Abel Carlevaro 16 December — 17 July was a classical guitar composer and teacher born in Montevideo , Uruguay. He established a new school of instrumental technique, incorporating a fresh approach to seating and playing the guitar, based on anatomical principles. His performances in the important music centres of Europe , Latin America and the United States were met with high acclaim by the public and critics alike. Carlevaro was a devoted composer.

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Without a doubt, the very future of the artist will also be a consequence of his or her acquired experience.

How important it is, then, that those elements which are considered constructive be well-defined so as to avoid those which are negative or harmful. This history is full of virtues and defects, both of which can serve as very important guides: the virtues have laid out a sure path, one which we should follow with determination; the defects, when examined, should arrest our attention in order to discover how not to err in the same way again.

This book tries to answer the complex problems related to instru- mental technique and to the recreative process of making music. Before this unity could become a reality, however, a leaning period is required so that our knowledge might evolve into something alive and musical. How then are we to obtain the proper orientation that can guide us towards acquir- ing maximal results with minimal effort? I believe that all those students who turn to the guitar with a desire to learn are in need of a guide.

My pupils from different parts of the world many of them are already fine guitarists have helped me with their questions—questions similar to those I asked myself during my first developing stage. To them, my thanks, for with them I have learned; and faithful to the pupil in me and the teacher in me, I shall go on learning. To conclude, I must add that all the work exposed in this book is the result of a series of tutorials given to my distinguished disciple and friend, Alfredo Escande, who generously collaborated in the development and ordering of these chapters.

Further encounters in France in and , and in New York and Madrid in , led us finally to an interna- tional seminar in Montevideo where we stayed on in order to expand our knowledge of the new school. Through a regular and more intimate con- tact with the Maestro, our desire to become fully aware of what his crea- tion for the guitar world represents was fulfilled.

Putting the theoretical notions into practice by examining and testing the concepts, strengthened our conviction that this school has a firm foundation, that it is sound and true.

Both its development and our as- similation of it are supported by a dual reality, a conceptual one estab- lished on theoretical grounds, and an empirical one obtainable through daily inquiry. We feel that this thoroughly rational approach to the art of guitar playing is not only important but that it represents an indispens- able stepping stone for the guitarist of today. When Carlevaro expressed a strong desire that we personally take charge of a translation of his book into English, we embarked on the work with great enthusiasm.

After analyzing the text in detail and consulting frequently with the author, and especially after having been tutored in this method by Abel Carlevaro himself, we became convinced that we could offer the English reading guitar world a translation, faith- ful both in text and spirit. The work has not only presented us with a further opportunity to delve even more profoundly into the concepts, it has also given us a great deal of joy.

Placing and Balancing the Guitar 2. Stability 3. Points of Contact C. He and the guitar must create a stimulating and anatomical complex that not only avoids a strenuous posture but also facilitates instrumental technique. Holding and stabiliz- ing the guitar without hindering body and left arm movements must be the starting point for developing a guitaristic school.

A guitar wrongly placed, or a defective attitude in the manner of sitting, will immediately generate difficulty in the action of the fingers as well as hamper their freely evolving mechanical capacity. Besides, in due time, a variety of aching sensations may develop, particularly in the shoulder and back. If the guitar is placed in a way that obliges the right shoulder to make any unnecessary effort e.

The guitar accommodate itself to the body, not the body to the guitar, The instrument must remain still and firm and yet allow the body fo move when required by some action of the arm or the hand. In this way, movements can be executed without affecting the balance of the instrument.

Flexibility—and by no means rigidity—should be the outstanding feature ofa player's position, which can be individualized only after he or she has taken into account his or her own anatomical characteristics As a prior step to any other consideration, close attention should be paid to body position and the stability of the instrument. One should, therefore, a. How To Sit When a person sits placing both feet forward left foot resting on a stool , the effort required to maintain the body in equilibrium is taken over , completely by the back.

Now, if this forced state were suddenly to be freed from its tension the body would tilt backwards, We shall define this situation as Unstable Equilibrium, which is only attainable through the application of a constant effort. The first step to be taken so as to avoid efforts that could prove harmful is, of course, finding what shall be called Stable Equilibrium—a mechani- cal condition in which the body can stabilize itself on a supporting platform the chair and be as neutral as the pointer on a beam balance.

These two motor ele- ments provide for body balance and allow for mobility: balance, be. Since the left foot must rest on a stool in front of the chair, the right foot should be placed on the floor slightly behind the performer to create a balancing mechanism in which the backward effect of the left foot could be cancelled. There is no sense in dividing playing position according to sex.

Placing and Balancing the Guitar Only after the guitarist has found a position that is based on the concept of Stable Equilibrium is he prepared to consider how to place the instru- ment.

The guitar must accommodate itself to the human body without altering this equilibrium, and without interfering with the performer's freedom of movement. At the same time, the placing of the instrument should comply with a series of prerequisites that a good performance dictates. The criteria used in determining just how the guitar is to be placed should be of a generic and conceptual nature. They should under no condition be taken rigidly but rather as flexible and adjustable elements that are adaptable to the physical characteristics of each individual.

The performer would have to adopt a defective physical attitude incompatible with his anatomy, and one very likely to impoverish his technique and musical expression. Correct placement of the instrument would allow for the greatest freedom of movement in both low and high registers. The left arm should be totally free and able to move in order to aid the hand and the fingers in every way.

At this point, it may be mentioned that the efficiency of the fingers is always dependent on the attitude of the arm and is never an isolated event. The right shoulder should not be forced forward Fig. Logically this statement refers only to common four-legged ones and not to one-legged stools and other variants , The guitarist should sit, therefore, on the forward right corner so as not to impede the movements of the right leg and foot.

The two drawings in Fig, 3 illustrate incorrect ways of sitting. To obtain a perpendicularity of attack, the wrist need not. Stability Involuntary and unforeseen movements of the guitar will disorient the performer and detract from his attention. Thus, the instrument d remain motionless even when the body moves due to technical or musical demands. This does not mean that the guitar must never be moved: it may become necessary to adjust its position during the course of a performance, but these movements must always be voluntary—marrying, so to speak, guitarist and instrument.

Unexpected and surprising movements must at all cost be avoided. Controlled stability of the guitar is a result of body balance correct sitting posture on the one hand, and of establishing logical contact points with the instrument on the other. In order of importance these are: a the left leg, b the right leg, c the right arm, d the left hand, and e the right side of the body and never the left.

The fifth contact point ispassive or neutral, ie. Just three active points of contact, however, are necessary to maintain and control the stability of the guitar. Given the bevelled position, the curvature of the lower side of the guitar could prove somewhat awkward when trying to accommodate it to the left leg.

The problem of imbalance that may arise could be overcome by using a cushion Fig. Right Leg Only after the guitar has been placed on the left leg should the right one be brought into play. Right Arm The right arm should rest over the upper side of the guitar letting its own weight contribute to balancing the instrument see Chapter I. Still, itis imperative to remember that the natural contact with the guitar is always against the right and never against the left side of the chest.

Placing the left side of the chest against the guitar must be considered defective because it could harmfully force the right shoulder forward. One should, therefore, avoid this from the very beginning. The fifth neutral contact point is established when the guitarist himself moves forward in performing attitude, and not because the guitar is made to lean against him.

The sequence of events in placing the guitar can be summarized as follows: 1. Place the guitar over the left leg with the cushion taking into als account its bevelled position relative to the body. At the same time, separate the right leg moving it backwards so that nothing obstructs the instrument from the very beginning.

Bring the right leg well into contact with the side of the gui- tar in the manner described above. Place the necessary contact point, the right arm, by resting it over the upper side of the guitar as in Fig. Listed here are some of the more common, but by no means exclusive, situations which do not require a fixed contact point for the right arm.

Most of these displacements have their origin in and are controlled by both feet as motor elements. Each foot is then a lever which uses the ground like a platform in order to transmit a force that will directly act on the movements of the body. The body itself need not make any effort whatsoever. When left-forward movements of the body are required, the right foot comes into action. This foot, incidentally, should be quite free to move.

Contrary body motion is executed by applying slight pressure to the left foot which is stationary on a stool ; in this way the trunk can return to its original position. In addition to being harm- ful, bending the spine forward obstructs mechanical freedom.

How can these movements, in which the trunk and the guitar are sometimes separated, be performed while maintaining instrument bal- ance at all times? Were the angle formed by the right elbow to remain constant and rigid, the guitar would be dragged with the body whenever the latter moved backward.

Once the concept of governing the stability of the instrument is fully grasped i. In this way, the guitar can remain in its desired place, unaffected by the displacements discussed. It is recommended that these operations be worked upon separately until a fair amount of dexterity in the movements of the body is achieved. It is true that there may be occasions when each function acts separately; in general, however, they work as a combined system, and never should the specialized mechanism which characterizes one of them be allowed to interfere with that of the other.


Classical Guitar

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