Carolan’s Concerto with El McMeen

El McMeen

Welcome to the Jose Bernardo’s Fretboard Mastery here at Guitarbench.com.

Jose is an award winning guitarist and playing a wide range and variety of guitars and styles.

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© Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of El McMeen ©

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Jose Bernardo’s Fretboard Mastery | #1

Jose Bernardo

Welcome to the Jose Bernardo’s Fretboard Mastery here at Guitarbench.com.

Jose is an award winning guitarist and playing a wide range and variety of guitars and styles.

This is a magazine exclusive feature- please enjoy it through our pdf viewer:

© Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of Jose Bernardo ©

Any infringement of copyright or errors is entirely unintentional- although we try very hard not to make them. Any issues should be address to: writers@guitarbench.com. We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly.

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Celtic Guitar Masterclass | Irish Sea

 

Welcome to the Celtic Guitar Masterclass here at Guitarbench.com.

We present and highly recommend viewing the pdf version of this article first as it contains the most up to date information and more photos. The HTML version can be viewed below in it’s original, unaltered form.


-HTML version below-

For this next celtic guitar masterclass I wanted to look at simple piece called the Irish Sea.  Its a simple waltz in the key of G dorian.  I think it will accessible to folks with basic fingerpicking skills, and will provide a simple primer on arranging in the Orkney tuning.

This piece has two parts, A and B, and like most celtic tunes, is played AABB, repeating each part twice.  On the recording I only played each part once.

The A part is fairly straightforward.  The melody is played in mostly first position, with a simple bass harmony implying the G minor to F chord progression.  In measure 4 I chose to harmonize the C melody note with a C chord, just for a change in flavor.  Please note in measure 16 the hammer on from the open 4th to the G note on the 5th fret.  Other than that I think it is pretty self explanatory.

The B part goes up the neck a bit, using different harmonizations to create some tension and variety.  Its nothing to difficult, still just a melody and a bass part, but will give players some insight with up the neck Orkney patterns.  Hitting that big low C in measure 22 is alot of fun.

Give the audio recording a listen, and try to make your playing legato, with smooth transitions between the melody notes.

I hope you enjoy the piece, and can apply some of the techniques to your own arrangements.  Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Irish Sea Tab

Resources:
Antons Biography
Antons website
Noone Lasses
Review
Purchasing



© Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of Anton Emery ©

Any infringement of copyright or errors is entirely unintentional- although we try very hard not to make them. Any issues should be address to: writers@guitarbench.com. We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly.

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Celtic Guitar Masterclass | O’Carolan’s Receipt


We present and highly recommend viewing the pdf version of this article first as it contains the most up to date information and more photos.
The HTML version can be viewed below in it’s original, unaltered form.


-HTML Version Below-

Welcome to the first installment of the Celtic Guitar Masterclass here at Guitarbench.com  I will be writing a series of articles looking at the various techniques and approaches used when arranging celtic music for the guitar.  I will be using a variety of pieces as examples, ranging from beginner to more advanced level.In this lesson we will look at the harp tune O’Carolan’s Receipt, and some of the techniques that go into it.

Celtic harp tunes can make great arranging material for guitar.  The melodies are generally simpler and less notey than the fast dance tunes, and their is plenty of room for creative harmony and interpretation.  Harp tunes are also usually in guitar friendly keys, so transposing is not an issue.

For this little lesson you will want to download the PDF examples, which contains TAB/Notation to everything we are talking about, as well as the entire piece
Techniques
O’Carolan’s Receipt

 

Techniques

I like to use harp tunes as a vehicle for getting folks familiar with harp style, or cross string playing.  Basically what this means is instead of playing a melody linearly across one or two strings, you play it on as many consecutive strings as possible, so the notes ring out and overlap into each other. Check out the linear vs melodic example in the PDF, i think the melodic one, with the notes starting higher up the neck on the third string, sound much warmer and prettier.

I would not neccessarily all the time on every passage, there are times when you don’t want a flowing sound.  But its a good technique to have in your bag, its just a matter of finding where the passages lie on the guitar and in whatever tuning you use.

There are a few important right hand techniques that will make these celtic tunes flow alot easier on guitar. I draw from basic classical guitar practice for most of these. I think being able to alternate Index and Middle finger in the right hand when playing scales in important.  Check out the PDF example, and try to play the G and C scales alternating index and middle finger on the right hand.

In celtic music the main emphasis is on the melody, usually with a simple bass line and perhaps a third inner voice at times.  Take a look at the PDF Melody with Simple Bassline example.  Most of the time you are going to be playing the melody and bass note with a “pinch” using some combination of the fingers and thumb.  Occasionally a bass note might be played on the off beat.  To me it is a bit simpler than other forms of solo guitar music, where we are often juggling a melody, bass line, and middle voice all at once.

I have also notated a few appreggio exercises to develop finger independence in the right hand.  These are important for both harp style and linear playing, as well as developing overall good technique you can apply to any style of fingerpicking guitar. Be sure to follow the indicated right hand fingerings, P for thumb, I for index, M for middle, and A for the ring finger.

 

O’Carolan’s Receipt

So lets take a look at the tune itself.  The full name of the tune is O’Carolan’s Receipt for Drinking, i believe. I recorded it on my recent cd, Noone Lasses. It was written by Turloch O’Carolan, the great blind irish harper.  He wrote scores of well known tunes, many of which are still played today.  Known for his love of alchohol, legend has it that he drank to much one day, and this made him sick.  So his doctor takes him off the stuff, much to his dismay.  He goes to get a second opinion, and that doctor’s advice is to have a drink to make him feel better, at which O’Carolan was overjoyed.  So he wrote this tune.

This piece is divided into two parts, A and B, and in the usual tradition you repeat each part twice, so AA BB.  Playing the piece is pretty straight forward. To me the first two measures are an ideal example of melodic playing. Check out the example of playing the first two measures linearly vs melodically.  Either one is perfectly valid, but i prefer the flow of the melodic one.  There are numerous spots throughout the A and B part where I choose to go up the neck for a melody note rather than playing it on the first string.  I really like the tone of the 3rd string on my guitar higher up the neck.

One spot that may give folks some trouble is are measures 24-26 of the B part.  It requires a bit of juggling of the bass line and melody, so follow the left fingerings accordingly. Using the indicated barre will things alot easier.

One of the things that attracted me to arranging celtic music is the huge body of material available.  You can take a tune that is hundreds of years old, and give it a new and fresh voice on guitar.  I think the real fun comes with you take techniques you have learned and apply them to your own arrangements.  So find a tune you like and try applying some of the things you learned here.

Resources:
Antons Biography
Antons website
Noone Lasses
Review
Purchasing



©2008 Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of Anton Emery ©2010.

Any infringement of copyright or errors is entirely unintentional- although we try very hard not to make them. Any issues should be address to: writers@guitarbench.com. We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly.

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Celtic Guitar Masterclass | What is Celtic Guitar?




What is Celtic Guitar?


I get asked this question alot.  I will hand someone my cd, or tell them i am a musician, and usually the next question is “what kind of music to you play”.  I usually respond, “celtic guitar” then have to follow it up with a lengthy explanation.  Obviously its a different thing than just saying jazz, blues, or rock n roll.  So i will try to explain what celtic guitar is and talk about a few examples.


To me, celtic guitar is music from the celtic countries played on the guitar.  Pretty simple.  That could be music from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Galecia, or Cape Breton. This could be a traditional tune that is hundreds of years old, or a new tune that someone wrote last week.  I think as long as it has the lilt, rhythm, and feel of the music than it is celtic.  This is not limited to instrumental music, songs would count as well.


Celtic music played on guitar is either fingerpicked or strummed/picked with a flatpick. What i do most of the time is referred to as “celtic fingerstyle guitar” in guitar circles.  All this means is that i am playing tunes in a fingerpicking style, usually playing a bass line or chordal part along with the melody. Other more famous players that fall into this genre are Tony Mcmanus, Steve Baughman, Robin Bullock, Al Petteway, Randal Bays, and the late Tony Cuffe, to name a few.  To the best of my knowledge Tony Cuffe was one of the first folks to start fingerpicking traditional celtic music, and many list him as a big influence.


Playing celtic tunes fingerstyle often requires a few different techniques to emulate the lilt and rhythm of the music that is often easier expressed on fiddle, flute, or pipes.  Alternating thumb or travis picking does not work well on the faster tunes.  Trying to play the melodies classical guitar style often results in things sounding clunky or stacatto. Various players have come up with different techniques such as the Middle Finger Thwack, playing notes on alternate strings, and banjo style frailing to more efforlessly render melodies with the picking hand. Steve Baughman’s excellent book, The Celtic Guitar Method, delves into this and other techniques.  His celtic fingerstyle guitar dvd is also a good place to learn a handful of these picking hand patterns.


The other way celtic music is played on guitar is with a flatpick.  Most player either flatpick fiddle tunes note or note, which is quite a feat, as well as use the flatpick for rhythmic backup. Artiie Mcglynn was one of the first players to demonstrate that the speedy fiddle tunes could be rendered equally as well on guitar.  Some other players that are quite amazing flatpickers are Tony Mcmanus, John Doyle, Robin Bullock, Seamus Egan, and Donal Clancy, just to name a few. Folks playing celtic tunes with a flatpick will often use rolls, triplets, strikes, and cranns to imitate the ornaments of the traditional instruments like the fiddle and flute. Its generally easier to play faster with flatpick than with your fingers, though Tony Mcmanus might beg to differ.  Hearing a good player up to speed at a session is quite a feat.


Guitar also plays a role in celtic music as a rhythmic instrument.  In a ensemble situation this is most likely the role that the guitar will fill.  To me, celtic rhythmic backup is pretty fascinating, and an art unto itself.  Its kind of the opposite from bluegrass, where the chords are fixed and the melody changes depending on the player.  In celtic music the melody is fixed and its up to the guitar player to vary the chords, voicings, and rhythm to keep things interesting.  Celtic backup players will often, (though not always) use a lighter pick, for a snappier sound, as they are generally not playing alot of bass runs. A variety of tunings are often used, from standard, to DADGAD, to CGDGCD, and beyond. Backing up celtic tunes can involve a variety of styles, from minimalist to rhythmic powerhouse.  Take Dennis Cahill, who generally plays very sparsely, often only changing one or two notes in the chord to fit the melody. On the other end of the spectrum you have someone like John Doyle, who backs the band with a strong drive, and is clearly in the forefront.  I like both styles, it just depends on the context, and more importantly, the melody player you are backing.


So there you have it, a brief summary on the world that is celtic guitar.  Check out some of the players and styles i mentioned, listen alot, and then try to incorporate some of their sounds and approaches into your own playing.


Anton Emery

Resources:
Antons Biography
Antons website
Noone Lasses
Review
Purchasing




©2008 Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of Anton Emery ©2010.

Any infringement of copyright or errors is entirely unintentional- although we try very hard not to make them. Any issues should be address to: writers@guitarbench.com. We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly.

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