After fiddling with seven string guitars for a decade now, I found that it had not only expanded my horizon as a guitar player, but even more so infused new ideas and inspiration into my composing (not to mention the thourough exploration of rarely used keys). So, a few years ago, I thought maybe upgrading to eight strings might have the same effect. In a way it did – but more so because most of the time my musical brain just had no clue what notes were under my fingers on the 7th and 8th strings. Like a beginner I had to calculate rather the know what note was on a given position.
On the seven string guitar I had run into the same problem, compounded by the fact that existing guitar literature doesn’t offer much for extended range instruments. On the seven string I eventually adapted some Bach piano music to challenge myself to learn what that extra 7th string can do. For the eight string guitar I am working on new adaptations. This version of Bach’s Three Sonatas and Partitas is originally for the violin. It turned out that transposing it down an octave and writing it in bass clef would lead to a good low range workout on the eighth string. I admit that some of the lower chord voicings can be a challenge. They are harder to finger because of the longer scale and therefore wider fret spacing.
After I started playing through the whole set of pieces to check for accuracy I thought it might be a good idea to transpose some of them as low as possible. This would put them into new, unfamiliar keys and add even more challenges. For an added side effect the open strings in the lower keys come in handy in some spots.
These are for a guitar with added B and F# strings, although, if you tune your extra strings to A and E it could also work. You can use a pick or your fingers or any hybrid approach you like. Unlike in the transcriptions from Bach’s piano music, I didn’t use any fingerings or TAB. The main purpose for me on this project is to challenge my sight reading. While my brain knows fairly well that the shell voicings (for example) replicate on the lowest strings, it still takes me an extra split second (and sometimes much longer) to intellectually grasp what note or chord I am playing.
Thank you J. S. Bach for such gorgeous music.
“Choro is an instrumental Brazilian popular music genre which originated in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. Despite its name, the music often has a fast and happy rhythm. It is characterized by virtuosity, improvisation and subtle modulations, and is full of syncopation and counterpoint.”
Another description I found:
“It is a complex popular musical form based on improvisation, and like New Orleans jazz, blues, or ragtime, grew from a formalized musical structure and many worldly influences.”
Many Choros to me actually do sound a little like ragtimes. But I am by no means whatsoever a Choro expert. I just always liked to play brazilian music on guitar and writing a Choro seemed a step up from a bossa or a samba. In that sense the pieces here are more like classical music rather than jazz tunes to be soloed over.
The first of these Choros was “Choro el Ninja” and it popped out in 2005. In many ways it is one of my favorites of the bunch which is why it was recorded on my CD Peter’s Money in 2009. While I was composing more music than ever before since then, every few months a new Choro arrived. Usually just a small melodic idea, which got expanded, transposed, taken to relative major or minor – one could say a lot of hot air.
Once I had a few of these and tried to actually play them I realized that this was excellent practice material – for sight-reading and fingering. Some of these I arranged for solo classical guitar but they are really hard to play and might get some thinning out when I have the chance. These 19 Choros represent a certain time period in my writing. I have since then tried to write more in that style but nothing presentable came out of it.
Choros is now available here. It contains all 19 Choros in standard notation and TAB.
A word about the titles:
I don’t speak Portuguese (I sometimes look up translations of English titles into Portuguese and use these if they sound interesting). Most of the titles reflect more me playing around with words, than expressing any important insights. Although, some of the Choros are named like pizzas on the menu of a pizzeria in Germany (..al Forno, Picante, Margarita, etc.)