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 MP3 downloads of all the Hands On! pieces here

  The pieces in this book were all written to train that most important skill in the technique of the guitar: free stroke (also known as tirando). Without exception, they are designed to be played with the fingers of the plucking hand allocated as follows: the a finger plays string 1, the m finger plays string 2, the i finger plays string 3 and the thumb (p) covers the basses.

Additionally, the role of the left hand in maintaining the sonority of the instrument is important. Following the advice of Fernando Sor*, the player should keep left hand fingers on the notes, until they are required to move to make a different note, even though this means prolonging notes beyond their strict written value. This applies to notes on the treble strings, not the basses, however. By simply listening to the combinations of notes produced, the player will readily notice where held notes make a good sound, and where they do not. Over-ringing basses are very rarely desirable, and where possible the player should control the duration of open basses with the right hand thumb, as well as observing the proper duration of stopped bass notes.

So the key skills developed here are those of awareness of the fingers of both hands: for the right hand, awareness of the location of the strings under the fingers in arpeggio shapes and in the action of planting, for the left hand, awareness of which fingers are being held on, and how carefully placed fingertips enable adjacent strings to resonate freely.

As well as encouraging a really full sound from the instrument, it is important to know how to contrast this with short, staccato sounds. In keeping with the right hand function in this book, this is restricted to thumb staccato for single notes, and some two note repeated chords in the fingers.

Left hand fingering has been largely restricted to drawing attention to less-obvious fingerings which will assist particular fingerboard movements. Usually this involves a higher finger number than fret number, and the intention here is also to promote the reading of the note rather than finger numbers. Numbers can however of course be pencilled in if required.

In miniature, the pieces in this book seek to systematically develop the authentic, resonant voice of the guitar. To this end, complications of rhythm, key signature, position and stretch have been minimised. At the same time they have been written to be enjoyed and I would like to thank all the students and friends who have helped in the testing and approval of this material prior to publication.


Stephen Kenyon

June 2004


* F Sor Introduction to the Study of the Guitar Op 60 1831


2nd Edition September 2004