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#59 Chorei

Been indoors all day rehearsing. As I got home and the sun was still out, I couldn’t help and went for a bike ride. Not only was it too cold, but at some point, tears started dropping for no reason and I couldn’t open my eyes. Air was too chill? Staring straight at the sun? … Continue reading #59 Chorei

#58 Ernest Shand

The guitar has always been my true love, and although I have been having an affair with the mandolin in the past few years, I just can’t help myself and fell in love with the Portugues guitar. As I was busying looking for the method, A Complete Method for Portuguese Guitarra by Havelock on the … Continue reading #58 Ernest Shand

#57 The Lick

Made some long drives over the weekend with my buddy Mike, and as the driver, he also had full control of what we listened to. He showed me a live reggae show that he enjoys: Rockpalast Live 2019 by Richie Spice and the Element Band. While I loved how tight the band and the arrangement … Continue reading #57 The Lick

#52 Jules, why? – 3

(Continue from Jules, why? – 2) Giulio Regondi did not leave us a guitar method. Just for fun, I looked a bit at his New Method for the Concertina and Rudimenti del Concertinista, hoping it might give hint of his musical insights. Maybe even an explanation of why a guitar virtuoso picked up the concertina? … Continue reading #52 Jules, why? – 3

#50 Jules, why? – 2

(continue from Jules, Why? – 1) Another mystery about Regondi: why did he pick up the concertina? And, if he needed a second instrument, why the concertina? It’s so unfair: Regondi ended up writing two concerti and a method book for the concertina, but not for the guitar. (At least there are pictures of young … Continue reading #50 Jules, why? – 2

#49 Jules, why? – 1

One of the most beloved pieces in the classical guitar repertoire is the tremolo standard, Reverie, Op.19, by Giulio Regondi (1823-1872). I have mentioned him a bit in previous posts, where I talked about the first tremolo piece and Madame Sidney Pratten. With much delay, I have finally decided to collect my thoughts and write … Continue reading #49 Jules, why? – 1

#48 “I cannot teach you, only help you to explore yourself, nothing more”

Two days ago was Bruce Lee’s birthday. He would have been 80 years old. Once a year, I watch his interview on the Pierre Burton Show around his birthday to remind myself of his sayings. He might be know as a kung fu movie superstar, but he was a true artist. Every word from the … Continue reading #48 “I cannot teach you, only help you to explore yourself, nothing more”

#45 Hong Kong 1980

Last October, I attended my first annual convention organized by the Classical Mandolin Society of America. It was the 22nd or 23rd convention, held in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. I had to arrive late, as I had to finish my teaching in the morning. The drive was 11 hours long, and it took me through Pennsylvania, Ohio, … Continue reading #45 Hong Kong 1980

#44 1959

When studying for my doctoral comprehensive exam, I looked up a bunch of Youtube videos. How nice would it be if I can study by watching a Youtube video? That was just wishful thinking, but I did come across a lot of cool music documentaries. One of them was 1959 The Year that Changed Jazz. … Continue reading #44 1959

#43 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #8 Her students – Arthur Froane, Albert F. Cramer

(portrait of Arthur Froane) (continue from Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #7) In Stewart Button’s thesis, Guitar in England 1800-1924, Arthur Froane (1861-?) is part of chapter four – The Pupils of Ernest Shand and Madame Sidney Pratten. It wasn’t clear if Froane was a student of Madame Pratten. Froane was more likely a … Continue reading #43 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #8 Her students – Arthur Froane, Albert F. Cramer

#42 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #7 Her students – Walter and John Lindsey Leckie, Frank Mott Harrison, Edith Tulloch

(picture: last known portait of Madame Pratten with Dr. Walter Leckie) (continue from Reminscences of Madame Sidney Pratten #6) Apart from Ernest Shand, I tried looking up as much as I could about other students of Madame Pratten. I have mentioned about Dr. Walter Leckie and Dr. John Lindsay Leckie, whom I have learned much … Continue reading #42 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #7 Her students – Walter and John Lindsey Leckie, Frank Mott Harrison, Edith Tulloch

#41 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #6 Her students – Ernest Shand

(Continue from Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten #5) School has just started and I am quite happy. I missed teaching. I always want to know what other teachers do, learn their tricks, and make my teaching more fun. A glimpse into Madame Pratten’s teaching can’t come more timely: Be flexible, systematic, have integrety, and encouraging… … Continue reading #41 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #6 Her students – Ernest Shand

#39 First time

Do you remember when was the first time you swear? Growing up, my brother and I watched a lot of TV. Not only that, we would record movies on VHS and rewatch them over and over. The Back to the Future I was part of that rotation. Not too bad if I learned my first … Continue reading #39 First time

#38 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #4 – Frederick Hymen Cowen

(Continue from Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #3) Chapter 3 of the book provded details to a few concerts Madame Pratten played after the passing of her husband. One of them describes her playing Giuliani’s third concert for terz guitar, with the piano accompaniment by Giuliani’s niece: As mentioned in my previous post, it … Continue reading #38 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #4 – Frederick Hymen Cowen

#36 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #3 Robert

(Continuing from Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #2) Robert Sidney Pratten was a talented flautist and a perfect match for Mademe Pratten. Unfortenately, he died quite young – at the age of 44, after 14 years of marriage with Mademe Sidney Pratten. Would they have played (or even performed) as a flute/guitar duo? If … Continue reading #36 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #3 Robert

#35 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #2 the Crimean War

(Continuing from Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #1) Many people teach, but not many begins teaching at the age of 17, and even less would have their apartment being paid for! There is a detailed wikipedia page on the life of Lord Fotzroy Somerset, who was the commander of the British troops in Crimean … Continue reading #35 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #2 the Crimean War

#34 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #1 child prodigies, the terz guitar

From Wikipedia, “Catharina Josepha Pratten (15 November 1824* – 1895) was a German guitar virtuoso, composer and teacher, also known as Madame Sidney Pratten.  She was born Catharina Josepha Pelzer in Mülheim on the 15 November 1824, the daughter of the German guitarist and music teacher Ferdinand Pelzer.  On 24 September 1854, she married the … Continue reading #34 Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten – #1 child prodigies, the terz guitar

#32 All By Myself

Over the years, I have compiled a list of music called “music that makes me cry”. On the top of the list is Glenn Gould’s arrangement of the Prelude to Act 1 of Meistersinger by Wagner. Toward the end of the piece, Gould overdubbed a second piano part to the prelude. In a Rolling Stone … Continue reading #32 All By Myself

#30 Jean François Salomon, the harpolyre, guitar playing and singing

(Picture: Harpo-lyre (ca.1830), André Augustin Chevrier, The Met, NYC) The following entry of Jean Francois Salomon is taken from François-Joseph Fétis’s Biographie universelle des musiciens (see the original on p.387 of the this PDF). This is translated with the help of the trusty Google Translate, so… please pardon my French. I have also attached Salomon’s … Continue reading #30 Jean François Salomon, the harpolyre, guitar playing and singing

#29 Pasquale Taraffo

In the process of figuring out who was the “Paganin of the guitar“, I came across the Italian guitarist Pasquale Taraffo (1887-1937). I am always skeptical of what were the criteria for a guitarist to be called the Paganini of the guitar. Apart from his virtuosity, Taraffo shared at least two more things with Paganini … Continue reading #29 Pasquale Taraffo

#28 Berlioz, La guitare

(The Berlioz picture looks a bit like this Schumann picture?) In my previous post, I wrote about the French music critic François-Joseph Fétis disliked the guitar as an instrument. As a contemporary to Fétis, Hector Berlioz also wrote about the guitar in his Treatise on Instrumentation and Modern Orchestration (1843-1844). There was bad blood between … Continue reading #28 Berlioz, La guitare

#25 The Paganini of guitar

The guitar in the picture: early romantic guitar (Paris around 1830) by Jean-Nicolas Grobert (1794-1869). Instrument top shows signatures of Paganini and Berlioz. The guitar was loaned to Paganini by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in 1838 and later given by Vuillaume to Berlioz, who later donated it to the Musée du Conservatoire de musique in 1866. Today … Continue reading #25 The Paganini of guitar

#22 First tremolo piece for classical guitar? – #1

Tremolo on classical guitar is a special technique. It creates a “continuous” sound by repeating a particular right hand fingering pattern: thumb (p) -> ring finger (a) -> middle finger (m) -> index finger (i). The thumb arpeggiates notes in the bass register, and the other three fingers repeat on the same note. Recuerdos de … Continue reading #22 First tremolo piece for classical guitar? – #1

#19 Stage Fright

After many years of performing, I still can’t get over the nerves. I don’t feel as nervous in a band setting. But it still gets me when I perform solo on classical guitar. In a way, I like it. It gives me a hyper sense of focus. It’s just that my hands shake a bit … Continue reading #19 Stage Fright

#17 Gnossienne #1 by Erik Satie

I have always loved the guitar arrangement of Gnossienne #1 by Roland Dyens. A really cool reggae version came from Adelante (would Satie have loved it?). It is also arranged as the Azuma No theme in Beat Takeshi’s Violent Cop. Maybe it would work for a mandolin orchestra too?

#14 Guitar de Mexico – Dona-Dio Quartet

I love this record. The arrangements are amazing. And a quartet versoin of Recuerdos is just epic… But I couldn’t find much info about the quartet. There’s a short writeup of the album from the 1960’s Billboard: “Low price Latin American”?! Apparently, records were categorized by genres, and their potential to sell: “very strong sales … Continue reading #14 Guitar de Mexico – Dona-Dio Quartet

#13 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings – a mandolin orchestra from Rochester?

Amongst the instructional vinyls/booklets from the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the Mandolin Instruction: Old Time, Country & Fiddle Tunes by Michael Holmes is worth a separate post, because it contains a picture of a mandolin group from Rochester in 1927! I was told by Mr. John Bernunzio – owner of Bernunzio Uptown Music, that the mandolin … Continue reading #13 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings – a mandolin orchestra from Rochester?

#9 Tito Livio De Madrazo

Checking out some guitar music, and I was captured by the above image – the portriat of Manuel Sarrablo y Clavero, by T.L. de Madrazo. The style was so cool! Couldn’t find much on the internet. Tito Livio de Madrazo (1899-1979s) was a Spanish artist, whose works worth a lot. Here is a site with … Continue reading #9 Tito Livio De Madrazo

#4 Fluke

fluke2[ flook ] noun an accidental advantage; stroke of good luck: He got the job by a fluke. an accident or chance happening. an accidentally successful stroke, as in billiards. what my friends from my teenage years might call me. (from dictionary.com) They don’t actually call me “fluke”, but rather, they would call me fluke … Continue reading #4 Fluke

#2 Ken, Kenny, Kenji, Kenneth, Kendall, Kennedy, Kentucky, Kenjamin

“What’s your name?” “Ken.” “What? Come on, tell me your real name.” Although the story of how I acquired my English name seemed a bit forced, I have come to liking my name gradually, and today I am still called Ken. It’s simple, crisp, and easy to remember (or easy to forget). A few of … Continue reading #2 Ken, Kenny, Kenji, Kenneth, Kendall, Kennedy, Kentucky, Kenjamin

#1 – Ken, or Gibson?

It’s extremely common for people from Hong Kong to have a Chinese and an English name, but I didn’t have an English name till 17. I just happened to have not picked an English name when I was young. I knew my dad always liked the name “Henry”, but it didn’t click for me (once … Continue reading #1 – Ken, or Gibson?