Harry George Pellegrin
The Guitar Technique
and Exercise Page
October 28, 2010
Belly up to the Barré
The issue: Students often -- like always -- have difficulty cleanly grabbing a grand barré chord. The main problem is that they will invariably wind up with an essential string running through one of the creases in the finger -- you know, the flip side of a knuckle. This can be rectified by having the student LOOK when he or she hears a buzz or 'flubby' note. Then he or she merely adjusts the first finger so that the strings are depressed by a flat area of the finger rather than a crevasse. Once the barré has been sorted, then the issue becomes one of strength (or the correct application thereof. Remember, guitar playing isn't ALL strength, it is both applying pressure in the correct manner as well as with the correct part of the finger.) So the student has the barré executed correctly but now has to move a finger to perform a melody note or resolve a suspension or add a seventh or.... You get the idea. With the addition of another note or notes the barré once again becomes problematic.
What to do: Well, there is no perfect cure for barring aside from practice--and practicing an exercise that addresses the issue. A while back I had a student who had just such an issue and the usual fixes (pieces I assign to address this issue) were just not working. I suspected that it was a case of his just not particularly 'liking' the pieces I assigned. So, I wrote this short waltz to placate the student and to promote barré chording with quite a bit of finger action!
Below is the 'B' section of the piece where the real meat and potatoes of the exercise lies. Please see a full version pdf at my main exercise page or buy all four waltzes at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/suite-for-guitar/11914786 . This and other pieces are also found in the hallowed pages of the second edition of my Classic Guitar Method as well.
As always, either expand your browser view or download. I know, the image looks bad, but it is hi-def!
The NEW REVISED SECOND EDITION of Low End is now available for purchase. This new edition includes scenes and colloquialisms removed from the first edition. This baby reads like Da Bronx, man! So even if you've read the book before, you haven't read it this way. New, lower price as well. Get LOW END on www.lulu.com now....
The Store A neat collection of guitar-related items.
AVAILABLE NOW !
The Classic Guitar Method: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
With the aid of a good teacher, the student will rapidly progress through The Classic Guitar Method attaining technical proficiency and musical eloquence.
This method stems from the need to incorporate a number of schools into a single cohesive curriculum. Years of honing a logical approach to the guitar and the creation of music culminate in this volume. As a self-proclaimed Disciple of Valdés-Blain , much of that famed teacher's focus can be found in Mr. Pellegrin's method.
Why do we need another CLASSICAL GUITAR METHOD?
During the course of teaching guitar over the past twenty six years, I have often noted that no single method book contains all the information I wish my students to have readily available to them on a continuous basis. It has not been uncommon for me to assign as many as three methods to a new student—all good, by the way, but not one of them being all inclusive. This is not an unusual circumstance, and one I should have anticipated in my teaching experience as I distinctly remember Albert Valdés-Blain (10 April 1921—30 January 2002) assigning me a mind-numbing ten books at my first lesson, seven of them methods or collections of studies.
I consider myself a disciple of Valdés-Blain. I met him in 1974, though, of course, I had heard of him by reputation. An excellent musician and teacher, Lawrence Silvestro—who had brought me along to that point at which I was ready to undertake a study of the classical guitar at the college level—had admonished me when he'd heard with whom I would be studying. With much the same advice as Mary had given the servants at the marriage feast at Cana , Mr. Silvestro told me "Whatever he tells you to do, just do it!" So I did.
When I decided that the time was right for me to create a new method—one that would include all the necessary technical and musical disciplines to lead the serious student from neophyte hobbyist to burgeoning recitalist—I resisted the urge to call the Method something like ‘Maestro Valdés-Blain's School of Guitar' as this would imply that my method would accurately reflect his system of instruction and musical nurturing. While I do follow his precepts fairly consistently and faithfully, my method reflects his impartation to me and me alone. I did not intimately observe his method with other students but what I did witness leads me to presume that he tailored his approach to each individual, within logical constraints, no doubt. No less importantly, I had also modified my teaching methods to my own personality and style of instruction over the years. In short, this method echoes the classical approach of a well-known and much-loved pedagogue and student of Segovia , but is filtered through and expanded by a respectful devotee.
Is my method all-inclusive? In light of what I wrote previously, possibly not. It should be very close though! No method will be absolutely all-encompassing for every student. A good instructor will direct the student to studies and pieces that focus in on the student's particular weak areas. Aside from this, there is the legal ramification that any composition penned in the Twentieth Century is, of course, protected by copyright and while I can not include any such item here for this reason, I do direct the student to exemplary editions of milestone modern music. All the performance pieces and many of the studies are public domain. In the case of studies by Fernando Sor, Ferdinando Carulli, Mauro Giuliani, Napoleon Coste and the other classic masters, I have included my editions of some of their works. I then direct the student to complete editions from which these gems are drawn. The student can then choose to acquire these for further study. [Photo to left: Albert Valdés-Blain circa 1965.]
What my method does is expose the student to the technical disciplines required to effectively perform on the instrument and give enough basic recital repertoire that when the method is completed, the guitarist will be able to perform a recital of approximately forty-five minutes in length. I have included many tips and explanations that should shed light on the correct process of attempting to solve problems. Teach a student a solution and he has one problem solved. Teach a student to be a problem-solver and he or she is on the road to mastering the instrument.
Included in this book are sections on the correct interpretation of lute tablature in its varieties. Why? The lute enjoys one of the largest repertoires of any instrument ancient or modern. Much of this lute music remains untranscribed for the guitar, its modern descendant. The guitarist will want to mine this wealth of material for fresh program pieces.
Many students have asked me to recount the development of the guitar as the instrument we know today. So few people know exactly what a classical guitar even is: “Children's guitars have nylon strings while real guitars have steel strings.” Little do those who make this ridiculously false statement realize that some of the priciest, most desired instruments on the planet are nylon-strung classical guitars, so this book includes a section on history as well as instrument care.
Music is hard work. Mastering an instrument is an endeavor that requires more years than a lifetime can possibly ever contain. With that said, many will then ask ‘why bother?' It's a fair question and if you ask it, maybe playing an instrument is more a hobby for you and less a vocation. For those who begin their journey by considering it a vocation, it becomes an obsession; a passionate one that can never be fully satisfied. If you are fervent about playing the classical guitar—and playing it well—then this book, my method, may be the one book you need to make it all happen. Practice is crucial, critical listening is, well, critical. An awareness of musicality is more than vital—music is what it is all about and unless the performer can impart an emotion to humanity-at-large, then why bother?
Indeed, it can be stated that music is the most spiritual of all the arts. It is more fleeting than sand painting as once the sound has been produced, it is over and gone except for the image it leaves on the human heart. Recordings are wonderful, but they can never hope to capture the intrinsic veracity of a genuine, intimate live performance. The guitar is arguably the most intimate of all instruments; you must hug it to make music with it! Its relatively small voice requires the listener to draw close to the performer. This double dose of intimacy makes the guitar an incredibly personal and articulate voice for an artist. [Photo to right: Harry Pellegrin Nov. 1980.]
I wish you great success with music. Music will feed your soul in a way that nothing else can. I wish you equal success with the guitar. Attaining mastery of an instrument is a long road—a road with many rewards and more than its fair share of frustration. A good tutorial method will help you avoid some frustrations and work through others. There are poor paths and rough roads to be found. This method of mine, should you decide to let it, will put you on the right road, but this road doesn't end when you close the book. Should you decide to turn the page, I welcome you to the road you will travel for the rest of your life!
Published by PAB Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 2369 Scotia, New York 12302
Please go to www.lulu.com to order.
Spa Anthology -- need relaxation music for your Day Spa or Facial and Massage Facility? Click here for hassle-free music.
If you are looking for some unique gifts, please consider either a copy of LOW END or one of Harry's fine CD's of inspirational and relaxing music.
This is Georgio and his wife Lydia. Georgio is a master coffee roaster and can often be found custom-roastinggreen beans at the Plainview Fairway. Guitar: Paulino Bernabe. Favorite Composer: Agustin Barrios Mangore.
Helen is the kind of girl you dream about. She's smart and confident, funny and affectionate, and is killer good-looking. Gary has fallen for her hard. Even so, he is distracted by life's minor happenstances. It's those little things like, oh, crooked cops, shady club owners, illegal smuggling, and a few dead bodies.
Still, Gary can't keep his eyes off Helen.
Harry Pellegrin's mystery novel DEEP END is packed with eerily real and sinister characters, music, interesting locales, bizarre spiritualizm and a plethora of corpses. Couple this with an exceedingly clever plot and we have this year's best beach-read.
And there's Helen!
Read all about her in DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz
Buy Low End through PAB Entertainment Group on AMAZON.com. (Go to the USED AND NEW section) Not only will you get the book, but you'll also receive a FREE COPY of Reflecting Pools, Harry's first keyboard album. You will enjoy!
Do you know how to chain your effects pedals? Do you sound like a 'Wall of Oatmeal' sometimes? ALL the time? Check this out!
Can't read standard musical notation? If you can read the gas prices to the left, sure you can! Please see these articles for the help you need:
Exercise/Technique Session Number Forty: July 14, 2005 Standard Notation -- so simple even musicians can read it!
Exercise/Technique Session Number Forty Four: August 11, 2005 Back to Basics PART ONE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Five: August 18, 2005 Back to Basics PART TWO -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Six: August 25, 2005 Back to Basics PART THREE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Seven: September 1, 2005 Back to Basics PART FOUR -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Eight: September 8, 2005 Back to Basics PART FIVE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Nine: September 15, 2005 Back to Basics PART SIX (The last in this series, but not on this topic! Teaches the new student to read above the fifth fret. Next week a new topic. YEAH!
BIG FOOT SPOTTED IN RHODE ISLAND!!!
Photo and banner courtesy of www.motosavvy.com copyright 2005
THE SECOND ALBUM.... Harry Pellegrin's Reflecting Pools is an ethereal journey into the realm of relaxation. In That Zone is a more classically structured exploration of mood and personality. From the baroque flavor of A Little Song for Amanda to the Bartok-tinged Dream of the Night Dance , a wide range of styles and instrumentation transport the listener...
What you'll find on this page -- links to Harry Pellegrin's pages on classical and electric guitar technique, rock bands of the past, AIR RAID included. Rory Gallagher, master of the blues, one of Ireland's favorite sons. Harry has a small tribute here as he was a great fan of crime novels and his brother Donal graced the book LOW END with a wonderful foreword. There is a tribute to Harry Pellegrin's mentor Albert Valdes-Blain and his teacher and mentor Andres Segovia. What does that make Harry? Second generation Segovia?
"You'll see pages on Fender's wonderful and innovative guitars. But you'll also find information on my novels and music. Look, I hate to be self-promoting, but I think you'll find my stuff to be worthy of your attention. Please check it all out." -- Harry Pellegrin
NEW! The History of the Classic Guitar from Lute to the 21st Century (New article on Vicente Arias has been added)
Harry Pellegrin's Much-Visited Guitar Page Feature!
The Bronx was the place to live in the thirties, forties and most of the fifties. It suffered from its own success. Hey, Harry Pellegrin grew up there. Everyone wanted to live in the urban paradise and the strain on the infrastructure proved too great. Changing social values may have contributed to the downfall of the Bronx as I knew it during the sixties and seventies. People who had lived all their lives in the Bronx decided that the place was too crowded or too 'working class' and moved to Westchester or across the river to Nyack, Nanuet, New City and points north. Many people blame the decline of the Bronx in the eighties to one ethnic group or another. I don't believe this is an accurate assessment. It was the vacuum of people that drew in an economically poorer stratum of society. Landlords panicked and formerly well-rooted families pulled up their stakes and fled. The City's financial crises of the seventies left little solvency to either maintain or expand development or even merely patch up the roads. More...
Rory Gallagher, Legendary Blues Guitarist
In those days, progressive rock was popular. Guitarists had large stacks of amps, tons of outboard gear and numerous instruments on stage. Who could afford all this hardware to make music? Why was it necessary? This frustrated Harry to the point that he had decided to stop playing guitar and concentrate on the bass. Then he heard Rory. There on stage was one man with a battered Stratocaster and one small combo amp. With this limited arsenal, Rory Gallagher made more honest, meticulously crafted music than anyone Harry had seen before. Not only did Harry decide to stick with the guitar, he found the genre known as the Blues and began a love affair with the Stratocaster that continues to this day.
Rory Gallagher toured almost continuously until shortly before his death on June 14, 1995. In Europe, the anniversary of his passing is commemorated with tribute festivals and other events. Rory has never found the recognition he deserved in the United States. His popularity in Europe was huge—and it continues to grow! Loyal American fans are continuously spreading the good word as well, we will see Rory get the fame he so justly deserved! More...
Untermyer Park , Yonkers New York
Located in North-west Yonkers, is a beautiful site, full of interesting architecture and expansive flower beds.
It was once the site of a private estate owned by the Untermyer family. The original mansion has become part of St. John's Riverside Hospital. The grounds of the mansion are now included in the park. The park affords a spectacular view of the Jersey Palisades.
Popular local legend has it that various sites on the property were used in occult rituals. Regardless, the locale is quite spooky on a moonlit night. The park closes at dusk, so you'll have to take my word for that! As teenagers, we'd often drive up from the Bronx to hang out, play hide and seek and do other things that teenagers do when relieved of parental observation. More...
Woodlawn Cemetery , Bronx New York NOW WITH MORE PICTURES!!! (7/7/05)
About fifty yards from the Pellegrin grave , lies the earthly remains of one of American music's brightest lights-- WC Handy , the father of the blues. His stone is basically a grave marker, carved with a musical staff, a trumpet and a simple name and dates. As I took a photo of this great man's grave, something shiny caught my eye in the grass. If you look at the photo, you will see a horn mouthpiece. This was the shiny thing I saw. I do not know whether it was a remembrance from a fellow musician, or a token placed by a grieving loved-one. More...
Big Hill Shelter , Harriman State Park
Famed Performer and Instructor of the Classical Guitar -- Albert Valdés-Blain
I met Albert Blain in 1974. I had heard of him by reputation, of course. The guitar teacher who had brought me along to that point at which I was ready to undertake a study of the classical guitar at the college level, well, he had admonished me when he'd heard with whom I would be studying. With much the same advise as Mary had given the servants at the marriage feast at Cana, he'd told me "Whatever he tells you to do, just do it!"
Born in Havana Cuba in 1921, Albert Blain was still a New Yorker--he'd lived in the City since 1923, the year his parents brought him and brother Roland to the United States. His father had chosen the guitar for Albert and Roland. The two would become a duo performance act, recording extensively in the 1940's and 1950's.
Albert Blain studied with Andrés Segovia, the performer and educator who is truly the father of the Classical Guitar revival of the 20th century. After retiring from the world's concert stage, Blain opened a guitar studio on 13th Street in Manhattan. More...
a tribute to Andrés Segovia
Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) is the father of the twentieth century's classical guitar renaissance. Indeed, his efforts can to still be felt in the seventeen years (as of this writing) since his death. Without his untiring work to promote the instrument through his ambassadorship of the guitar, it would still be considered a folk instrument.
Segovia's career got its start when his uncle introduced the four year old Andres to the guitar through folk songs sung to a strummed ‘air guitar.' The boy showed a deep interest and was transported forthwith to the local luthier. Young Segovia's family attempted to dissuade him from throwing his life away on a humble instrument. They told him ‘it wasn't respectable.' This hardened his resolve to both master the instrument on his part as well as to legitimize it to the music world and the world at large. He dreamed of a day when the guitar would share the concert and recital stage on an equal footing with the piano and the violin. This vision drove him on. His plan was threefold—to present the guitar to the concert-going public as a serious virtuoso's instrument, to establish a pedagogical system for the instruction of the instrument on the university level and to build a repertoire for the classical guitar through his own careful and stylish transcriptions of Bach, Scarlatti and others as well as to persuade prominent modern composers to craft new music for the instrument. This was his lifelong path. He followed it through to the end; no one can argue that he didn't succeed far above and beyond. More...
AIR RAID Bar Band of the 1980's
Bronx Bar Band Telepathe Reunites under the guise of AIR RAID
Harry Pellegrin and John Podesta try to reassemble AIR RAID, one of Harry's old bands...
Way back in 1975, there was a band in the North Bronx. Yeah, there were quite a few bands in that part of the world, come to think of it, but this one was a curious blend of former Mount and former Cardinal Spellman students. (With a smattering of Fordham University folk.) The lion shall lay down with the lamb... Music can solve the world's problems.
AIR RAID was formed by Martin Seddon in the early Fall of 1980. Martin, aka Captain Marty, was born in England and moved to the USA (well, if you call Mt. Vernon, NY the USA.) when he was fourteen years of age. Naw, Mount Vernon is a nice little city that was home to the Left Bank, a great new wave/rock club in the late seventies and early eighties. Anyway, Marty is a graduate of Parsons School of Design, and being a graphic artist and fronting a rock and roll band are the only two things that have ever meant anything to him. Harry met Marty through the bulletin board at PragmaTech Sound. More...
The Discords , Five Part Bronx Harmonies of the 1960's
Some of Harry Pellegrin's past articles including:
The Hitler Youth in Ohio
Daytona Bike Week 1993
In 1968 I had begun attending Mount Saint Michael Academy, also known by its students as “The Concentration Camp on the Hill.” This was an all-boy's junior and senior high school well known for its sports programs. The Mount was also considered academically superior to the many of parochial schools and definitely on a higher level of excellence than the public high schools in the area. My parents had always been lenient with me when it came to self-expression. If I wanted to wear green bell bottoms and grow my hair long -- even if they didn't approve of the style – they would allow me to go that route and even defend my right to be strange! By 1967 my hair was a good bit longer than was socially acceptable and definitely way past the Mount's nothing-on-the-collar code. I soon realized I really couldn't fight this; I could be going to public school after all. My father went to bat for me every time the Dean of Discipline would send a letter home in an attempt to have me dress more conservatively. The Mount had a tie and sport jacket policy. They didn't indicate either sizing or color -- facts I was well known to exploit. Needless to say, I had most of my fellow students -- the jocks -- wanting to beat me up because I was different. To give a glimpse into what six years at the Mount did for me, let me tell you about my response to my ‘recent graduate' survey. When asked ‘What is the most important thing Mount St. Michael's taught you?” I responded “Never trust a man who wears a dress.” More...
Your humble scribe, his books, his music
Hey, the new album is out! That's right, finally a follow-up to the reissue of my old album from the late 1980's.
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...
Click the image to the left to learn more, hear a few tracks --even get ordering info if you want it!
"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."
...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or www.bathtubmusic.com. In That Zone, is now out! Please visit www.bathtubmusic.com for details and to order.
LOW END What's new with the book that came out over a year ago? After being on back-order at Amazon.com for what seemed like a century, it is my understanding that copies are once again shipping. Barnes and Noble's website is on-again-off-again, but PAB (on Amazon as an authorized vendor) has LOW END in stock and it comes with a CD!
DEEP END, the exciting sequel, is being shopped by my literary agent even as we speak.
The Guitar Sessions: Weekly tech tips and exercises to help the guitarist improve. This feature has really taken off. Each week a new page is posted with either an exercise to get the left and right hands moving more efficiently and effectively or an interesting piece from the standard repertoire , demonstrating a necessary technical ability. Judging by the hits these pages receive, you guitar players love this feature!
The page is updated every Thursday. Visit the 2004 Archive as well!
In my opinion, the murder mystery genre reached its zenith in the 1930's and 1940's. The novels penned in those decades were taut, no-nonsense stories of people in life and death crises, people who did not flinch when confronted with overwhelming odds or overwhelming emotion. Some of these tales could be hard-edged and hard-boiled, but the heroes invariably had a soft side as well.
I believe that over the years, in an attempt to mimic real life, the writers of murder mysteries--and most other literature, for that matter--have lowered the standards of excellence set by such authors as the gritty Raymond Chandler and the sophisticated Dorothy Sayers. Many authors misinterpret smut for romance and brutality for strength.
My novels aspire to the standards set by the 1940's mystery writers. My tales are as real and grimy as the mean streets that spawned them. Even so, and though they deal with modern issues, you will not find gratuitous sex in my characters' relationships. Sex may be alluded to, but it is never allowed out from behind closed doors. You will find that my books are entertaining to a broad audience--I have had positive comments from teens to grandmothers. One reader was surprised when I told him that there were no obscenities in the book he'd just finished. He hadn't missed them! A good story doesn't need such unnecessary 'embellishment.'
I have conducted book signings at churches, country clubs, libraries and even a street corner (don't ask!) and I've never been called to task for, or ashamed of, my work. Pick up a copy of my latest novel and see if it isn't a good read!
This site is a way for me to commemorate and celebrate a life and lifestyle that is now extinct. Why extinct? Is it that Thomas Wolfe " You-can't-go-home-again " thing? Is it because life is so much different now that what we experienced in the Bronx in the 60's and 70's is no longer relevant? Yes. No. Yes and no? Definitely maybe ! Why do I always start these little essays with questions?
At first, the main thrust of this site was to promote my book. It is a worthy goal; the book tells a good tale and everyone who has read it finds it entertaining and thought-provoking. With that sole goal, I went live with this site back in August of 2003. What happened next is what makes this site truly valuable.
There are people I grew up with, attended school and with whom I played in bands -- neighbors, friends, good family -- who I hadn't seen since I moved from the Bronx in 1986. Divorce had forced me into exile, time and distance conspired to seemingly turn this into a life sentence. Thank the muses for the internet! This site wasn't live for more than two months before I was reunited with Paul Silvestro , a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen in seventeen years. His brother Larry , the guy who had turned me on to playing guitar and taught me the things about music that matter the most, now with him I had no contact since 1983. Twenty years! Too long. I felt as if a part of my soul had been restored -- a part that had been missing for ages and had long ago been written off. But more was to come.
Anthony Pernice, Art Clement , Mike Moretti -- all reunited to me.
The 1960's weren't good to a number of us -- many of us had our personal demons to exorcise, be it substance abuse or the insidious hedonism of the times. but through it all, we were instilled with a vibe, cast in an artistic mold--call it what you will--but unless these same environmental stimuli are exactly reproduced, there will never be another crop of people quite the same.
This page delves into what we experienced and how we incorporated these experiences into art, music, literature and life . I've paid tribute to my neighborhood, the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The Discords -- Larry Silvestro and Artie Clemente's first band in the early mid-sixties-- they're here with their matching outfits, Fender, Hagstrom and Gretsch guitars plus those impeccably precise five part harmonies.
And speaking of the Bronx, I can't talk about Wakefield without mentioning Mount Saint Michael Academy on Murdock Avenue. The Mount was my Junior and High School and although I was not a happy camper while there, I made a few really good friends and consider the education received to be a fine one.
Of course, there is an homage to Leo Fender and his magnificent designs, the Telecaster © and the Stratocaster ©. I officially declare C.L. Fender an honorary Bronxite. These instruments have literally changed my life and the way we all hear music. Check out this page on my site.
Rory Gallagher, whom I saw play in 1973 and who has influenced me ever since--he has a page here as well. He has gone on now, but the impact he made is still rippling outwards, changing how we interpret the blues.
Untermyer Park in Yonkers and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx are included on this site. We were kids interested in a good ghost story and both these places were terrific for providing a few innocent and fun goose bumps.
...and of course, my book!
Please enjoy this site. Nose around. Anyone can find something here to read and get a chuckle.
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