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Canarios , by Gaspar Sanz, is a favorite among classical guitarists. It's vibrant and full of energy. And one of the best things about it is that it sounds great whether you play it at a manageable medium tempo or call on your inner virtuoso to play it like a bat out of hell. It's a wonderful piece for concerts, gigs, and plain old self-satisfaction. Speaking of gigs, it's especially effective as the recessional for weddings.
You will find many versions of the piece. I am providing four of my favorites. Two are in dropped-D tuning, and two in standard tuning. But the wonderful thing is that you can mix and match the four arrangements. If you don't like measure X in one arrangement, you can grab a version of that measure that you like from another arrangement and insert it. Plus, some versions have a rasgueado section, but others don't. I like the rasgueados and provide you with several options to play them.
You can insert the rasgueados into any version. The strummed, rasgueado style was an important component of playing the Baroque guitar which is the instrument for which Canarios was composed , and it is entirely appropriate and stylistically correct to include a strumming section in Canarios.
An essential element to understand in the performance of Canarios is the hemiola rhythm. You can interpret some measures either way. If you don't play the changes of meter correctly, the piece will fall flat.
John Williams' arrangement is the version I learned first. It sounds good on the modern guitar and is very playable. However, I would suggest you insert a rasgueado section to crank it up even more! The fingerings are my best guess. Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Williams plays. Click the white arrow on each page of music to advance to the next page.
This arrangement is an excellent version written by the American guitar virtuoso, Christopher Parkening.
His version includes a rasgueado section, but you can also substitute any of the other rasgueado options I provide below. Parkening includes it in his outstanding collection, Christopher Parkening Solo Pieces. Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Parkening plays. I love Julian Bream's very free adaptation of the piece. It is unique and charming. But, try adding a rasgueado section to kick it up a notch. The fingerings are my best-guess. Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Bream plays.
I only recently became familiar with Bonell's version. He includes a delightful section that he uses as an introduction and interlude. Start the video and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Bonell plays. Be sure to also listen to the piece played on the baroque guitar. It sounds very different than on a modern guitar. See the information below to understand why. Here are two versions of Canarios performed on the baroque guitar.
I think his rasgueado section is excellent and I show you how to play it in the rasgueado section below. Here is a video of the Russian early music ensemble "La Campanella" dancing the Canarios. The Canario is thought to have originated from Spain where it is regarded as the father of the jota.
Supposedly, it was derived from a dance done by the natives of the Canary Islands. It is likely, however, that the European version of the dance as shown here was a highly stylized version of what the original explorers had seen.
It probably bears little resemblance to what the Atlantic Islanders actually danced. Canaries were done as improvised dances. Dancers were encouraged to either choreograph their own variations and perform them, or to perform impromptu variations.
Emphasis was placed on showing vigour and athleticism in performing the dance. Included in the downloads is a PDF of rasgueado options for Canarios. As I mentioned above, inserting rasgueados into Canarios is historically appropriate and stylistically correct. Not to mention, a lot of fun!
For even more information about rasgueado technique, see my technique tip, Rasgueados, Part 1. Be sure to watch this free minute video tutorial to gain a thorough understanding of the rhythms, right-hand fingerings, and right-hand technique.
Here are the topics and timestamps not clickable in the video, including the clips where I perform the various options. Here is Canarios in the original tablature. The manuscript is included in the free sheet music download. The complete manuscript is included in the free sheet music download. When we play Canarios on a modern guitar, it bears little resemblance to how Gaspar Sanz intended it to sound on the Baroque guitar. Well, of course, the instrument is different. The Baroque guitar that Sanz played has "five strings" actually nine, but more on that in a moment , and is smaller with an oblong shape.
The primary pitches of the strings of the Baroque guitar are the same as our modern instrument—from high to low pitches:. The first string was a single string. But the rest of the strings were pairs of strings we call them "courses" like on a modern string guitar. The tuning and stringing varied from player to player and country to country. Therefore, Sanz's Baroque guitar was essentially a treble register instrument with a delicate and sweet sound.
It did not have boomy or resonant bass strings. And, as a result of the re-entrant tuning of the 5th course and the octave tuning of the fourth course, transcriptions for the modern guitar transpose some of the notes that fall on those strings up or down an octave from what Sanz intended.
Plus, some transcriptions, such as those by John Williams and Christopher Parkening, add the 6th string tuned down to D to add resonance and volume to the sound. So, when we play an arrangement of Canarios with our fat 4th and 5th wound bass strings and sometimes even with our 6th string tuned down to D, the sound bears no resemblance to what Sanz intended on the Baroque guitar.
Is this bad? If you are trying to be authentic, absolutely. But if you want to capture the drive, vitality, and invigorating dance rhythms of the piece in a more powerful manner, with distinct treble and bass voices, you can certainly make a case for adapting the piece for our modern instrument. He studied music, theology, and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the Baroque guitar that form an important part of today's classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of Baroque guitar playing.
He spent some years as the organist of the Spanish Viceroy at Naples. Sanz learned to play guitar while studying under Lelio Colista and was influenced by the music of the Italian guitarists Foscarini, Granata, and Corbetta.
The ninety works in this masterpiece are his only known contribution to the repertory of the guitar and include compositions in both punteado "plucked" style and rasqueado "strummed" style. Gaspar Sanz was also noted in his day for his literary works as a poet and writer. He was the author of some poems and two books now largely forgotten. His excellent translation of the celebrated L'huomo di lettere by Jesuit Daniello Bartoli first appeared in , with further editions in and The difficulty of playing Canarios depends on how fast you play it.
The great thing is that it sounds fantastic whether you play it at a slower, manageable tempo or very fast. On a modern guitar, you can play Canarios with standard tuning or dropped-D tuning. Yes, rasgueados are entirely historically appropriate and stylistically correct to include in any arrangement of Canarios. But, if you are not satisfied with a course, I will refund your money. Just tell me why you did not like it so I can make it better for others.
Douglas Niedt is a seasoned, successful concert and recording artist and highly respected master classical guitar teacher with 50 years of teaching experience. Therefore, Doug provides solutions for you from a variety of perspectives and schools of thought. He gives accurate, reliable advice that has been tested in performance on the concert stage that will work for you at home.
Listen to John Williams play Canarios Your browser does not support the audio element. View the sheet music. Your browser does not support the video tag. Strumming notation. Change the Meter, Alternative 1. Why Canarios played on the modern 6-string guitar bears no resemblance whatsoever to how Sanz intended it to sound on the Baroque guitar.
But the main reason the music sounds so different on the Baroque guitar is its tuning. Here is the tuning of the Baroque guitar that Sanz preferred: Course 1: a single string tuned to E. Course 2: a pair of strings tuned to unison B's. Course 3: a pair of strings tuned to unison G's.
Sanz, Gaspar – Canarios
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