These are pieces that will Capture your Imagination
The Balkan Book for Guitar Book/CD 6/14/08
Back to the Books
Back to Guitar and Lute
Back to Sheet Music
The music is presented in both music notation and guitar TAB (for people that do not read music). The music notation is clear and crisp. It contains complete clear fingerings for the guitar. These will help you to learn the tunes quickly whether you depend on the tablature or the music.
Back to Top
The CD, played by Allan Alexander, gives the musician the advantage of being able to hear how these songs can be played and will make the learning process easier. This is a high quality Digital recording (DDD). In addition to helping the player become familiar with the music, it will also be a source of listening pleasure.
Back to Top
There is a wealth of music from the British Isles. I can only touch upon the different areas in this book. In this book you will find a broad spectrum of great music that I believe you will not be able to stop playing. Here you will find music from a lute manuscript, music of the great Renaissance composers John
Dowland and Anthony Holborne, a haunting piece titled Down in Yon Forest, beautiful pieces by the great harper composer Turlough OCarolan, traditional pieces such as Deever the Dancer and Slane that have lasted because people could not stop humming them, and even a very early hypnotic hymn titled The Truth Above. The pieces are carefully fingered and you will find they lay well on the fingerboard. You will find in this collection pieces you have never seen transcribed or arranged for guitar, and many of them have variations which extend the enjoyment. Play these pieces and you will have a great time. And one more thing, never forget that if you play you will get better whether you want to or not.
In addition to having the scores from which you can play these pieces, the book also comes a CD that is intended for listening. Its true that you will learn how the pieces sound from hearing the CD and this will make them easier to learn, but I have taken a great deal of time to make this a CD that you will enjoy on its own merits.
Back to Top
Music from the British Isles
for Guitar - Contents
1. Deever the Dancer and The Widow Well Married are two pieces that fit together well. Rather than write a variation for either, I just coupled them to make a longer piece. The fingerings are very important on the first page. You can leave your second finger down on the "e" for the first line, just sneaking the first finger in to cover the "a." It's so much easier to play this way. These are both traditional Celtic pieces.
2. Carolan's Farewell to Music is such a beautiful melancholy piece. The story is that Carolan came home very weak and sick to his long time friend Mrs. McDermott. He played this tune for her on his harp for the last time. He was ill for a week and though they no doubt took good care of him, he died shortly after.
3. Kitty Magennis is another of Carolan's beautiful melodies. As with all Carolan pieces the harmonies are mine. His pieces only exist as melody lines and one can only guess at what he would have done. I certainly have no idea, so I harmonize the pieces as it pleases me.
4. Beauty in Tears sounds very much like the Welsh piece titled "The Ashgrove." I wouldn't be surprised if Carolan's tune was the basis for that classic. I have written a variation for this one. I would hope that Carolan would have liked it.
5. The Green Bushes is a traditional piece with a very attractive melody. To fill it out I have written both an introduction and variation. It lays well on the fingerboard and you shouldn't encounter too many problems playing it. Just always remember, if you play the guitar, you will get better whether you want to or not.
6. Leslie's Lilt and Down in Yon Banks are both pieces from the "Skene Mandora Manuscript" which dates back to the Renaissance. The music is from Scotland. The only thing I have done in these pieces is to add a few basses. They are very close to the original.
7. Gigue in G Minor just tickles me. It's one of the harder pieces in this collection. There are two reasons it's difficult. One is because of the key. Guitarists don't often have the opportunity to read a score with two flats in the key signature. The other reason is that it's just a bit tricky to play all those notes. Handel was born in Germany but lived in Britain and is known as a British composer.
8. I remember The Water is Wide from my youth. It's a beautiful folk song and I'm sure you will have people recognize it whether you are playing it for family or for an encore to calm the audience down. It was common in the Renaissance to take traditional songs and put them on your instrument. I have filled this one out with an introduction and variation.
9. Home Again, Market is Done - Don't you just love titles like this? "The Board Lute Book" is the source for this piece. Many Renaissance lute pieces are so much easier to play when we tune the 3rd string of the guitar down to F#. These three lute pieces I have chosen to include are no different. If you find the reading to be a problem with this tuning, try using the tablature.
10. The Countess of Pembrook's Paradise is a pavane with a very unique sound. The sound is unique to music but not its composer Anthony Holborne. Many of his lute pieces have these unusual harmonies and he was a master of composition. This piece is just one of a very large body of works that he has written.
11. John Smith's Almaine is one of my favorite pieces written by John Dowland. It's one that I actually prefer on the guitar because the instrument has a much sweeter sound than the lute. I believe all three of these pieces lend themselves to being played on the guitar.
12. Nonesuch is a very addictive piece. The original is little more than a line of music. I had the hardest time writing a variation for it and ended up writing that one not based on the chord structure, but on the feel of the tune. I also put the original melody in different keys and it will be great mental exercise reading in the different positions. If you find it difficult at first, just play the first section and the variation.
13. The Truth Above is an ancient hymn that sounds like blues to me. I love this tune and the way the triplets seem to float. I find this to be a very addictive tune.
14. Down by the Salley Gardens - Here is a nice setting of a well known Irish tune. A Salley is a willow tree. I added a variation to give the tune a little more length. It is such a sweet piece.
15. Down in Yon Forest is a very mysterious sounding piece. It makes me think of Elves and dark forests. I wrote an introduction for it and liked it so much that I used to throughout the piece. This is one my favorite guitar solos. I can't just play it once.
16. Captain Kain is another of Turlough Carolan's beautiful pieces. He had an amazing gift for interesting and haunting melodies. At first he was not a very successful harpist having started playing when he was older, and bless the person that suggested he start composing. The variation was fun to write.
17. Hornpipe One by Daniel Purcell is such a nice example of music from the English Baroque. I usually play these two pieces as a pair even though they are in different keys. The second half of this piece is a bit tricky to play. I believe the fingerings should help to make it easier.
18. Hornpipe Two by Henry Purcell is the easier of the two pieces. It's fun and accessible. I enjoy the syncopation of both of the pieces. Henry and Daniel were brothers, the latter being the younger of the two.
19. Eleanor Plunkett - When I do a variation I always try and make it better than the original piece. I'm not sure I ever actually succeed, but I am giving it everything I have. This is a lovely tune and short enough that the variation makes it work quite well.
20. The Two William Davises - When I read titles like this it really makes me wonder where the title comes from. Was there a family with two sons with the same name? The tune is pleasantly optimistic and a joy to play.
21. Squire Wood's Lamentation is really an exquisite piece. Melancholy and mournful it just touches my heart. The triplets really set off the second half of the piece. There seems to be this perfect blend of sadness and optimism which make this such an appealing piece.
22. Slane is also known as a hymn titled "Be Thou my Vision." It is named for a hill about ten miles from Tara hill in County Meath. It's a lovely tune for any occasion.
23. Suo Gan is one of the most beautiful lullabies I have ever heard. It's from Wales and it works so well on the guitar with the lovely major seven chords. The lyrics are "Sleep my baby on my bosom, warm and cosy will it prove; Round thee mother's arms are folding, in her heard a mother's love. There shall no one come to harm thee, Naught shall ever break thy rest. Sleep my darling babe in quiet, sleep on mother's gentle breast.
Back to Top