Mauro Giuliani was a rockstar.
In the early 1800’s he was known across Europe as one of the best guitarists and performers around. (Sure, no flashpods or dancing girls, but still….)
He was friends with Rossini and Beethoven, and was invited to play with all the top names.
(Alas, like Mozart, he was bad with money, went bankrupt and had to leave town with his tail between his legs. But an amazing player nonetheless.)
He was as widely known and respected as any player on any instrument of the day. Total rockstar.
Allegro by Mauro Giuliani
Quick quiz: what does “allegro” mean?
I’m not telling, so if you don’t know, you’ll have to look it up.
This piece is one of the many gems he wrote for his method books that were published and distributed all over Europe. (200 years later, and we still play from them!)
Divide and Conquer
By breaking this piece up into smaller parts, we can get it up to a high level more quickly.
“Get forensic on it: Pick it apart!”
This piece is characterized by the melody in the bass. It’s exciting, and moves forward easily. To practice this one effectively, I suggest playing the bass all by itself at first.
Ingrain the contours of the dynamics (all written out in the bonus materials).
To accompany the melody, we have chords that we play as arpeggios. Learn the basic chord progression (order of chords) with your full “cowboy” chords. Be able to play the chords as if it were your favorite campfire song. (You can even practice your strumming with it if you like.)
Apart from the chords, practice the main arpeggio (fingerpicking) pattern. You can add this pattern to your technique practice, and use a practice progression, open strings, or any chord.
The main point is that you practice the pattern in a “loop” (meaning you keep it going). Don’t play the song, and don’t be looking at the sheet music for this step. Just memorize the pattern and ingrain it into your muscle memory.
You can add it all back together after you have these main “elements” mastered separately.
3. Bass and Chords
A next step would be to play just the bass along with the chord on the first beat of each measure. Focus on steady rhythm and cleanly landing the left hand chord fingerings.
4. All Together Now
“The end result is determined by the quality of the process.”
Once you have played with all these parts and combinations, you are ready to combine all the elements and play the piece. Hopefully you have gotten each of the above steps somewhat comfortable and up to speed.
It’s important to slow back down to begin this step, and make sure you are keeping everything tidy.
Why Do All This?
Of course you could just plow into the piece and play it from the beginning to start with. So why go through all this trouble?
The answer is: Quality Quality of process, Quality of practice, Quality of performance.
By investigating your music in this way, and by taking it apart and figuring out how it is put together, you become a better musician. You also get it up to a high level of performance very quickly.
Can You Spot a Phony?
Think of it this way: Can you tell if a person telling you something truly understands the subject matter? I could tell you about plate tectonics, but it wouldn’t take you long to figure out that I don’t really understand the details.
Maybe my facts are right, but I am no expert, and you know it.
It’s the same with this piece. If you understand all the elements making up the whole, you are more likely to play it so that you communicate that understanding.
Sure, there are still many technical and musical opportunities that you miss because of your current level, but still, you are at least on the right path.
Let’s hear it!
This is a piece worth playing, so I hope you take the time to practice it up.
When you do, (here’s my challenge to you) put it on Youtube and share the link below in the comments. For real! (Yes, you can!)