Discussion:
figured-bass and the guitar
(too old to reply)
Rob MacKillop
2004-01-26 10:54:20 UTC
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Any recommendations
for books specific on voicings relevant to guitar? I have a gig where
this will become ultra important... I play some jazz, and do kinow how to
read the notation for figured bass, it's just a slow painful process to
get fluent with it.
I am not aware of any current publication regarding figured-bass for
guitarists. There are some old John Gavall books, long out of print,
but they are not really worth the effort hunting down. The best book
which could be used by guitarists is Nigel North's 'Continuo Playing
on Lute, Archlute and Theorbo' which might be available (see Google).
It has a lot of background info and theory. I contemplated writing a
practical workbook on the subject, but doubt if any publisher would
take it on. I am keen to develop decoration and improvisation in the
early classical guitar repertoire, and am encouraged to read in Sor's
Method that he could read figured bass.

Is there interest for a figured-bass tutor for guitarists? Once
learned there are about 5,000 songs from the Baroque period, not to
mention ensemble music, and it helps enormously with the classical
period.

One thing I did learn in my ten years (on and off) of playing lute
continuo, is that there is an academically correct way of playing AND
a players way - not always the same thing. A basic knowledge, though,
could cut your learning time for, e.g. a Bach Allemande to half the
time. Structure and chordal movement is hugely important, and a
knowledge of FB really helps you hone-in on it much quicker.
Architecture in music is the shape of emotions and ideas, after all.

Rob MacKillop
Larry Deack
2004-01-26 15:36:12 UTC
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"Rob MacKillop"
Post by Rob MacKillop
Is there interest for a figured-bass tutor for guitarists?
Yes. I'd love to see you get it published. I'll buy one copy :-)

I've always thought this would be fun to do on guitar and I like the idea
of being able to play with others that way. Are you doing this for 6 string
guitar? Seems like more strings would be nice for this kind of work.

BTW, glad you found RMCG.
Terlizzi
2004-01-26 16:53:38 UTC
Permalink
I have been teaching a course at the Manhattan School of Music for the past 15
years called "Fretboard Harmony". For the course, I use the fretboard harmony
concepts in the Sor method and then I use several texts: the Nigel North's
continuo book, the guitar harmony book by fred harz,. Most importantly, I
searched the keyboard harmony books by Robert Morris and the thourough bass
method of Herman Keller and many others for exercises that are playable and
approriate for guitar. Also, I make up lots of things for each individual
student according to their strength and weakness. After that, many works of
Corelli are perfectly suited to the guitar. For counterpoint the Bogdanovich
book is great. i also like to make up and suggest lots of other things ,too,
e.g.scales and arpeggios in contrary motion with the gradual addition of more
complex figurations and combined scale/arpeggio forms.
In fact, I've had many students get to the level where they can sight read the
figures of corelli trio better than a pianist!

after material like that that, we do pieces "in the style of".

I, too, have thought of writing a fretboard harmony book. In fact, it wouldn't
be all that difficult because I have a 2 year course of tested material at
hand. On the other hand, it works as a college course because I know the level
of student and what they are learning in theory class.Therefore. I know what
kind of things to refer to. To cover all the bases and define terminology etc.
in a book would be a huge task and probably wouldn't be worth the time
invested.

mark delpriora
Post by Larry Deack
I've always thought this would be fun to do on guitar and I like the idea
of being able to play with others that way. Are you doing this for 6 string
guitar? Seems like more strings would be nice for this kind of work.
BTW, glad you found RMCG.
Matanya Ophee
2004-01-26 17:21:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Terlizzi
I have been teaching a course at the Manhattan School of Music for the past 15
years called "Fretboard Harmony".
I think one should be careful to consider "fretboard harmony" somewhat
differently than continuo realization. Richard Pick's School of Guitar
is perhaps the most thorough fretboard harmony book written
specifically for the classical guitar. It is based to a large extent
on the concepts developed by George Van Epps for the jazz guitar. When
I worked with him on this material, he pointed out that knowledge of
the fingerboard harmonically is an important aspect to sight reading.
As for realizations, he specifically pointed out the fact that jazz
chord symbols are realized _below_ the melody line, and that is the
logic of all the fake books. Basso continuo is the realization of a
bass line where the melody is given to someone else.

Of course it helps if one knows the fingerboard thoroughly and can
finger automatically whatever chord is required in whatever inversion
is specified, and improvise on the realization to make it interesting.
It's a skill that can be very well remunerative to the one who
possesses it.

A good method in English which will complement the Pick School of
Guitar with exercises in realization of _both_ jazz chord symbols and
continuo figurations, would be indeed a useful tool to have.



Matanya Ophee
Editions Orphe'e, Inc.,
1240 Clubview Blvd. N.
Columbus, OH 43235-1226
614-846-9517
fax: 614-846-9794
http://www.orphee.com
http://www.orphee.com/rmcg/album-rmcg/album.html
http://www.savageclassical.com/rmcg/album-rmcg/album.html
thomas
2004-01-28 22:45:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matanya Ophee
I think one should be careful to consider "fretboard harmony" somewhat
differently than continuo realization. Richard Pick's School of Guitar
is perhaps the most thorough fretboard harmony book written
specifically for the classical guitar. It is based to a large extent
on the concepts developed by George Van Epps for the jazz guitar. When
I worked with him on this material, he pointed out that knowledge of
the fingerboard harmonically is an important aspect to sight reading.
As for realizations, he specifically pointed out the fact that jazz
chord symbols are realized _below_ the melody line, and that is the
logic of all the fake books.
This is utter nonsense, whichever way you parse it. If Pick
really said this, then clearly he didn't know squat about the
practice of jazz harmony.

Jazz chord symbols are printed above the staff. The chord symbol
is derived from the entire harmony of everything going on in the
measure. The bass is generally more important than the melody line
in determining the chord symbol. I could show you many jazz and
standard tunes in which the chord symbol directly conflicts with
the melody line--like nearly every time you see a blue note.

Too bad you have me kill-filed. You might have learned something.
Matanya Ophee
2004-01-29 20:52:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by thomas
Post by Matanya Ophee
I think one should be careful to consider "fretboard harmony" somewhat
differently than continuo realization. Richard Pick's School of Guitar
is perhaps the most thorough fretboard harmony book written
specifically for the classical guitar. It is based to a large extent
on the concepts developed by George Van Epps for the jazz guitar. When
I worked with him on this material, he pointed out that knowledge of
the fingerboard harmonically is an important aspect to sight reading.
As for realizations, he specifically pointed out the fact that jazz
chord symbols are realized _below_ the melody line, and that is the
logic of all the fake books.
This is utter nonsense, whichever way you parse it. If Pick
really said this, then clearly he didn't know squat about the
practice of jazz harmony.
Jazz chord symbols are printed above the staff. The chord symbol
is derived from the entire harmony of everything going on in the
measure.
In a fake book, which was the material I worked with Pick on, there is
nothing going in the measure except the melody line and the chord
symbol. So what's your problem?

As for Pick's knowledge of the subject, it's too bad I cannot ask him
now. He's been dead for a couple years now. But his knowledge is
encapsulated in his School of Guitar, a document you may examine it at
your leasure, if you can find a copy to xerox someplace. If you have
any specific objections to the information printed in that book, I am
sure it will be an interesting subject for discussion.
Post by thomas
The bass is generally more important than the melody line
in determining the chord symbol.
That may be so, but what do you do when, as in a fake book, there is
NO bass line and the only harmony is the one indicated by the chord
symbol?

We are not talking on how these symbols are _derived_, but on how they
are to be _interprted_ and most importantly, how this system of
interpretation differs from the interpretations of figured bass
symbols.
Post by thomas
I could show you many jazz and
standard tunes in which the chord symbol directly conflicts with
the melody line--like nearly every time you see a blue note.
Too bad you have me kill-filed. You might have learned something.
I am simply restricting your access to my InBox. Helps me to relieve
the tedium of reading your garbage on the fly. As for learning
something from you, I am always willing to learn, but frankly, I have
no interest in learning about jazz anymore than I already know, and if
anything, I would be interested in learning something new about the
subjkect we are talking about here, and not about something else that
you think, erroneously, that it some how belongs in this discussion.

MO.
Robert Crim
2004-01-29 21:49:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matanya Ophee
That may be so, but what do you do when, as in a fake book, there is
NO bass line and the only harmony is the one indicated by the chord
symbol?
In most fake books I've used, the chords last from one to the next or
until a rest is indicated.
Post by Matanya Ophee
We are not talking on how these symbols are _derived_, but on how they
are to be _interprted_ and most importantly, how this system of
interpretation differs from the interpretations of figured bass
symbols.
In continuo practice you may not even be given the melody line at all.
You often just get the bass line with the figures above the bass line.
A really well trained and "on top of his game" continuo player won't
even need the figures.

Thorough bass symbols represent (at a minimum) the intervals of the
notes to be played *above* the bass note. The symbols (figures) are
a shorthand way for the composer to give the player the harmonic
realization of the bass line. That's why they call it "figured" bass.

Hope this is what you were after.

Robert
Matanya Ophee
2004-01-29 22:00:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert Crim
Post by Matanya Ophee
That may be so, but what do you do when, as in a fake book, there is
NO bass line and the only harmony is the one indicated by the chord
symbol?
In most fake books I've used, the chords last from one to the next or
until a rest is indicated.
Indeed. But have you ever seen a fake book in which the chord symbols
are given above a bass line? or above a full harmony?

Of course I have seen the latter type in many compositions. I have
even published some such, like in Richard Pick's Christmas carols
books, the bossa nova movement in Jan Freidlin's Sonata of the
Wandering for guitar and cello, and some others. How a _composer_, or
arranger, derives the harmony from the context of the music and
encapsulates it in a chord symbols is an interesting subject, but not
the one we are talking about at this point. We are talking about
_realization_ of a symbol into a meaningful accompaniment.
Post by Robert Crim
Post by Matanya Ophee
We are not talking on how these symbols are _derived_, but on how they
are to be _interprted_ and most importantly, how this system of
interpretation differs from the interpretations of figured bass
symbols.
In continuo practice you may not even be given the melody line at all.
You often just get the bass line with the figures above the bass line.
A really well trained and "on top of his game" continuo player won't
even need the figures.
Thorough bass symbols represent (at a minimum) the intervals of the
notes to be played *above* the bass note. The symbols (figures) are
a shorthand way for the composer to give the player the harmonic
realization of the bass line. That's why they call it "figured" bass.
Hope this is what you were after.
Of course. This is another example of thomas (and/or any number of
rmcg hornets) arguing with me about something I did not say.


Matanya Ophee
Editions Orphe'e, Inc.,
1240 Clubview Blvd. N.
Columbus, OH 43235-1226
614-846-9517
fax: 614-846-9794
http://www.orphee.com
http://www.orphee.com/rmcg/album-rmcg/album.html
http://www.savageclassical.com/rmcg/album-rmcg/album.html
Robert Crim
2004-01-30 00:59:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matanya Ophee
Post by Robert Crim
Post by Matanya Ophee
That may be so, but what do you do when, as in a fake book, there is
NO bass line and the only harmony is the one indicated by the chord
symbol?
In most fake books I've used, the chords last from one to the next or
until a rest is indicated.
Indeed. But have you ever seen a fake book in which the chord symbols
are given above a bass line? or above a full harmony?
My answer to the first is no, not without the melody line given also.
To the second, above a simple bass line, not often. Above a full
harmony (piano) yes many times......often with the chord given as a
diagram with spots and a fingerboard grid. Maybe they didn't think
guitar players could read the notes?
Post by Matanya Ophee
Of course I have seen the latter type in many compositions. I have
even published some such, like in Richard Pick's Christmas carols
books, the bossa nova movement in Jan Freidlin's Sonata of the
Wandering for guitar and cello, and some others.
Those are guitar composer/arrangers, doing the work for a guitar
playing audience, I suspect, but don't know.
Post by Matanya Ophee
How a _composer_, or
arranger, derives the harmony from the context of the music and
encapsulates it in a chord symbols is an interesting subject, but not
the one we are talking about at this point. We are talking about
_realization_ of a symbol into a meaningful accompaniment.
I see a real difference between realizing the symbol for the chord and
harmonizing the melody line. You build the harmony from the melody,
(Pick was very talented at doing that) and then you write down the
chord symbols based the harmonization.

A skillful composer type does the harmonization and writes down the
chord symbols. A skillful player plays those chords.

Am I missing something here?
Post by Matanya Ophee
Post by Robert Crim
Post by Matanya Ophee
We are not talking on how these symbols are _derived_, but on how they
are to be _interprted_ and most importantly, how this system of
interpretation differs from the interpretations of figured bass
symbols.
How the figured bass "figures" are interpreted is pretty easy. You
just play them as written according to the practices of the composer
and the times. They are merely shorthand for a full realization.
Most folks only see modern editions where that work has already been
done.

How the harmonization is done, is a question for guys like Angelo.
That's way over my pay grade.
Post by Matanya Ophee
Post by Robert Crim
Hope this is what you were after.
Of course. This is another example of thomas (and/or any number of
rmcg hornets) arguing with me about something I did not say.
I kind of think your pesky buzz flies need to brush up on their
basics.

Robert
thomas
2004-01-30 03:40:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matanya Ophee
Post by thomas
Post by Matanya Ophee
As for realizations, he specifically pointed out the fact that jazz
chord symbols are realized _below_ the melody line, and that is the
logic of all the fake books.
Jazz chord symbols are printed above the staff. The chord symbol
is derived from the entire harmony of everything going on in the
measure.
In a fake book, which was the material I worked with Pick on, there is
nothing going in the measure except the melody line and the chord
symbol. So what's your problem?
Let me restate this--in jazz fakebooks, the chord symbol supercedes
the melody. It is far more important. In many jazz compositions,
the melody is derived from the harmony. The chord symbol is always
printed above the melody line.

There is no way to substantiate your statement that "jazz
chord symbols are realized _below_ the melody line." There
are a number of ways to parse this claim, but none of them
make sense.
Post by Matanya Ophee