some preludes by Skempton and a piece by Terry Riley (Barabas) on the first CD. I don't think either Skempton or Volans are 'mainstream' minimalist composers (if indeed there is any such person) but these works seem to me to be informed by minimalist ideas. The Skempton preludes are available in an edition from Oxford University Press, but I haven't seen any the other pieces as sheet music. [edited post]

The rest of the concert was music from Brouwer, Rodrigo, Granados, Tarrega and Rodrigo, all excellently played, some Piazzola that I thought didn't have quite enough verve and some Schubert songs arranged by Mertz that I didn't think worked particularly well. 

The Holywell Music Room is an excellent location for small concerts. It is an eighteenth century music room (one of the first in England) with a nice acoustic. I heard the pianist Joanna McGregor play there last year - she played some Piazzola and that really was good. I've also heard the lutenist Paul Odette there, June Tabor the folk singer, a cellist whose name I can't remember playing Bach suites and Trevor Pinnock on the harpsichord - all memorable events.

A busy fortnight

12/12/05 21:18

Though I've got plenty of pieces to be working on I always like following up new sources and looking back through old ones for other ideas and this is what I have been doing in the last fortnight. Finishing the Telemann fantasie arrangement led me to look through the "Treasury of Early Music" again and I identified another couple of pieces to work on: 1) a transcription for lute by Vincenzo Capirola of a vocal piece by Cara Marchetto, a Frottola, 'O mia Cieca e dura sorte' (Oh my blind and cruel fate) and 2) an orchestral Chaconne by Andre Campra (1660 - 1744) from an Opera-Ballet 'Les Fetes Venetiennes'. I've left the Capirola for later, but set about arranging the chaconne by scanning the music in and loading it into Sibelius. It took a few days to get a sensible arrangement but it's almost ready to post now.

Then on 17 Sept I went to a Lute Society meeting in London. I've only been a member for a few months and had not attended a meeting before. It was held in the Art
Workers Guild in Queen Square, Bloomsbury (opposite the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery). This a is an oddly arranged building with a facade behind which is a small hall with a skylight, decorated with numerous oil paintings and busts of the society's worthies, dominated by a large bust of William Morris. Acoustically it seems very good for quiet music, though William Carter who spoke in the morning commented that it was good for music but that it was less good for speech as consonants seemed to get lost. Carter plays the lute, the theorbo and baroque guitar (and probably other instruments as well though I don't know this. I have heard him with theorbo and guitar several times in ensembles playing baroque music at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford - I seem to remember him perhaps in London Baroque, the Academy of Ancient Music and the English Concert though I'm hard put to say which as we also get Linda Sayce and David Miller appearing there and I can't remember who has appeared in which ensemble.) His talk set the scene for a day which (I guess unusually for the Lute Society) was dominated by the guitar. His title was given as: 'Speculations on the Tuning and Technique of the Baroque Guitar, with Some Observations on the Music of Joanambrosio Dalza, Diomedes Cato, Ennemond Gaultier and Cuthbert Hely'. He commenced with lute in hand by making a number of comments about this instrument and its music before moving on to his main topic, the tuning of the baroque guitar. I made a few notes and am trying to dredge up from my memory other points I didn't note down, but this is what I remember:
1) A fantasia by Diomedes Cato in the Mertel collection that contains a passage almost identical to part of Gaultier's Tombeau de Mesangeau - a piece written nearly a century later and in a different tuning.
2) How early did the 7th course appear on the lute. Some of Bakfark's music prior to 1570 requires a 7th course. There were suggestions from the audience that there was evidence of it's appearance earlier than this.
3) Where was Lord Herbert of Cherbury when he compiled his lute book and who was Cuthbert Hely? Evidence was given that he might have been in Ludlow where there did live nearby someone with the name Cuthbert Hely.
4) The chordal structure of Dalza's music suggests that he may have played with the ring finger resting on the soundboard.
5) The meat of the talk was his dissection of the evidence for and against the G (3rd) course of the baroque guitar being tuned (at least by Sanz) in octaves (Gg). Verdict - makes sense musically, but not proven.

In the afternoon there were three recitals:
1) a group called Pantagruel - a soprano singer accompanied by two musicians, one playing lute/cittern, the other recorders, flute and a small guitar. English, Italian and Spanish renaissance (if I remember correctly) - a very lively and polished performance.
2) Taro Takeuchi, who played music on early nineteenth century six course guitars (double strung) and got one or two of the audience (eg Brian Jeffrey) to talk about the music. A neat player, but not able to get his rather quiet instruments to project.
3) William Carter again, playing Francesco Corbetta on the baroque guitar. Very interesting, quite subtle music. By this stage in the afternoon I was finding it quite difficult to concentrate - so I bought his CD (La Guitarre Royale) which is palying as I write this.

There was quite a lot of music there to buy so I bought the Lute society edition of Holborne's Lute and Bandora music. There's quite a lot of Holborne on the internet in formats that I can translate into Sibelius thus making arrangement fairly easy (as opposed to the labour of entering tablature into a program that will translate it into notation). The bandora was (usually) tuned quite like a guitar (as if the guitar had 7 strings, the 6th G and the 7th D - so that bandora music is usually playable on a guitar with dropped D tuning).

Subsequently I remembered that I had previously bought the Lute Society's edition of Cuthbert Hely and had a look through the eight extant pieces. He is one of the composers who is seen as carrying forward elements of the English 'Golden Age' tradition into the seventeenth century and his music does have resemblance to that of John Wilson (I see Matthew Spring has edited both). I picked out a short and fairly simple sarabande, scanned in the staff notation and made an arrangement which I hope to post shortly.

Today I have downloaded a Telemann fantasie for Clavicembalo (harpsichord) from the Werner Icking site There ar twelve of these and several of them sound as if they might make guitar solos. I also downloaded a few Holborne pieces, though there's also plenty of Holborne in Django format on Electric Lute Forgery . I think I will do an arrangement of Bandora Pavan No.1 (Last Will and Testament) and possible Bandora Pavan No. 3 as they are both beautiful pieces. No. 3 I will have to enter the tab, as i can't find a MIDI file. No. 1 I can scan John Duarte's arrangement. So why do I need to do an arrangement? Well, for some reason Duarte didn't tune the 6th string down to G and missed the opportunity of the lovely bass resonance of repeated Ds and one E flat.

Fantasia Belissima

22/09/05 21:16

A beautiful fantasia (entirely worthy of its name) from the Nurenburg Lute Book. Very fugal in design with repeated entries of the same melody. I bought the Helmut Monkemeyer transcription of this lute book several years ago. It's full of good stuff and I remember picking out this particular fantasia as worth learning straight away. Unfortunately the guitar transcription (into E major, reflecting the tablature key a notional G major) sounds too low in pitch and is quite difficult to play. (This particular piece also has a facsimile of the lute tablature - it's in Italian tablature - it makes me think you'd need to be a pretty good lutenist to tackle it). I remember transcribing it into Finale, then wondering what to do with it. Eventually I tried it in G and found it more playable and a much better pitch, though I found I had to move some note into a different octave - especially the ending phrase of the third entry of the melody at bar 8. Later I transferred it to Sibelius (I prefer working in Sibelius now) and today I got it out to look at again. And I thinned out one or two chords (eg taking a F# out a bar 19) to make the fingering easier. Last time I tried it I still found it difficult to finger some passages in a way that rendered them convincing. However looking at it today I found I could make it work - so I think I will post it in its present form. I might post a fingered version at some stage, but on the whole I think that anyone who can tackle a piece like this is going to be capable of working out their own fingering. 

The Anthony Pavan

10/09/05 21:15

A lovely Pavan but I have been bothered by bars 13 and 14 as they are suddenly more difficult than any of the rest of the piece - especially trying to keep the turn to time. I suddenly thought today that the obvious thing was to take the F#s out of the chords in bar 14. This means that you go from a fast turn into a much easier bar and the potential for stumbling over this passage is much reduced. It still works musically because the F# is still there elsewhere in both bars 13 and 14. 

Guitar Loot Site Revision

05/09/05 20:57

Plan changes 
The site needs a fair amount of revision. I've been working on pieces, but not much on the site itself. The following are needed:
1) Post this blog and link to it from the site.
2) Check layout of all the current pieces.
3) Post the following that are not yet on the site:
Courant (or Volt) - Bacheler
Galliard - Bacheler
Pavan - Bacheler
Sellinger's Round - Margaret Board Lute Book
Joan to the Maypole - Margaret Board Lute Book
Pavan (Countess of Pembroke's Paradise) - Anthony Holborne
French Tune - ML Lute Book
Mad Tom - ML Lute Book
Lord Souche's Maske - ML Lute Book
Fuga - Weiss. Elliot Fisk has an arrangement of this in D. I think it also works well in C, hence this arrangement.

Pieces to be worked on.

05/09/05 20:08

List of pieces that could be suitable for the web site. 
My hard disk seems to have hundreds of pieces on it in various formats. These are the pieces I think I should be working on to get them ready for the web site:
1) The John Wilson Project. I've set myself the task of arranging all 30 preludes and publishing legible versions of the tablature. This is quite a long term project. it's not clear whether all the pieces are suitable for guitar arrangement, but it should be possible to publish the tablature. I've got a facsimile of the tablature and Matthew Spring's transcription into grand staff notation. He has made corrections where he thinks there are mistakes in the tablature. However it is in the nature of these pieces that it is not always clear what is meant and what is an error - so I have the dilemma of whether to publish the tablature as written or whether to incorporate Spring's revisions. It requires more thought.
2) My Lady Carey's Dompe (possible - several versions of this, not clear whether it would make a good practicable guitar arrangement).
3) Militis Dump
4) The Sick Tune - Ive got an extended version of this I've had for many years. Unfortunately I've forgotten it's source!
5) Monsieur's Almaine (Bacheler). Already a good arrangement by Duarte in his transcription of "Variete of Lute Lessons', but (as is sometimes the case with Duarte's arrangements) I think there is scope for setting it out better.
6) La Jeune Fillette (Bacheler). Another extended piece by Bacheler. Not entirely sure that it works on the guitar.
7) Lullaby - Byrd (arr. Cutting). Should be possible to make an arrangement in A minor, though will need a fair bit of revision to make it playable. So far I have transcribed the first of 3 pages.
8) Mistress Ann Green her leaves be Grren (modernised spelling) by John Danyel. A beautiful series of variations. Not sure whether they will make a suitable guitar piece - requires more thought.
9) Dowland pieces. Not sure whether to do any Dowland. There are many Dowland arrangements for guitar already, though some pieces haven't been arranged and other arrangements are sometimes incomplete.
10) Tombeau de M. Blancrocher - Dufaut. Not sure about this. Blancrocher was a lutenist who met his death in 1652 by falling downstairs at a dinner party (apparently). This event seems to have provoked four Tombeaux (by the harpsichordists Froberger and Louis Couperin and by the lutenists Gautier and Dufaut). Michael Lorimer has arranged the Foberger and Couperin Tombeaux for guitar and they are both wonderfully expressive pieces of music (the Froberger Tombeau is a particular favourite of mine). I haven't found the Gautier Tombeau, but the Dufaut version was published by the Lute Society of America in Lute Quarterly, Sept 2004 in tablature and grand staff. It doesn't seem such a convincing piece of music. However I will make an arrangement and see whether I can play it in a way that sounds convincing. 
11) Unnamed piece (Ferrabosco). An intabulation - not easy to play.
12) Tobias Hume. I have several of his lyra viol pieces transcribed. I need to look at these and decide which ones to use.
13) Courante - Mercure D'Orleans.
14) Mertel - Ballet. I've got two, but Frederick Noad seems to have done one of them already.
15) English Hornpipe - Guillaume Morlaye
16) Pieces from Musick's recreation
17) Newman Pavan from the Mulliner Book
18) Chaconne - Nikolai
19) Several Pieces from the Osborne Tablatures.
20) Pachelbel - Fantasia.
21) Esias Reusner - Suite in G. 
22) A duet - Twenty Ways Upon the Bells, by Thomas Robinson.
23) Mall Sims - ML Lute Book 
24) Carillon de Village - Nicolaes Vallet
25) Boerinneken - Nicolaes Vallet
26) Several Ballets for 4 lutes. Not clear at present whether these are suitable for adaptation for guitar ensemble.
27) Ma Pour Bourse - Philip van Wilder

I was thinking of Doing Couperin's Barricades Mysterieuses (?The Mysterious Barricades) but Richard Yates has done an excellent, practicable arrangement of this - so no need . 

Fansye - Newman

03/09/05 21:11

The switch from Sibelius 3 to 4 seems to have mucked up the formatting of some of my pieces. This 'Fansye' (fantasy) from the Mulliner Book was one of them, so I have been through it today inverting slurs. moving note stems etc. I also use the opportunity to remove an F# from the last chord in bar 14. The bar was more difficult to finger than anything else in the piece and with the F# there it didn't seem possible to get the entry of the phrase beginning on D in the third beat of that bar to sound properly. 

The piece is one of two in the Mulliner Book by Newman (no other clue as to his identity). The Mulliner Book is a commonplace book, in that it was filled by its originator, Thomas Mulliner an organist, with keyboard transcriptions of music from a wide variety of sources - presumably music he liked or wanted to use. As such it contains arrangements of motets, anthems, part songs, consort music, plainsong fantasias, dance music etc. - an eclectic mixture! 

So what is this Fansye? It could indeed be an organ fantasy. It is constructed of interweaving related phrases. It starts off in two parts and mostly alternates between two and three parts, with a brief moment of two beats (at bar 14) where it has four parts. However the distribution of the parts and the note range in the piece strongly suggest to me that the original may have been a fantasia for six course lute. I'm not so sure about the other piece by Newman - a pavan. I've transcribed this but not yet taken a hard look at the transcription. If it is a lute piece in origin it would have needed more than six courses for anything like this arrangement to be playable and given the probable date of the Mulliner Book (1550 - 75) I'm not sure how likely that would have been.

Reusner Suite

03/09/05 21:09

Text of a message I sent to the lute list today:
I have what appears to be an incomplete guitar arrangement of a Suite in G by Esias Reusner (presumably the younger). The arrangement is by Robert Bancalari and lacks the Allemande. It also seems to me an unsatisfactory arrangement in other ways, but I don't know its source. Can anyone shed any light on this and direct me to a copy?

The courante begins like this:


(and it is not the Suite in G published in the Mel Bay, 'Treasures of the Baroque' series)

The second section of the Courante needed revision by putting the 'melody' line up an octave. The Sarabande I have simplified slightly by moving some notes an octave in bars 24, 27 and 28 and thinning out the last chord in bar 25. The Gigue required attention to make it sound better and fall better under the fingers - I moved some bass notes an octave in part 1 and changed C and F from natural to sharp in bar 18. The published version sounded quite wrong at bar 18 and it made me wish again that I had the tablature source. 


03/09/05 21:07

Looked at Kapsberger today and tidied up the notation - making sure stems were up where appropriate and taking out unnecessary rests. There was a shake at bar 15 in the MIDI transcription I used which I notated incorrectly, so I have revised this (brining it in line with other points at which shakes can be played) and I removed F#s in bars 27 and 55 to makes shakes at these points easier to play. There's a rest in bar 29 which still looks a bit confusing, but I can't think of a better option. I never realised before taking up arranging how many choices there are to make in notating music and the balance to be struck between clarity and accuracy. 

Countess of Pembroke's Paradise

01/09/05 21:03

Today I've been finishing my arrangement of the Pavan, the Countess of Pembroke's Paradise by Anthony Holborne. This needs lute tuning but is fairly easy to play and a very beautiful piece. There's a good arrangement by the late John Duarte. However he notated it in a way that tries to ensure that all the voices are continually present which produces an unnecessarily complicated layout. I've made it simpler and also removed some notes that seem to me unnecessary on the guitar - low Ds in bars 8 and 10. I left the low D in bar 4 because it needs to follow on from the preceding D#. The Duarte arrangement also has half beat gaps between the phrases in bars 16 and 18. These are implied by the tablature, but sound to me very abrupt and I have written the preceding chords so they continue to sound without a gap. The sources I used for the arrangement were the Fronimo and MIDI files of the piece posted by Sarge Gerbode at which I then compared with the Duarte arrangement. 

Pavan by Daniel Bacheler

01/09/05 21:03

I transcribed this pavan from the tablature edition published by Christopher Morongiello in the July 2005 edition of the Lute Society News. It's a beautiful and complex pavan that reminds me in style of Dowland's Sir John Langton's Pavan, though it must have been written considerably later. This piece is quite difficult to notate without getting the page very cluttered. I have added a bar at 53 in order to even up the number of bars in each strain - assuming that the scribe may have omitted a bar. I've also altered one note in bar 16 that sounded wrong. But there's still more work to de done on this. 

Plan changes 

31/08/05 21:00

Plan changes 
The site needs a fair amount of revision. I've been working on pieces, but not much on the site itself. The following are needed:
1) Post this blog and link to it from the site.
2) Check layout of all the current pieces.
3) Post the following that are not yet on the site:
Courant (or Volt) - Bacheler
Galliard - Bacheler
Pavan - Bacheler
Sellinger's Round - Margaret Board Lute Book
Joan to the Maypole - Margaret Board Lute Book
Pavan (Countess of Pembroke's Paradise) - Anthony Holborne
French Tune - ML Lute Book
Mad Tom - ML Lute Book
Lord Souche's Maske - ML Lute Book
Fuga - Weiss. Elliot Fisk has an arrangement of this in D. I think it also works well in C, hence this arrangement.

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