This set of studies for the guitar by Carcassi, the 25 Etudes Mélodiques Progressives, op. 60, has become very famous. It has been known to generations of guitarists and was one of my own favourites when I began the guitar.
Matteo Carcassi (c. 1793-1853) was an Italian guitarist who spent much of his life in Paris (see below for his biography). He wrote many pieces for the guitar, and a celebrated method for it. The 25 Etudes were probably composed in about 1836 and were published in about 1853.
This edition presents the original text with only the original fingering and without the addition of any modern fingering. It is the very basic simple text, which can safely be used by beginners.
The 25 Etudes may have been intended to be performed as a set, like some sets of Etudes by pianists such as Chopin, because the work is carefully constructed as a single collection with contrasting pieces, and because it builds up to a symphony-like climax at the end of the last virtuoso piece. But of course it is perfectly in order to take it as a collection of individual items which can be played individually.
This edition presents the original text as found in the two original editions both published in about 1853, by Brandus in Paris and Schott in Mainz. For more on those editions and the circumstances of their publication, please see below.
FINGERING AND TECHNIQUE
The right hand ring finger (a)
Today the right hand ring finger (a) is commonly used a great deal, but it wasn’t in Carcassi’s time. Here is Carcassi writing about right hand fingering in about 1836 in his Method:
“Les 6me. 5me. et 4me. cordes, sur lesquelles s’exécutent le plus souvent les notes appelées basses, se pincent du pouce; les trois autres cordes se pincent, dans les gammes et les phrases de mélodie, avec l’index et le médium alternativement en changeant de doigt à chaque note. Le doigt annulaire ne pince que dans les accords et arpèges composés de 4 5 et 6 notes.”
(“The 6th, 5th and 4th strings, on which the notes called bass notes are usually played, are plucked with the [right hand] thumb. The three other strings are plucked, in scales and melodic passages, with the index and middle fingers alternately, that is, changing the finger at each note. The ring finger [of the right hand] is used only in chords and arpeggios which contain four, five or six notes.”)
I played and play a lot on guitars of the time, and I find that the use of mostly the thumb, index and middle fingers (p i m) without much ring finger (a) is perfectly practical. Also as a bonus, I find it much, much easier.
In the time of Carcassi and Sor the right hand ring finger (a) was not generally used for scales. Instead, sometimes the index and middle fingers were used in alternation (imim), as Carcassi said in the passage quoted above.
But as well as that, another practice, going back to old lute technique, was to use the right hand thumb and index fingers in alternation, right up to the top two strings. Carcassi doesn’t mention it in his method, but Sor does. In his Method of 1830 Sor writes about rapid scale passages as follows:
“Cette observation m’a décidé à exécuter les traits de cette espèce avec le pouce et l’index, et c’est dans cette intention que j’ai fait ma dix-neuvième leçon…”
(“This observation [of the anatomy of the hand] determined me to execute passages of that kind [scale passages] with the thumb and first finger, and with that view I made my nineteenth lesson…”) (English translation from the Tecla edition of Sor’s Method).
Sor says that while some players, especially Aguado, use the index and middle fingers in alternation, he prefers to use the thumb and index fingers in alternation, and he gives detailed anatomical reasons why, and even says that he composed his 19th Lesson specifically to give practice in doing this. (This is his op. 31 no. 19, the well-known piece beginning with four demisemiquavers (sixteenth-notes), which Segovia included in his selection of Sor studies as his no. 10, but Segovia gave a modern fingering which did away with the very purpose for which Sor says he composed this piece).
Again my personal experience is that alternating right hand thumb and index finger (pipi) in scale passages works just fine, and indeed the strength of the right hand thumb gives an added punch, a zest, to them.
The right hand thumb used in chords
In chords with five or six notes, the right hand thumb can play the bottom two or three notes, sliding up them as it goes. Here is Carcassi writing in his method:
“Si l’accord qu’on veut exécuter est composé de trois notes (quelles que soient les cordes sur lesquelles il s’exécute) on le pince avec le pouce l’index et le médium; s’il est de quatre notes on y ajoute l’annulaire, et s’il est de cinq ou six notes le pouce pince en glissant les deux ou trois notes basses, et les autres doigts pincent les trois autres cordes.”
(“If the chord which one wants to play is made up of three notes (regardless of which strings it is played on), one plays it with the thumb, the index and the middle fingers. If it has four notes one adds the ring finger, and if it has five or six notes the thumb plucks the two or three bass notes sliding up them, and the other fingers pluck the three other strings.”)
Using these old techniques might be compared to using lime mortar on ancient buildings. Lime mortar was the material that was usually used at the time when they were constructed, so if you use it now, it goes with the building, it is in harmony with it. In winter it contracts and in summer it expands and the whole building stays in equilibrium. Modern cement? It’s fine in its way, but in an ancient building it isn’t what was intended and it may crack.
If you would like to find out more about the technique of Carcassi’s time, you could read Sor’s or Aguado’s methods which are both available in English from Tecla (www.tecla.com). Carcassi’s method in its original 1836 edition is unfortunately not available yet but it is hoped to bring out an edition with Tecla.
Carcassi in his method used indications such as “5e pos[ition]” etc., for fifth [etc.] position, and these indications are also found here in these Etudes. This is a very handy way to finger this music, like violin music, even though it has not caught on very much since that time. In this edition I have used roman figures for the positions, for example putting the figure V to indicate where the original had “5e pos[ition]”. You will find it simple to use and very economical. The lines that often follow the indication are those of the original edition.
The position indications do not imply whether a barré is or is not to be used. For more on this, see the notes to no. 1 below.
The words barré and Grand barré are from the original editions.
The dynamics of the original editions are often detailed and interesting, for example in no. 2, bars 7 to 8, where the music goes from f to pp in just two bars. I recommend observing the dynamics closely and in detail.
NOTES ON EACH INDIVIDUAL PIECE
This piece consisting of scale passages is a prelude in a very ancient tradition. Many such preludes were found in lute music a century before Carcassi, often acting as an introduction to another piece or group of pieces. Giuliani also has such preludes in his Etudes op. 100 (available in Giuliani’s Complete Studies, TECLA 105), where nos. 17-24 are flexibly constructed pieces consisting mainly of scales, marked “Preludi ad uso cadenza servendosene avanti di cominciare un pezzo di musica” (“Preludes to be used as cadences, to be played before beginning a piece of music”). So this piece by Carcassi can be considered as a prelude or introduction to the entire set of the Etudes op. 60, especially if the entire set is to be performed as a whole.
The piece is marked Allegro, so keep it at a good speed.
It is also marked staccato, the only one in this collection to be so marked. What did staccato mean to Carcassi? He doesn’t mention the word staccato in his method, although he does mention étouffé, in which the right hand fingers pluck the notes and then rapidly deaden the sound by coming to rest again on them. Giuliani mentions that same technique in his Studio for the guitar, op. 1, where he calls it smorzato, and Giuliani also mentions the word staccato in his op. 1 but seems to use it to mean simply scale passages. New Grove says that in this period the term staccato had many varieties of meaning and that “occasionally the term [staccato] may imply emphasis without physical separation”. Perhaps Carcassi meant that in this piece. Performers are advised to play the scales with emphasis or with what we call staccato, as they wish.
For scale passages such as the ones in this piece, Carcassi recommends using the index and middle fingers alternately. Or, I personally like to use the thumb and index fingers in alternation. See the notes on technique above.
At bar 9-10 the Roman figure V stands for “at the fifth position” (“5e position”, says the original edition), that is, with your left hand at the position where your index finger is over the fifth fret. You’ll find this indication of “position” many times in this work. It’s a very handy way of showing where on the fingerboard a passage is to be played (even if it isn’t very commonly used today).
The Roman figures (such as III, V, etc.) only mean the position. They do NOT tell you whether a barré is or is not to be used. For example, at bars 9-10 no barré is needed, whereas at bars 29-30 the D and the G are both played with a barré. Again at bar 31 there is no barré. At bar 32 a barré isn’t needed (but using one might be handy in this particular bar – try it). At bar 33, as at bars 29-30, a barré is needed. At bars 38-39 no barré is needed (the first finger plays the first C in bar 39 and then, as the rest carefully indicates, lifts up and is available to stop the A).
It’s easy when you get used to it!
This piece doesn’t have anything necessarily to do with the right hand ring finger, since Carcassi didn’t use it except in four-note chords and arpeggios. In fact, it may very well be that he composed this piece specifically to give practice in using the index and middle fingers in alternation, as described in the notes on technique above. Carcassi would probably have fingered it ppmi imim in each group. Or, Sor (and I) might prefer ppmi pipi. On the thumb leaping on the two bottom strings, see the notes on technique above.
Think of the first and third groups in each bar as a chord and get the chord ready in your mind in good time in order to go straight to it as a chord.
A favourite piece for very many people. Not too slow. Andantino isn’t any slower than Andante which in Carcassi’s time meant “with movement”, not slow as it is today.
It revels in an ambiguity in that in most bars, a stress is placed on an off-beat: in bar 1, for example, on the F sharp. Yet the underlying rhythm must be kept clear throughout.
Again it is probably ppi mpi mpi ppi at the beginning. Nothing to do with the a finger.
You might practise the piece sometimes with only the four main notes of each bar (omitting the second and third notes of each triplet). For practice only: it clarifies the musical structure.
The repeats come from the original edition, but it may be suggested that they be considered as optional.
Bar 5: the original has 1142 which is rather awkward with its partial barré, and I have replaced it here with 1131 which I prefer.
Again probably not the a finger. Rather perhaps ppi mi mi mi, or even ppi mp mp mp which gives a rich extra-clear sound on the upper strings.
Bar 1 has pf, bar 9 mf, and bar 10 rf (rinf in the Brandus edition). Pf may stand for poco forte but it seems to mean also with some degree of accent but not too much.
The many slurs are all on the top two strings, giving a very clear and as it were shimmering effect to the whole piece.
No doubt the upper part in bars 1-8 and later is to be played as a sustained line.
All the bass notes in bars 1-8 and later are to be played with the thumb. The piece gives very good practice in balancing two simultaneous but very different lines. Don’t forget to observe the rallentando, a tempo, and lento at the end.
The piece, with plenty of life in it, has an allegro tempo to be kept up throughout. The crescendos and decrescendos may be regarded as typical of the interpretation of that mid-Romantic period, and should be observed in performance.
Again Carcassi would not use the right hand ring finger in the repeated notes in bar 1 etc, rather probably pimi.
Practise the bass line alone sometimes, without the upper notes, to clarify the structure. Also practise it as four chords in a bar, not successive notes, for the same purpose.
It is suggested that the repeat of the last section may be regarded as optional.
A tranquil piece, giving practice in downward slurs integrated into the mood of the piece.
A delightful piece with perhaps a bit of a sense of humour in the four portamentos at bars 13-15, the octave downward slur at bar 16, and the chords at bars 23 etc.
This particular study gives practice in slurs. The indication “Allegretto grazioso” shows that the composer intended the piece, with its slurs, to be played not heavily but gracefully. The slurs are aids to speed and lightness rather than being additional difficulties. The form is two eight-bar sections, followed by an eight-bar minor section and a short passage back to the beginning.
In bars 2 and 7, at the end of the first downward scale, the F sharp is played on the third string as a “hammer-on”.
The special sign where the left hand finger moves up is described by Carcassi in his method, where he illustrates it with this same special sign, as follows: “Du son glissé ou porté. Le son glissé ou porté s’exécute par un seul doigt de la main gauche qui glisse le long du manche en passant sur toutes les touches de la première à la deuxième note, après avoir attaqué avec la main droite, la première des deux notes. Le glissé produit un bon effet sur la guitare, parce qu’il imite le son porté de la voix.” (“The glissando or portamento is played by a single finger of the left hand which slides along the neck of the guitar passing along all the frets from the first to the second note, after the first note has been plucked by the right hand. The glissando produces a good effect on the guitar because it imitates the portamento of the voice.”)
The terms glissando and portamento are often confused and used interchangeably (as New Grove says), but often glissando means straight from one note to the other whereas in portamento each individual note is distinctly heard along the way. Carcassi doesn’t tell us which he means, but it seems likely from his words “le son porté de la voix” that he meant each individual note to be distinctly heard.
This charming and delightful piece, a bit like a chirping canary, is one of the best-known pieces in Carcassi’s op. 60. The slurs on the triplets mean only that in each triplet the second and third notes are to be slurred.
As in no. 4, the slurs are always high up on the instrument, chirruping or like a musical clock, with the simplest bass possible, all open strings.
Try to put the left hand in one position for a whole pair of bars, as for example in bars 1 and 2 where Carcassi has indicated by his fingering that both bars are to be played in the same position.
The piece is marked Agitato, and that tempo should be kept up throughout. The pf at the beginning is from the original editions. The meaning is not certain, but perhaps it means, in conjunction with the agitato marking, a performance in which a potential forte is held in check. It should be borne in mind that the piece dates from the mid-Romantic period. Then there is a quiet section in the middle, forte at the modulation into flats, then it ends quietly. These indications tell us that although this piece is agitato, it doesn’t shout, it only narrates.
Observe the rests which are all carefully marked, also the dynamic indications.
It gives practice in playing rapid arpeggios in treble and bass: it means that the right hand must move easily and rapidly across the strings and back again.
The arpeggios are almost all close together, moving up and down. Very nicely structured. A little balance is added at bars 15-16 where the pattern changes very slightly. Both sections end with a diminuendo, piano, and ritardando.
Practise the top line separately (D, E, F sharp, G, etc) and the bass line also separately (F sharp, G, A, B, and all the way up and down again), to clarify the structure.
Bar 7 has a very good example of economical fingering: the 3 alone is not only useful for guidance, but also confirms that the open second string is used to give a campanelas-like effect.
“Andante” in Carcassi’s time meant “with movement”, not slow as it is today, so “Andante mosso” means “with a lot of movement”.
Lightly, not too fast: it’s Andantino grazioso. Again, Andantino means with movement. As with so many other pieces, practising the bass line alone will help to clarify the structure. Try singing the bass line.
Again this piece probably has nothing to do with the a finger. Carcassi doesn’t mark the right hand fingering but it is probably pim imi pim pim etc.
It’s interesting that again, as in no. 12, the chords are all very close together. It gives a good nicely structured effect.
This piece uses the ancient and splendid technique of campanelas, where an open string rings through changing chords, often high up on the fingerboard.
This is like a violinist playing scales (with an occasional intervention from a cellist). Nearly all the bass notes are open. And like a violinist having fun, it doesn’t stop!
In the dialogue passages (bars 9-12, 23-26), make sure that the final notes are damped and don’t ring on.
One of the longer pieces, this again goes on and on (with only a pause at bar 8 and a slight breather at bar 20). The pattern begins to change at bar 28, especially with the up-ending of the right hand pattern at bars 31 and 35.
To practise it, take it apart first. Play the bass line alone, then the top line alone. Then those two lines together. Only then add the repeated notes in the middle.
Bar 1: the original has 321 which is rather awkward and I have replaced it here with 312 which I prefer.
Bar 6: the original has 1124 which is rather awkward with its partial barré, and I have replaced it here with 1113 which I prefer.
Andante at this period means “with movement”, so not too slow.
The top part is lyrical, sustained. Make it sing. The frequent “hairpins” (accent or decrescendo marks) are very deliberate and indicate how this line is intended to be played. The lower part is like a series of thuds because of the rests which are exactly notated and should be observed. In nearly all places this is best done by using the m finger for all the top line and p i for the chords, placing p i back on the strings to dampen them. Perhaps Carcassi composed this piece as a study in étouffé.
In this piece it is a question of being ready for each chord in good time. The key of F, which is relatively uncommon in guitar music of that time, is unforgiving and does not help much with open strings. The melody in the treble should sing out unbroken.
The repeats are in the original editions but it may be suggested that they be regarded as optional.
For practice in octaves, alternating with wide-ranging arpeggios. A dazzling piece. It has big wide chord spacing, in contrast to earlier close-up pieces. Notice the careful and detailed dynamics towards the end.
A light and dazzling piece, this time in rapid triplets. To my mind, a clue to its sparkling nature is in the penultimate bar, where the chord whizzes up on a glissando (the only one in the piece).
Allegretto, fairly fast.
Like earlier pieces, an exercise in a lyrical sustained top voice combined with other material below.
Again probably nothing to do with the a finger. Rather, the bass with the thumb and the other notes mipi mipi etc.
Very fast, allegro brillante. Full of spirit, as the portamentos at bars 8, 18, 20 and 24 show, and the ending, full of panache, deliberately going up to the highest note of the whole op. 60 (to be heard only once more, at the end of the last piece, no. 25).
An exercise in slurs, which should be played lightly but very clearly throughout. It’s Andantino, which means “with movement”, so not too fast.
At the end of the middle section (bars 49-52) notice the diminuendo, the rallentando, the hairpin diminuendo, the descending notes, the pianissimo: five indications of a dynamic waiting effect at this point, so don’t miss it!
Another virtuoso scale piece, like a violinist, so like a violinist in fact that this time there isn’t even an accompanying bass. Very musical, very good.
More virtuoso scales, perhaps not quite so hard this time, and stabilized by a bass which takes on more interest in the middle section (bar 17 on).
A romantic piece, eloquent and varied. It seems to give a broader dimension to this part of Carcassi’s op. 60. Again, Andantino means with movement.
The tempo indications and dynamics are from the original edition and it is suggested that they be fully observed. In particular, from the end of bar 8 the tempo should be maintained at a good speed. The repeats are from the original edition, but it is suggested that they may be regarded as optional.
This long virtuoso piece, Allegro brillante, whose final chords resemble those of many a romantic symphony, brings op. 60 to an end. Perhaps op. 60 was intended to be performed as a complete set, in which case the flourish of the ending of this piece would serve to bring the performance to an end. Giuliani also does this, for example in his opp. 1, 48, 51, 98 and 100 (all in the new edition of Giuliani’s Complete Studies, TECLA 105). Sor, on the other hand, brings his groups of studies etc. to a position of repose at their end (opp. 6, 29, 31, 35, and 60 in his Complete Studies, TECLA 101).
BIOGRAPHY OF CARCASSI
There isn’t yet, as far as I know, a full biography of Carcassi based on primary evidence. A really good beginning was made by Mauro Mariottini in Il Fronimo of October 1999, in which he examined several primary sources as well as all the 19th and 20th century books and articles which gave details of his life. Much of the detail below comes from Mr. Mariottini’s work. But it would be very good to have more primary evidence, in order to fill in the gaps.
[Additional note November 2018: we now know Carcassi’s birth date. It was in Florence on 8 April 1796. This discovery was published in the article “Matteo Carcassi: un nuovo aggiornamento biografico” by Raffaele Carpino and Mario Dell’Ara in Il Fronimo no. 184 of October 2018.]
It seems that Carcassi fought with the French in the Napoleonic Wars, for his obituary in the Journal des Débats of 20 January 1853 said “[il] avait fait de la France, qu’il avait servie comme soldat, sa patrie adoptive et de prédilection.” (“He had made of France, which he had served as a soldier, his adopted and favourite country”). He then settled in Paris, and that seems to have been by 1816 at the latest because his name, as resident in Paris, figures in a list of subscribers to Molino’s Nouvelle Méthode pour la Guitare in its French edition which was published in the period 1814 to 1816. In 1820 Gardeton’s Annales of that year listed him as resident at 8 rue Grange-Batelière, which is still there, now rue de la Grange Batelière, just a few minutes walk from the centre, off the present rue du Faubourg Montmartre. One wonders whether, if he had fought for France, he was in receipt of a military pension, and perhaps research in the French military archives might give some details.
At the same time he began publishing. The earliest known date for this is 1820, in which year again in Gardeton’s Annales there is a mention of Six Walses by him, which is likely to be his op. 4. He published several (perhaps all) of his earliest works himself, including op. 4 of which a copy of an edition published by him is in the British Library. By 1822 he was publishing with Meissonnier, for a Meissonnier edition of his Trois rondo op. 2 can be dated 1822 or shortly before by the publisher’s address (for the dating of Meissonnier editions, see my book Fernando Sor Composer and Guitarist, second edition, pages 64-66).
Accompanying Mr. Mariottini’s article in Il Fronimo of October 1999 is a bibliography of his works compiled by Mario Dell’Ara, to which I have been able to add many details. The works with opus number go up to op. 77. His Méthode complète pour la Guitare, op. 59, first published in Paris in 1836, became very famous. He also wrote guitar accompaniments to many French songs of the period, probably hundreds of them (for I have seen several which are not in Mr. Dell’Ara’s list), in which the accompaniment is frankly usually not very distinguished, and one wonders whether making those guitar accompaniments for publishers was perhaps principally a source of income for him.
He gave many concerts, probably at least twice in London including a concert at the Argyle Rooms for which Domingo Prat (Diccionario de Guitarristas, 1934) gives the date of 30 June 1828 (but without saying where he got the date from), at least one tour of Germany perhaps in 1824, and Prat says that he toured Italy in 1836. He died in Paris on 16 January 1853.
At its best his music shows a good gift for melody and is well constructed. My own favourites are the Six Caprices op. 26 (available from Tecla) and these Etudes, op. 60.
THE PUBLISHING HISTORY OF CARCASSI’S ETUDES
A note in Carcassi’s Méthode (page 99) refers to the “études Op. 60 faisant suite à cet ouvrage”, so we must assume that the Etudes op. 60 had either been completed or were in an advanced state of composition at the date of publication of the method which was in April 1836 or shortly before. Yet no edition of the Etudes earlier than 1851 has been found. The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris has no edition of them earlier than the Brandus edition, which because of the publisher’s address must date from 1851 or later. One might suppose that perhaps the Brandus edition was merely a later issue of an earlier edition most probably published by Troupenas or by Carcassi and Troupenas together, since Brandus bought Troupenas’ stock in 1850 (see Devriès & Lesure, Dictionnaire des Editeurs de Musique Français, II (de 1820 à 1914), Geneva, 1988). Yet if that had been so, one would have expected to find a copy of that earlier Troupenas edition in the Bibliothèque Nationale where it would almost certainly have been deposited, and no such copy is to be found. Because of that absence, it seems likely that the Brandus edition is in fact the earliest edition, and if so we are left with the unexplained mystery of why, the Etudes having been announced in 1836 (or shortly before), they were not published until 1851 (or later). If one day a copy of an earlier edition is found, then the mystery will have been solved; but until then, no such earlier edition is known. – I am very grateful to Mary Criswick, who kindly visited the Bibliothèque Nationale for me, looked up the early editions there, and sent me the details.
A Schott edition exists as well as the Brandus, and this Schott edition can be dated by its plate number at about 1852-53. Indeed, the title-page of the Brandus edition gives as publishers not only Paris, Brandus, but also “Mayence, les Fils de B. Schott”. This shows that whatever the publishing arrangement was, Schott was a part of it, as they already often had been with Carcassi’s music in the past which was often published more or less simultaneously by one or other Paris publisher and also by Schott. So it is that in the case of the Etudes op. 60, very shortly after Brandus or at the same time, Schott brought out their own edition, newly engraved. It has every appearance of having been copied from the Brandus edition, but with some care because some accidentals missing in the Brandus have here been added, and some (not all) of the errors in the fingering have been corrected. It is also possible, though I think less likely, that both editions were separately newly engraved but from the same manuscript. For this present edition, both the Brandus and the Schott editions have been consulted in detail.
So, if the Etudes op. 60 existed already in 1836, why were they not published until the 1850s? One hypothesis is that Carcassi may have kept them unpublished during his lifetime for reasons unknown (perhaps something to do with teaching), and that when he died suddenly in January 1853, somebody, perhaps his heir or heirs, rushed to publish the work. The chosen publishers were Brandus and Schott. Until more is known, this is only a theory. If it is true, it might explain why the fingering was so bad. Perhaps the manuscript had no fingering and the publishers commissioned someone, perhaps a pupil of Carcassi, to finger the work. But again, this is only guesswork.
25 études mélodiques progressives composées pour la guitare … Op: 60. Pr: 10f. Paris. Brandus et Cie., 103 Rue Richelieu, et 40 Rue Vivienne. Mayence, les Fils de B. Schott. No plate number. 25 pages.
[British Library, h.257.b.(5.). Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, two copies: L.11.977 and Cu 111. London, collection of the late Robert Spencer, probably now in the Royal Academy of Music, London. A copy was in the Tiscornia collection. (A modern reprint of the catalogue of the Tiscornia collection is available from Fine Fretted String Instruments in California, www.finefretted.com). Possibly the British Library copy listed above is in fact the Tiscornia copy.]
Brandus moved to 103 rue Richelieu on 15 January 1851 (Devriès & Lesure, Dictionnaire des Editeurs de Musique Français, II (de 1820 à 1914), Geneva, 1988), so this edition (or this issue of this edition) must date from after that. It may date from 1853 (see above).
A new re-engraved edition of the Brandus edition was published by Chanterelle in 1985. However, that Chanterelle edition has a problem in that it says that “the original fingering and notation are all retained and nothing has been added (save for a few precautionary accidentals) or removed”, but in fact when you examine the Chanterelle edition you can see that that is not the case, and that in reality fingering has been added: for example at no. 2 bars 3 and 4 the Chanterelle edition has fingering but there is no trace of any fingering at that place in the Brandus edition (at least, not in the British Library copy of the Brandus edition which I have examined).
Op. 60 25 études mélodiques et progressives. Ire suite de la méthode. Mayence : B. Schott’s Söhne. Pl. no. 11423. 25 pages.
[London, collection of Brian Jeffery. Copenhagen, Royal Library, Rischel 899 and 980 (two copies).]
Dated by plate number by O.E. Deutsch, Musikverlagsnummern, Berlin, 1961, at c. 1852-53. In fact its date may be 1853 (see above).
In about 1890 an edition appeared in the USA entitled 25 melodious studies for guitar, then in about 1908 Vahdah Olcott Bickford’s edition appeared entitled 25 melodious and progressive studies for guitar. (I met Vahdah Bickford when she kindly came to a talk which I gave to the American Guitar Society, in Northridge, California. She was then very old but full of charm and vivacity, and wore a rose in her hair.) In 1914 Miguel Llobet published an edition with new fingering, very carefully done but using modern technique, for example using the a finger a great deal. Since then there have been other editions of the 25 Etudes. All of these probably took their text from either the Brandus or the Schott editions, usually probably from the Schott.
In editing this music I had to make a decision about what to do about the fingering, because both the original editions present many problems in their fingering, in fact so many problems and downright mistakes that one finds it hard to believe that that fingering was made by Carcassi. I would guess that it was made by a guitarist of the time who knew Carcassi’s system of fingering very well, but who frankly was not very good. So in this edition I have kept the original fingering but have also done the following:
1) I have corrected the errors and also some places where the original fingering was terrible (and stated chapter and verse in the commentary where I have made any changes at all).
2) In a very few places I have thought it worth while to add some fingering but ONLY for practical elucidation of the original fingering and very sparsely, for example in no. 2 bar 2. All the fingerings which I have added are in square brackets or are noted in the commentary (so if you don’t like them you can ignore them).
What I have not done is to add any new fingerings of my own. In this edition you have only the original text, apart from the items just noted. It means that beginners and anyone else can use the fingering given here with confidence. Any advanced user who has questions can look in the commentary.
Also, you are not obstructed by other modern fingerings which often assume a modern technique which, whatever its merits, is not the same technique as that used at the time when this music was written. The original technique in my experience is easier than modern technique and is perfectly practical today for this music. The technique changed over 150 years in various ways, as is described above. All the fingering in this edition is the fingering of Carcassi’s time (see above).
WHICH EDITION TO USE?
Which edition of Carcassi’s op. 60 is best to use? There are so many available. It depends on what your approach is. My own personal approach to playing this music is to use the text of the composer and to use the technique of the period. It’s very easy because the technique and the music are then in harmony with each other (lime mortar…). It’s just naturally right. Here in this guitar music, for example, I personally find that using imim a great deal on the upper strings rather than the a finger, and using the right hand thumb a lot even up to the top two strings, especially in scale passages in alternation with the index finger (pipi), somehow suits the music.
So in my opinion, a very simple edition is best which gives the original text but where any editorial problems have already been dealt with. That is what this present edition aims to provide.
The music in this edition was engraved by Alexander V. Trukhin.