"With the guitar, it is not so much
listening to music as it is dreaming with music..."
"The guitar is the instrument a man plays
when he wishes to express his heart to a woman. If there is an infidelity, then the
man plays the 'cello to his friend. If the friend is implicated in this
infidelity, then the man
plays the organ to express his sorrow to God..."
-Andres Segovia circa 1967
Andrés Segovia (1893-1987)
is the father of the twentieth centurys classical guitar renaissance. Indeed, his efforts can to still be felt in the nearly two decades (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 Segovias family attempted to dissuade him from throwing his life away on a humble instrument. They told him it wasnt 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 threefoldto present the guitar to the concert-going public as a serious virtuosos 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 didnt succeed far above and beyond.
Segovia gave his first public concert in Spain at the age of [fifteen], with his professional debut at the age of twenty in Madrid. His original program included transcriptions from Tárrega, as well as his own transcriptions of Bach and others. Many so called "serious" musicians believed that Segovia would be laughed off of the stage, because the guitar could not play classical music. In fact, Segovia astounded the audience. The only problem he had, was that the guitar could not produce enough sound to fill the hall. Over the coming years, Segovia would perfect his technique and push luthiers to experiment with new woods and designs, which could increase the natural amplification of the guitar. With the advent of Nylon strings, the guitar could produce more consistent tones, while also being able to project the sound much farther.
Segovia's quest lead him to America in 1928 for his first concert in New York. Again he overwhelmed the audience with his technique and musicianship, and converted more dissenters to the classical guitar. His rousing success in New York led to offers for more appearances in America and Europe, and a trip to the Orient in 1929. Segovia, and the classical guitar had arrived.
As Segovia traveled the world, he and the guitar became more and more popular. Composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos began to compose original pieces specifically for the guitar. With their dark and melancholy mixture of dissonance and cello-like phrasing, Villa-Lobos' compositions in particular, seemed to fit the guitar perfectly. Segovia had also begun to transpose the masterpieces for the guitar. In fact his transcription of Bach's Chaconne, has become one of the most famous and difficult pieces to master. His transcription makes the Chaconne seem as if Bach originally intended it to be played on the guitar instead of the violin. Segovia's repertoire was increasing, as was the guitar's. His goal was becoming a reality. All that was left was the third and final part of his mission... to pass on the legacy to a new generation.
Segovia 's numerous students, now supplemented by another generations of student's students, carry on Segovia's tradition of scholarship and excellence. The death of Andres Segovia, marquis of Salobrena by royal decree and sovereign of the guitar by universal acclaim, ended an 80-year endeavor a more than successful one to make the guitar more than a simple instrument suitable only for accompaniment.
The 94-year-old Segovia had been hospitalized In New York last month during what proved to be his final tour. He died peacefully at his home In Madrid. Spain, on Tuesday, while watching TV. his physician, Dr. Angel Castillo, reported.
Segovia and painter Pablo Picasso were considered Spains most treasured exports of this century. At his death, millions around the world had heard his adaptations of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Scarlatti. Like Picasso, Segovia molded the techniques of the past to the realities of the present. In Segovias case he drew drama and melody in forms never heard before and seldom exceeded since from a 12th century. six-stringed device descended from the ancient lute.
He was, said Beatle George Harrison, the father of us all." For before Harrison and the other moderns could commercialize the instrument, there had to be the conceptualization. And that was Andres Segovia.
Since 1909, when he was 15 and made his professional debut in Granada, he had performed on stark stages normally containing only a piano bench, a footstool and a guitar, which the artist always referred to as female because of its shape. He would wrap his fat, stubby fingers around its neck and pluck from it nuances once considered far beyond its capabilities.
Reviewers, critics and fellow artists always mentioned the word intimacy. His performances, said the worlds musicologists, were sophisticated, yet they also were vibrant and acclaimed as lessons of rhythm, style and inflection. All those accolades were but a distant glint In the future when he was a boy. When I was young I wanted to play the guitar, he wrote In one of two autobiographies, But I was told it wasnt respectable. My father broke three guitars to stop me from practicing.
Parental outbursts were not enough. The practicing and the studying continued. Both were done in isolation, for there was only one guitarist in
Linares, where Segovia grew up, and that man played flamenco accompaniment only.
In 1923 he traveled to London, where the critic for the Times came to hear him with something less than enthusiasm. Later, however, he wrote, We remained to hear the last possible note, for it was the most delightful surprise of the season. The next year, at the insistence of cellist Pablo Casals, Segovia performed In Paris, where his audiences included composers Manuel de Falla and Paul Dukas. The critics offered effusive praise and de Fallas music became new grist for Segovias guitar.
By 1928 his performances of the Baroque adaptations of Bach and Scarlatti, coupled with contemporary offerings, had increased his appeal; an American concert was considered viable. It took place at Town Hall in New York in 1928. Critic Olin Downes of the New York Times said about the 34-year-old guitarist; He belongs to the very small group of musicians who by transcendent powers of execution and imagination create an art of their own that sometimes seems to transform the very nature of their medium. That concert was followed by 30 more. Most were sold out.
Postwar years brought renewed interest in the guitar, and not just on a classical level. Charlie Christian, an American black, and Django Reinhardt, a Gypsy, had made of it a serious jazz instrument in the 1930's and it became the mainstay of an emerging form of blues and rhythm soon to be known as rock n roll. This guitar sound, however. was to Segovia merely an amplified abomination. Whoever heard of an electric violin, electric cello or, for that matter, an electric singer? he commented to one interviewer.
He passed 50, then 60, then 70 and moved into his 80's still practicing five hours a day. Tall and courtly, he would walk on stage wearing a somber coat and flowing tie. He took an apartment In Manhattan and filled it with Spanish antiques. He became a philosopher as well as a performer and in 1961 likened his playing to a construction project. When one puts up a building one makes an elaborate scaffold to get everything into its proper place. But when one takes the scaffold down, the building must stand by itself with no trace of the means by which it was erected. That is how a musician should work. His health remained exceptional into his 90s, with only an eye operation for a detached retina in 1968 interrupting his playing schedule.
In 1961 he had married Emilia. Nine years later, at the age of 77, he fathered a son, Carlos Andres. He had another son, Andres, now 65, from a previous marriage. His schedule in those last years would have tired a young rock guitarist. His long life he facetiously attributed to piety, telling Daniel Carlaga, a Los Angeles Times music writer, in 1981 that my prayer to the Lord is I have been a great sinner. I do not deserve heaven. Let me stay here."
Los Angeles Times
El Maestro dies in Madrid at 94
By MICHAEL McGOVERN
Daily News Staff Writer
Andres Segovia, 94, the grandee of classical guitar, died Tuesday at his home in Madrid.
El Maestro collapsed in the familys downtown apartment while watching afternoon TV with his third wife, Emilia, a former star pupil he married in 1961, and their son, Carlos, 16. Carlos was born when Segovia was 78. Another son, Andres, 60, also survives.
Segovia, slow and unsteady, leaning on a silver-tipped cane, returned home recently from a nearly year-long concert tour in the United States. He was met by star-studded crowds, but in April, he entered New Yorks Cabrini Hospital suffering heart irregularities and needing rest. A Carnegie Hall concert had to be canceled.
In his last major interview, scheduled to be aired tonight on TVs 20/20, interviewer Hugh Downs asks Segovia: You do a lot of work, you practice, you perform, you travel. Youre 94. You still teach. Do you ever feel like saying, This is enough, I want to rest? Segovia, whose career endured more than 70 years and who still had been giving 25 concerts a year, replied: You know what I think? If I am tired now, I dont mind, because I have eternity to rest.
In another recent interview, he said, Ive had three wives and three guitars. I still play the guitars.
Segovia established the guitar as a concert instrument.
At 14, he gave his first concert and eventually cultivated three generations of concert guitarists who underscore his position as the opening page of a tradition rather than a peculiarity.
He was one of the few classical guitarists to have earned a gold record for having sold a million copies of a single recording. His record interpreted works by Purcell, Scarlatti and Handel. Self-taught on the guitar, the Andalusian faced his first New York audience in sold-out Town Hall Jan. 8, 1928, knowing his recital was to be the first guitar concert in the Big Apples musical history. Segovia triumphed that night and later said, When I began, the guitar was enclosed in a vicious circle. There were no composers writing for the guitar, because there were no virtuoso guitarists. There were no great guitarists, because there was. no great repertory. I tried to break the circle by calling upon my friends who were composers to write for my instrument. But I never commissioned. They wrote spontaneously, and after hearing me play their pieces, they continued to write for me.
Segovia compared the guitar to a small orchestra, an orchestra seen through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. He disdained the use of a pick and dismissed the electric guitar as not being a guitar at all.
Segovia was born Feb. 18. 1893, in the southern Spanish city of Granada, where the guitar was played by Gypsies who performed flamenco music in taverns.
City authorities said Segovias body will lie in state for four hours today at Madrids Fine Arts Academy, where a Mass will be said before burial at San Isidro cemetery.
With News Wire Services
BELOW: Rigby cartoon from June of 1987
It is interesting to note how we look upon time, life and
the passage of the years. Few living
aficionados can say they were present at a recital where Segovia played the Hauser now on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, Segovia did not switch to a Ramirez 1a until the 1960's -- when he was in his late 60's! A more natural progression would have been for the aging Segovia to go from a large, long-scale instrument like the Ramirez to the more comfortable (and equally toneful) Hauser. No, at a point where many recitalists might have been considering a relaxing retirement, the Maestro made things interesting for himself and went to the tougher instrument. It can be argued that he was looking for the more romantic sound of the Ramirez and some have suggested it was a nationalistic decision. Whatever the man's reason, he certainly was 'at home' on the larger Ramirez. playing it until his death in 1987. Below: Segovia plays the Hauser circa 1960.
The aging Maestro, mentor, teacher, wealth of knowledge.... Here we see Segovia in the 1970's conducting a master class with the mighty Ramirez 1a.
For a slightly different view of Segovia, the more human side --
some might say petty -- read
SILVER MOONBEAMS by Richard 'Rico' Stover. It documents
the life and times of Agustin Barrios and, in part, the way Segovia
treated a fellow artist.
Segovia had many students throughout his career,
including some famous guitarists such as:
When speaking of the guitar in the 20th century, one
illustrious name usually is placed above all others: Andrés Segovia.
There is however a name I would place above his: Agustín Barrios Mangoré
(1885-1944). Barrios was not only a master guitarist, but something
Segovia never was: a master composer. It is said that there was a bit of
jealousy on Segovia’s part towards his Native American contemporary from
Paraguay. Despite several friendly encounters between Segovia and
Barrios in the 1920s in Buenos Aires, Segovia displayed jealousy for his
superior that later turned into malice. Agustín Barrios, considered by
many as the greatest guitar-composer of the 20th century, "was not a
good composer for the guitar" according to the grouchy Spanish diva. The
naive Barrios was none the wiser, playing his own compositions for
Segovia at the latter’s residence, "which pleased him greatly," as he
wrote to his brother Martín. "There wasn’t the slightest hint of
petulance between us." Barrios had given Segovia a dedicated copy of the
sheet music to his masterpiece, La Catedral, which he took back
to Spain with him, supposedly to play in his concerts. Barrios’ friend,
the Uruguayan guitarist Miguel Herrera Klinger, wrote: "If he [Segovia]
had played it [La Catedral], with the extraordinary abilities he
possessed, he would have elevated Barrios to inaccessible heights, thus
detracting from his own artistic prestige." Of course, Segovia did not
include La Catedral in his programs. (Six Silver Moonbeams,
Please check www.CDBABY.com
for release, ordering information and for mp3 sample clips.
Dance Concert RED-ROJA will take
place this March! A preview performance will take place on Wednesday,
March 4 with four performances to follow: Thursday March 4th and Friday
March 5th at 8PM and Saturday March 6th at 2 and 8PM. Tickets are $10
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thru Friday from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. Call 518-388-6545 for information
LOW ENDBy Harry George Pellegrin. The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries. Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's... LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy. Is it only drug-induced paranoia? Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all. Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs. See more info...
Classic Guitar Method Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: 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. See more info...
DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man. Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with LULU.com. See more info...
Harry George Pellegrinis an author of mystery novels, a musician and recording artist. Primarily a guitarist, Harry's latest recordings are keyboard-driven and most easily classified as
New Age, though we don't like to consider the music in a 'genre box.' Harry G. Pellegrin's first published novel,
LOW END, is a murder mystery set in South Yonkers and New York City in the late 1980's. The characters, all derived from friends and acquaintances, try to investigate the death of one of their own -- not so much to solve a crime, but to keep from sharing a similar fate.
LOW END has been met with great critical acclaim. The sequel,
DEEP END, is being shopped by a well-known literary agent at the time of this writing.
This page is designed for a number of reasons. We'll be honest, a primary goal is to expose a larger audience to Harry's music and writing. Another goal of the webmaster is to create a repository for the knowledge that years of experience in the performing arts industry has given Harry. Creating a chronicle of life in the Bronx in the 1960's and 1970's is another goal we hope to accomplish.
Thanks to all you wonderful people for coming out to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Thanks from all of us to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Foundation and Time Warner Cable for sponsoring this concert series and my recital!
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
CLICK HERE to listen to an excerpt from the Schenectady
Today Television broadcast of February 7, 2007. Ann Parillo hosts the Wednesday Edition and was kind enough to ask Harry to perform on this live broadcast. Be sure to watch the Schenectady Today Show on Time Warner Channel 16!
recipe Harry Pellegrin prepared on the 'Schenectady Today' Program December 27, 2006! (Picture at left: Harry getting ready to play on the 12/27 show.)
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.
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
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.
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, 2005Back to Basics PART ONE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Five: August 18, 2005Back to Basics PART TWO -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Six: August 25, 2005Back to Basics PART THREE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Exercise/Technique Session Forty Seven: September 1, 2005Back 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!
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
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.
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!
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...
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.
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.
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.
Bronx Bar BandTelepathe Reunites under the guise of
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.
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.”
Your humble scribe, his books, his music
Just the Facts...
The Mystery Series written in the hard-boiled cool style of the 1940's masters
Upstate author pens rock 'n' roll mystery
LEE GOODEN , For The Saratogian
By Harry G. Pellegrin
Published by Bedside Books
332 pages $22 Trade paperback
'Low End' is a mystery that Harry Pellegrin's protagonist Gary Morrissey solves between 1988 and 1989. It is similar to other mystery crime noir characters written in the first person, like Robert B. Parker's Spencer, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Lawrence Block's Mathew Scudder.
Pellegrin sets the story in the late '80s New York City rock 'n'roll scene with believability. His knowledge of blues and rock is undisputed. He mentions the late great guitarist Rory Gallagher, who was not only one of the world's greatest guitarists, but also a fan of detective and crime fiction.
The novel begins with a cleverly paced prologue describing the murder of Morrissey's friend and former bass player and band mate Devon. As a present day Morrissey reminisces about Devon, Pellegrin sends the reader back to 1988.
In 1988 Morrissey is a rock 'n' roll blues guitarist and a recent divorcee who lives in a hot sticky apartment in the South [Yonkers]. His day job consists of repairing copy machines.
He drives a [Fiat 124S Spider] and seems relatively happy going day to day from beer to beer, paycheck to paycheck and gig to gig until a friend and band mate named Captain Marty, from their defunct band Air Raid, informs Morrissey that their mutual friend and bassist Devon has died and was possibly murdered.
Captain Marty asks Morrissey to investigate because he thinks Morrissey would be good at getting the answers.
Morrissey follows clues and discovers that everything is not what it seems. He is led to a gripping cat-and-mouse ending with a remorseless killer.
'Low End' is crafted like a song. It is a crime novel narrated in the first person with the typical wise cracks and testosterone-fueled bravado, and a mystery that one can sink their teeth into. But it is also a spiritual journey.
There are many writers who try too hard to emulate the masters, like Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald, Spillane and McBain. So cumbersome are their efforts, that they lose their own voices. But Pellegrin's protagonist has a voice of the street and a hardened cynical edge, softened with a good heart.
But readers will trust Morrissey only so far, because we know that with enough rope he will hang himself. Morrissey is like a mouth sore that we just can't help but touch. We know it's going to hurt but we don't care. Pellegrin, like God, sits in the back seat while his creation takes over.
I look forward to the further adventures of Morrissey and anything else Harry G. Pellegrin writes. He has written for periodicals like Soundboard: The Journal of the Guitar Foundation of America, The Horse: Backstreet Choppers. He lives with his wife and two daughters in rural upstate New York.
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 ofthe Bronx. The Discords --
Larry Silvestro and Artie Clemente'sfirst 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.
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.
Technique Session One Hundred six: January 31, 2007 Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 19)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred Five: January 25, 2007
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 18)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred Four: January 18, 2007
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 17)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred Three: January 11, 2007
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 16)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred Two: January 4, 2007
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 15)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred One : December 28, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 14)
Guitar Technique Session One Hundred: December 21, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 13)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Nine: December 14, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 12)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Eight: December 7, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 11)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Seven: November 30, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 10)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Six: November 23, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 9)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Five: November 16, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 8)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Four: November 9, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 7)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Three: November 2, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 6)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety Two
: October 26, 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 5)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety One:
October 19 , 2006Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 4)
Guitar Technique Session Ninety : October 11 , 2006
Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 3)
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Nine:
October 5 , 2006Continuing the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 2)
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Eight:
September 28 , 2006The beginning of the Complete Pascual Roch Volume 2 (part 1)
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Seven:
September 13 , 2006Villa-Lobos Prelude One and 1950's interpretation.
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Six:
September 6 , 2006Villa-Lobos Prelude Two repeats the left hand fingerings quite a bit. It's a good thing!
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Five:
August 30, 2006Another look at artificial harmonics through the haze of time.
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Four:
August 23, 2006Hey man, it ain't written that way! When to play something differently.
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Three:
August 16, 2006The Plateau, and how to get the heck off of it!
Guitar Technique Session Eighty Two:
August 9, 2006A piano transcription on a long boring plane ride.
Guitar Technique Session Eighty One:
August 2, 2006Right and Left hands both get a work-out in this Albéniz classic. PART THREE
Guitar Technique Session Eighty:
July 28, 2006Right and Left hands both get a work-out in this
Albéniz classic. PART TWO
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Nine:
July 21 , 2006Right and Left hands both get a work-out in this
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Eight:
July 13 , 2006Weird and Funky Reverses
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Seven:
July 7 , 2006Pascual Roch and harmonics: a must-read!
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Six:
June 29, 2006It's all too trilling !
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Five:
June 22, 2006Oops I klinkered Again!
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Four:
June 16, 2006Artificial Harmonics and Amelia
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Three:
June 8, 2006Technique and Musicality:
Which is More Important???
Guitar Technique Session Seventy Two
May 2, 2006The Classic Guitar Method has Arrived!
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Nine
March 9, 2006
Carulli and a few new Kama Sutra positions, well actually one new position on the guitar. That sounds just plain wrong! Oh, click the link and see what the flap is all about! PART THREE
Guitar Technique Session Seventy
March 16, 2006
Carulli and a few new Kama Sutra positions, well actually one new position on the guitar. That sounds just plain wrong! Oh, click the link and see what the flap is all about! PART FOUR
Guitar Technique Session Seventy One
March 23, 2006
Why Transcribe? We look at a Bach Cello Suite. (First in a series.)
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Eight
March 2, 2006
Carulli and a few new Kama Sutra positions, well actually one new position on the guitar. That sounds just plain wrong! Oh, click the link and see what the flap is all about! PART TWO.
Guitar Technique Session Seventy One
March 23, 2006
Why Transcribe? We look at a Bach Cello Suite. (First in a series.)
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Seven
February 26, 2006
Carulli and a few new Karma Sutra positions, well actually one new position on the guitar. That sounds just plain wrong! Oh, click the link and see what the flap is all about!
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Six
February 17. 2006
Giuliani is great but a bit harmonically challenged! what is this HERESY? Tune in and check it out.
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Two
January 5, 2006
How do you get the new student to cleanly, accurately and quickly transition from one chord to another?
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Three
January 17, 2006
Getting the new student to use Apoyando and Free Stroke in the same phrase to articulate a melody, A simple Etude by
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Four
January 27, 2006
Sor's Etude Number One can still teach a few things after a century and a half or so...
Guitar Technique Session Sixty Five
February 9. 2006
Guitar taught right. Figures Carulli would take the point! My man!
Exercise Week Twenty:
February 3, 2005
Blues/Rock Soloing Part Four -- Majorly Outside the Box
Exercise Week Twenty One:
February 10, 2005
Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. AVOID IT!
Exercise Week Twenty Two:
February 17, 2005
Getting Sor with an Etude... Apoyando PART TWO
Exercise Week Twenty Three:
February 24, 2005
Sight Reading 101 with a Giuliani Rossiniane (Opus 119, No. 1)
Exercise Week Twenty Four:
March 3, 2005
Bend and stretch, doing two things at once and finger independence
Exercise Week Twenty Five:
March 10, 2005
Apoyando Part Three -- using Carcassi Opus 60 No. 16 to get that ring finger resting...
Exercise Week Twenty Six:
March 17, 2005
Get those fingers where they ought to be! Proper Left Hand Positioning
Exercise Week Twenty Seven:
March 24, 2005
Drop D tuning a classical guitarist's perspective on a common practice.
Exercise Week Twenty-Eight
March 31, 2005
Right hand Technique --tone production on the Electric Guitar
Exercise Week Twenty Nine:
April 7, 2005
Right hand Technique -- tone production on the Classical Guitar
Exercise Week Thirty:
April 14, 2005
Sight Reading 101 Part Two -- Back to a more Basic Approach
Exercise Week Thirty-One:
April 21, 2005
Sight Reading 101 Part Three -- Let's Read all over the Freakin' Neck, man
Exercise Week Thirty-Two:
April 28, 2005
Sight Reading 101 Part Four -- We got the flashlight and the Lizard Poison!
Exercise Week Thirty-Three:
May 19, 2005
Sight Reading 101 Part Five -- The shape of things to come and tone ranges
Exercise Week Thirty-Three:
May 25, 2005
An old Carulli Prelude gets that Butt-Ugly Thumb moving like a champ!
Exercise Week Thirty-Four:
June 2, 2005
Jon Voight taught me not to be late. But until that time when I really learn the lesson, here is a neat Carulli Andante for you to finger.
Exercise Week Thirty-Five:
June 9, 2005
Practice Versus Playing The Bout of the Century -- but who will win? He who practices, not just plays...
Exercise Week Thirty-Six:
June 16, 2005
The Stretcher You want to get used to this here rather than at a gig. Actually an easy exercise that builds a skill.
Exercise Week Thirty-Seven:
June 23, 2005
Lute Tabulature You'll need to know how the various methods work to cop some good early music. Viel Ton, the tab of Dowland. THIS IS PART ONE
Exercise Week Thirty-Eight:
June 30, 2005
Lute Tabulature Spanish, Italian and French. The cuisine is great, but the tabulature is good too! THIS IS PART TWO
Exercise Week Thirty-Nine:
July 7, 2005
Lute Tabulature German Tablature -- this is the tough one to interpret (at first.) THIS IS PART THREE
Exercise/Technique Session Number Forty:
July 14, 2005 Standard Notation -- so simple even musicians can read it!
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty One:
July 21, 2005 Planting and Hold That Note! Making your fingers work a little keeps them from working a lot!
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Two: July 28, 2005 Planting and Hold That Note! Making your fingers work a little keeps them from working a lot!
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Three: August 4, 2005Rasgueado (Ooo, pardon me!) Yes, it's a sound, but not that
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Four: August 11, 2005Back to Basics PART ONE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Five: August 18, 2005Back to Basics PART TWO -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Six: August 25, 2005Back to Basics PART THREE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Seven: September 1, 2005Back to Basics PART FOUR -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Eight: September 8, 2005 Back to Basics PART FIVE -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret.
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Forty Nine: September 15, 2005 Back to Basics PART SIX -- teaching the new student to read above the fifth fret. This is the last part of the series. Next week, something new!
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Fifty:
September 23, 2005 Rigging Your Pedals - Sounding like a garage band? Try rearranging the furniture!
Guitar Technique Session Fifty One:
October 13, 2005 Be a tone meister with a crap amplifier!
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Number Fifty Two: October 10, 2005 Raiding Hollywood's soundtrack to find great tunes for transcription --
The Harry Lime Theme
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Number Fifty - Three:
October 27, 2005
Another trip to an unlikely place for some recital repertoire
Guitar Exercise or Technique Session Number Fifty Four:
November 3, 2005 More repertoire from the 'lite' classic arena
INTERVIEW: Jack Kirk Master Builder of Fine Classical Guitars. Conducted in 1983, this interview appeared in edited form in Soundboard Magazine. Here is a transcript of the tape made that day in June. Names are named and myths debunked.
Ever break a fingernail prior to a majorly important recital? Here's a way of patching your hand and your career using stuff you already have in the house.
Want to fondly recall life as it was in New York City in 1983? Read this article on
guitar in NY
GUITAR QUEBEC 1983 -- A great conference held by the Guitar Foundation of America. Harry covered the series of master classes held. Read the article he wrote for the Winter 1984 issue of Soundboard.
An old Soundboard article from 1983, this piece discusses college education for guitarists in New York City.