Justin M. Holland “The Guitar”

Published by Robert Coldwell on

A few years ago I found 14 pages of lined paper with articles pasted on them in a folder titled “Clippings Justin Holland 1887” in the Bickford Collection at California State University Northridge. The articles were titled “The Guitar” and included interesting topics on Sor, Carulli, Carcassi, Molino and answers to reader letters. A typescript also in this folder contains transcriptions of some of these articles and articles from other guitar journals. Based on these two items I was able to track down these articles to Brainard’s Musical World January – December 1888.

Articles and dissertations on Justin Holland (1819-1887) are available, but very little has been written on Justin Minor Holland (1848-1917). I have gathered some details on his life and guitar collection which I will post separately since the text for “The Guitar” is quite long.

Keep in mind the dates these articles were published. Holland had great access music and books still in print. The amount of information he had is quite amazing, but do not take his information as more correct than modern research. Holland had some unusual things to say about the travels of Sor and Giuliani.

Vol. XXV, No. 1, Whole No. 289, January, 1888, p. 35

The Guitar

Address all communications pertaining to this department to Justin M. Holland, care S. Brainard’s Sons, Cleveland. 


The guitar is an instrument of great antiquity, and its history can be traced back to the typical “nefer” of the fourth Egyptian dynasty, the fretted fingerboard of which permitted the production of different notes by the shortening of the string. The identity of the name with the Greek kisapa is not to be doubted, but the resemblance of the guitar of today to the ancient Greek instrument seems too remote to imply derivation. The Spanish guitar is the most generally known modern representative of the numerous family, which includes also the zithers and lutes. It probably developed directly from the Arabian El Aud, which came into extended use about 270 A. D. The El Aud was fashioned partly like the Greek Instrument before alluded to, and partly like the old finger-board instruments of the Assyrians and Egyptians. These latter instruments were probably independent inventions in both countries. To the finger-board instrument the Arabian added the resonance cavity peculiar to the kiopa, in the form of a turtle shell, from which the instrument took its name of El Aud. The German appellation “laute” and the English “lute” are derived from this name.

The place of manufacture of the first modern guitar is unknown, but it is assumed that it was produced in Spain and modeled after the El Aud. The bitter war of races in Spain from 710 to 1274 caused a total disappearance of Arabian art in that country and led to the invention of the modern guitar. Though the manufacturers had been expelled or killed, the El Aud had continued as an important factor of everyday life. The mild climate of Spain, favorable to open air music, the romantic spirit of the people, the habit of giving expression to the emotions through song, all required an instrument easily handled and adapted to accompanying the voice. These requirements were found in the El Aud, and the guitar became its successor, but only at the end of the sixteen century had the latter assumed its normal form and become known in France and Italy. It was then essentially the guitar of today. Its body consisted of a level bottom and top, with cross pieces at right angles. The sides of the body had, similar to the bow instruments then developing, bends inward in the middle, between which was placed the sound-hole. The attachment of the strings and the quality of the finger-board were such as those of the poorer guitars of today, only with less attachments and less strings. The El Aud, in its primitive form, had only four strings, while the first guitars had five, of which the two lowest were struck with the thumb, and the others with the first three fingers of the right hand.

The guitar having come into general use in Spain and Italy was brought into Germany in the year 1788 by the Duchess Amelia of Weimar. During the succeeding ten years, John August Otto of Vienna was the only imitator of the imported instruments. He added a sixth string which was universally adopted. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the popularity of the guitar in Germany, as in Spain, France and Italy, amounted to almost a craze, and the instrument was in the hands of high and low, rich and poor.

A number of attempts have been made to improve the guitar by the addition of lower strings, key-board attachments, etc., and music has been written and published for instruments with eight and ten strings. No permanent changes have been made, however, and the guitar is today substantially the same instrument as was made by John August Otto in the latter part of the last century. 


P. H. L. writes: “I am about to purchase a terz guitar, and wish to know something about the instrument; how it is tuned in relation to the larger guitar; also the titles of some music for the two instruments, and from whom it can be obtained.”

The “terz” is a smaller guitar tuned a minor third above the larger instrument, and is used particularly for playing the leading parts in duos for guitar and piano. The strings being shorter, the terz guitar is of very brilliant tone, and it was with this instrument that the eminent guitarist Giuliani accomplished some of his greatest triumphs.

The pitch of A, the open fifth string of the terz guitar, may be obtained from C, at third fret of the fifth string of the larger guitar, or from C of the piano; or C of the third fret of the terz, may be tuned from an A tuning fork. The pitch of the fifth string having thus been obtained, the other strings should be tuned from it, bearing in mind that the strings of the smalller guitar are tuned in relation to each other the same as if it were a larger instrument.

The following music is recommended tor the two instruments:

  • Diabelli, A., Orpheus. Melodische Satze zur Bildung des Vertrages und Geschmackes, books 1 to 12.
  • Giuliani, M., Op. 66, 3 Rondeaux; Op. 69, La Lira Notturna.
  • Mertz, J. K., Op. 51, Due sur Alessandre Stradella.
  • Muller, J. J., Op. 3, Potpourri sur Le Freischutz; 4, Potpourri sur La Muette de Portici; 5, Potpourri sur Fra Diavolo; 33, Potpourri sur I Puritani.

The above music can be procured through our publishers.

L. O., St. Paul, Minn., writes: “My object in communicating is to inquire whether there are exercises or pieces in B, E. A flat written for guitar and to be had in the United States. I would also ask to be furnished with a list of pieces for concert room.”

The following exercises will afford practice in the “flat keys”:

  • Carulli, F., Op.114, L’Utile et Agreable, 48 preludes et 24 morceaux.
  • De Fossa, F., Op. 5, Fantaisie pour Guitar Seule.
  • De Fossa, F., Op. 11, Les Adieux a l’Espagne.
  • Giuliani, M., Op. 100, Etudes Instructives, Faciles et Agreables.
  • Praeger, H., Op. 48, Suite des Exercises.
  • Sor, F., Op. 11. Deux Themes varies et douze menuets.
  • Sor, F., Op. 25, Deuxime Grande Sonate.
  • Sor, F., Op. 25, Deuxime Grande Sonate.
  • Sor, F., Op. 29, Douze Etudes.

For concert pieces the following are recommended as being brilliant and not too difficult:

  • Sor, F., Op, 9. O Dolce Concento.
  • Sor, F., Op., March du Ballet de Cendrillon.
  • Carcassi, M., Op. 38. Le Dieu et la Bayaders.
  • Holland, J., Home, Sweet Home.
  • Holland. J., Carnival of Venice.
  • Mertz, J. K., Op. 17, Die Zigeunerin (Bohemian Girl).

Our publishers have a portion of this music in stock and will order the balance from Europe, i f you so request.

We have received a programme of a guitar recital given at St. Paul, Minn., December 7, as follows:


Duo pour deux Guitares, Overture de Otello………………… Rossini

Messrs. Roebuck and Buchmann.

Duo pour Guitare et Flute, Nocturne Concerto in A moll.. …………. Burgmuller 

Messrs. Buchmann and Couch.

Solo, Le Gondolier, Op. 65 …………………………… Mertz

Mr. A. M. Buchmann.

Duo. Rondeau pour deux Guitares, sur la Barcarolle Favorite de Fiorella ………………… Carulli

Trio for Guitars ……………….. Amateur

Messrs. Buchmann, Roebuck and Harpman.

Duo pour Piano Forte et Guitar, Serenade, Op. 76…………………..L. de Call

Mrs. J. Harpman and Mr. J. W. Roebuck.

Solo, Fantaisie varies sur le Carnaval de Venice…………. Holland et Ferranti

Mr. J. W. Roebuck.

Duo pour Guitare et Flute, Serenade, Op. 109 ……………. Carulli 

Messrs. Roebuck and Couch.

Duo pour deux Guitares, Alessandro Stradella ………………. Mertz 

Messrs. Buchmann and Roebuck.

Trio pour 3 Guitares, Op. 26 ………….. L. de Call

Mr. Buchmann is wen known in Cleveland, and was the first president of the Cleveland Guitar Club, which was organized in July, 1884. He took a prominent part in the first chamber recital of the club, given December 11, 1884. Mr. Buchmann was a pupil of the late Prof. Justin Holland and is a fine performer on the guitar. Mr. Roebuck is also well known in this part of the state as an excellent guitarist. He resides in Canton, and is the possessor of one of the largest private collections of guitar music in this country.


This department is prepared at all times to fill orders for Guitars, Guitar Strings, Instruction Books, and everything and anything used by Guitarists, on short notice, at the very lowest prices consistent with reliable goods. 

Guitar Strings.

Among our Stock of Strings we might mention the “Criterion,” a first-class article, and one which has been sold extensively, and become a great favorite, and the “Standard Russian Gut,” an extra fine String, which is made expressly for the use of Guitarists, who desire the best to be found.

Our Bass Strings are of the best American manufacture, and can be furnished wound on Silk or Silk and Steel; an excellent article.

We also carry a Line of Compounds, and Silver-Plated Steel Strings (Single and on Spools). 

Persons In ordering will please state whether Finished or Unfinished Strings are desired. Write for prices.

Guitar Methods.

As for Instruction Books, we may bring to your notice Holland’s Method for the Guitar. This Celebrated Method has become the invaluable companion of all Guitarists, professional and amateur. It is the work of one of the best Guitarists in the world, and is an improvement on all other Methods of teaching this sweet instrument. It is famous for its progressive arrangement. adaptation, simplicity and thoroughness. The book contains many beautiful Gems of Guitar Music by the best writers. Guitar players should send for one at once. Mailed post-paid on receipt of $2.50.

Carcassi’s Guitar Method.

This Standard Method for the Guitar, edited by Justin Holland, the celebrated Guitarist, is the only correct edition of the foreign work, and contains numerous additions and notes. It is used by the best teachers in this country and Europe, and a standard authority on all matters pertaining to the Instrument. Order only Brainard’s New and Improved Edition. Price. Complete, $3.00; Abridged, $2.00.

The Criterion Guitar.

If you want the Best Guitar In the World, an instrument without an equal for depth, breadth, power and sweetness of tone, one that in the hands of a performer will fill your room with music, get the “Criterion Guitar.” There are hundreds of cheaper and many higher in price, but none equal to this favorite instrument. Every Genuine Instrument has the name of S. Brainard’s Sons and the word “Criterion” plainly stamped on the inside. Warranted perfect and not to check or split. Write for prices.

Vol. XXV, No. 2, Whole No. 290, February, 1888, p. 50

The Guitar

Address all communications pertaining to this department to Justin M. Holland, care S. Brainard’s Sons, Cleveland. 


Tins renowned guitarist was born at Madrid, April 8th, 1784, son of a notary of the ecclesiastic vicar of that city. His early education was acquired at the college of Madrid, where a monk taught him the first principles of the guitar, but it was to the celebrated Garcia, then unknown in France and Italy, that Aguado was indebted for a knowledge of the wonderful resources of the Instrument and the combinations of harmony which it is capable of producing. On the death of his father in 1803, Aguado inherited a small property in the village of Fuentabiada, where he retired with his mother during the French occupation, and giving himself up exclusively to the study of the guitar, developed the system of fingering and harmonic effects which were afterwards set forth in his excellent method. His mother died in 1824, and the next year he went to Paris, where he associated with the most eminent artists of the day. It was then that he met and formed a lasting friendship for Ferdinand Sor, one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever produced. These two artists represented different schools and their styles of execution were very dissimilar. Aguado had been taught, as F. de Fossa tells us, “To make on the guitar note after note, scale after scale, with an extraordinary velocity, because this was by the old Spanish guitarists called excellence.” His master played with the nails, and shone at a period when rapid passages alone were required of theguitar, when the only object in view was to dazzle and astonish. But, as Ferdinand Sor states, “Aguado felt good music himself and from the time when he began to act without any other guide than his own exquisite taste and his own understanding, he inclined, as much as he could, towards a style more musical than that of other guitarists.” Aguado had at that time acquired the art of playing in a clear and soft tone, with great expression upon an instrument which usually becomes a tin pan in the hands of nineteen-twentieths of those who handle it. But meeting Sor, and hearing him play in the strained style for which he was so noted, Aguado felt that he had a new study to make. Sor, too considerate himself to think of openly blaming the method of performing used by so distinguished an artist, quietly pointed out the inconvenience of the use of the nails. Aguado thereupon began a course of practice to acquire distinctness in playing, and F. de Fossa says that the execution of Aguado was soon equal to that of his model. So far as we know, Aguado was the only great guitarist who used the nails, though he afterwards confessed to Sor that he was beyond the time of life in which he could overcome the bend of the fingers acquired by long habitude, but that were he to begin again, he would play without using the nails.

Aguado’s method, a remarkable and most excellent work, was first published in Madrid in 1825. A second and enlarged edition followed in 1827, was translated into French by F. de Fossa, and published in Paris in the same year. A third edition was issued in Madrid in 1843. ln this work the idea of applying the elements of music to the guitar is happily conceived and ingeniously developed; that of studying the scale on a single string is intelligent and original, andgives an understanding of the intervals by the material proof of the number of frets embraced. It moreover familiarizes the pupil from the beginning with the motion of the hand on the neck of the instrument. The work is progressive; care being taken not to present two difficulties at the same time and it is concluded by a short treatise on harmony as applied to the guitar, in which is given a nomenclature of the principal chords, the manner of forming them on the guitar, the resolution of dissonants, the prohibited intervals, the suspensions and anticipations of harmony, the principal harmonic progressions, and the indispensable rules for the succession of chords.

Aguado was among the first to observe that one of the secrets of a brilliant execution is the proper position of the guitar. After experimenting, he invented a tripod in which the instrument is held without support from the player. The inventor claims that by use of the tripod the guitar is isolated as much as possible, being held in position by the clasps, and the vibrations have no impediment at all; that, relieved from the labor of holding the guitar, the player, in a natural and graceful posture, is enabled to give his entire attention to execution.

Having a strong desire to return to his native country, in 1838 Aguado went back to Madrid, where he resided until his death, December 20th, 1849. The following works of this artist were published in Paris:

  • Op. 1. Douze valses pour la Guitare.
  • Op. 2. Six Pieces D’etude.
  • Op. 3. Huit Petites Pieces.
  • Op. 4. Six Petites Pieces.
  • Op. 5. Grande Methode.
  • Op. 6. Nouvelle Methode De Guitare.
  • Op. 7. Valses Dediees Aux Commencants.
  • Op. 8. Contredanses et Valses.
  • Op. 9. Contredanses Non Difficiles.
  • Op. 10. Exercises Faciles et Tres Utiles.
  • Op. 11. Les Favorites, Huit Contredanses.
  • Op. 12. Six Menuets et Six Valses.
  • Op. 13. Morceaux Agreeables et Non Difficiles.
  • Op. 14. Six Petites Pieces Non Difficiles.
  • Op. 15. Le Menuet Afandangado Varie.
  • Op. 16. Lefandango Danse Espagnole.


H. M. New Orleans, asks whether it is possible before putting a string on the guitar to ascertain whether it is false.

Aguado gives the following method: “To try a string, hold between the thumb and first finger of each hand a portion equal to the length required for the guitar; give this portion a certain degree of tension and make it vibrate by snapping it with one of the fingers which is free. The string is perfect if the vibrations produce only two apparent lines; it is false if they form more than two. When on the first trial, the portion of the string tested is not perfect, one side may be shortened, the other lengthened, and the operation repeated.”

L. H., Cleveland, O., is informed that the sudden unwinding of the pegs of the guitar may be prevented by rubbing the inside of the peg-holes with castile soap and afterwards with whiting. The pegs may then be turned easily and will remain in position without unwinding.

S. F., Buffalo, N. Y., asks to be informed “Of a piece for piano, two zithers and guitar, or the like, suitable to be played at exhibitions.”

We have been unable to find a piece for these instruments, although we have consulted the conductor of a zither club, and have looked through our catalogues. Joseph Bartl has made a number of arrangements for three or more ordinary zithers, with altzither, streichzither, guitar and piano. We give below the titles of a number of pieces for two zithers and guitars:

  • Bartl, J., Willkommen! Melodien ohne Worte aus dem bayrischen Hochgebirge.
  • Bartl, J ., Die Hirschberger Rengentropfen. Laendler.
  • Bartl, J., Jubelmarsch.
  • Bartl, J., Die Vertranlichen. Laendler.
  • Bartl, J., Prinz-Carl-Marsch.
  • Breit, G., Fantasie (Ant der Welt ist’s schoen).
  • Burgstaller, F. X., Ein Gedanke nach Pfarrkirchen.
  •  Darr, A., 4 Tonstuecke.
  • Keppel, L., Abendruhe, Allemande und Steyrerlust.
  • Ponholzer, J., Leichter Sinn. Schottische.

The above pieces may be procured from our publishers.

Mrs. E. G. Fracker, lowa City, Ia., writes in reference to the Guitar Department of the WORLD:

“My December number of the WORLD has given me a glorious Christmas treat, and I hasten to offer thanks for the interest taken in the behalf of guitarists. I shall read with interest the items concerning this long neglected instrument, and ask for a place in your list of guitar teachers. believing my many years’ experience as such will entitle me to it.”

Mr. A. M. Buchmann, of Minneapolis, Minn., writes:

“I notice with much pleasure the formation of a column for us, I mean guitarists, or I should say the instrument, and I cannot curb my impatience to wait until the next number, nor to put off writing and expressing my extreme gratification. We hope soon to have the Justin Holland Guitar Club of Minneapolis organized.”

Miss Addie Skeels, of Cincinnati, writes: “I am so glad that the WORLD is taking such interest in the guitar as to give it a column, which l will react with great interest.”

A typographical error In the January number made us say that the terz guitar is used particularly for playing duos for guitar and piano, whereas we wrote “particularly for playing duos for guitars and guitar and piano.”


This department is prepared at all times to fill orders for Guitars, Guitar Strings, Instruction Books, and everything and anything used by Guitarists, on short notice, at the very lowest prices consistent with reliable goods.

Guitar Strings.

Among our Stock of Strings we might mention the “Criterion,” a first-class article, and one which has been sold extensively, and become a great favorite, and the “Standard Russian Gut,” an extra fine String, which is made expressly for the use of Guitarists, who desire the best to be found.

Our Bass Strings are of the best American manufacture, and can be furnished wound on Silk or Silk and Steel; an excellent article.

We also carry a Line of Compounds, and Silver-Plated Steel Strings (Single and on Spools). 

Persons in ordering will please state whether Finished or Unfinished Strings are desired. Write for prices.

Guitar Methods.

As for Instruction Books, we may bring to your notice

Holland’s Method for the Guitar.

This Celebrated Method has become the invaluable companion of all Guitarists, professional and amateur. It is the work of one of the best Guitarists in the world, and is an improvement on all other Methods of teaching this sweet instrument. It is famous for its progressive arrangement, adaptation, simplicity and thoroughness. The book contains many beautiful Gems of Guitar Music by the best writers. Guitar players should send for one at once. Mailed post-paid on receipt of $2.50.

Carcassi’s Guitar Method.

This Standard Method for the Guitar, edited by Justin Holland, the celebrated Guitarist, is the only correct edition of the foreign work, and contains numerous additions and notes. It is used by the best teachers in this country and Europe, and a standard authority on all matters pertaining to the instrument. Order only Brainard’s New and Improved Edition. Price. Complete, $3.00; Abridged, $2.00.

The Criterion Guitar.

If you want the Best Guitar in the World, an instrument without an equal for depth, breadth, power and sweetness of tone, one that in the hands of a performer will fill your room with music, get the “Criterion Guitar.” There are hundreds of cheaper and many higher in price, but none equal to this favorite instrument. Every Genuine Instrument has the name of S. Brainard’s Sons and the word “Criterion” plainly stamped on the inside. Warranted perfect and not to check or split. Write for prices.

Vol. XXV, No. 3, Whole No. 291, March, 1888, p. 90

The Guitar

Address all communications pertaining to this department to Justin M. Holland, care S. Brainard’s Sons, Cleveland. 


For one who would play the guitar well and with effect four things are necessary, viz.: 1st, a good guitar, properly strung; 2d, correct position of the guitar; 3rd, correct position of the arms and hands; 4th, correct method of pressing and striking the strings.

The talent of the most clever guitarist will not prevail against the disadvantages of a guitar having a bad form of construction, little tone, hard touch, frets inaccurately placed or strung with strings of disproportionate size, bad quality, false tone or worn out. To be a good instrument, the guitar must have a fine tone, with frets accurately placed, strings elevated very little above the finger-board, and it must be well proportioned in all its parts, especially in the neck. It is difficult to explain what is a fine tone, but comparison of different guitars will enable one to appreciate what is meant, and to select an instrument of clear, soft, agreeable tone, at the same time having sufficient volume. The same may be said with regard to touch. The Criterion guitars are good, so that choosing a good instrument is to-day a matter of little difficulty. Fifty years ago, however, the player had to measure and test an instrument before purchasing.

As all guitarists should know something of the proportions of the instrument, we will state that the distance from the nut at the head of the neck to the first fret must be equal to one-eighteenth of the length from the nut to the bridge; one-eighteenth of the distance from the first fret to the bridge gives the fixed measure for the second fret, and this operation repeated will give the places for the following frets, the spaces between which diminish progressively. The twelfth fret is exactly midway between the nut and bridge: the fifth fret is equally distant from the nut and the twelfth fret; and from any given point on the finger-board a space of five frets towards the nut will be equal to a measure of seven frets from that point towards the bridge.

To insure the best results, the finger-board should be convex, the curve not exceeding an arc of 18 degrees. The bridge must be neither too high nor too low; for if too low, the strings when set in motion are apt to jar upon the frets (a fault often found in cheap and poor guitars); if too high, removing the strings in its vibration too far from the direction parallel to the finger-board, the sound would lose much of its strength and especially of its roundness. The height of the nut and bridge should therefore be so proportioned that the elevation of the open string from the first fret shall be the same as the elevation of the string above the second fret when pressed at the first fret, and so on. By this means the same resistance is had at every point, and consequently tbe same facility in pressing the strings, but, in order to produce stronger and more sustained basses, the line of the bridge on which the wire strings bear is not quite parallel to the plane of the sounding board, but a little more elevated on the side of the sixth string. The head is not in a straight line with the finger-board, but inclined backward so as to form an angle of from 24 to 26 degrees.

In order to obtain a good tone the instrument should not only be well constructed, but the strings must be of good quality and of suitable size for it. In many cases instruments which do not give satisfaction will excite surprise by the favorable change when furnished with proper strings. The proper size can be ascertained by experiment and measured with a string-gauge, and one can thus be able to obtain strings of the proper size. (In our next we shall explain the best method of holding the guitar and setting the strings in vibration.)


This distinguished guitarist was born in Florence, Italy, about 1775. Little is known of his history prior to his arrival in Paris in 1820, after having traveled for a number of years in Spain. His compositions (of which a partial list is given below) were considered excellent, but his chief work is a method of which two editions, with French and Italian text, were published in Paris, and a German translation issued in Leipsic. In this work the principles of music are applied to the guitar clearly and thoroughly, the explanations regarding embellishments being remarkably explicit, enough of the theory of music is taught to enable the pupil to analyze the scales, to distinguish major from minor keys, scales and chords, and to know what intervals may be used in forming chords on each note of a key. The first exercises consisted of a theme in C major, with thirty-five variations, designed particularly to teach the fingers of the right hand, and to accustom the pupil to handling the instrument. Scales, chords, arpeggios and preludes follow in the other keys, and the work is concluded with a sonata for guitar with violin accompaniment. 

Notwithstanding the remarkably analytical mind with which Molino was gifted, he did not entirely emancipate himself from the faults of the Italian school with regard to fingering, resting the fourth finger of the right hand on the sounding board and the poor manner of holding the instrument. He taught that the wire strings should generally be struck with the thumb, and the third, second and first strings set in vibration with the first, second and third fingers respectively, even in scale passages. In his method, Molino often directs that consecutive notes made on the same string be struck with the same finger, and even where unnecessary the thumb is made to strike two notes not on adjoining strings.

Among the Spanish and Italians the guitar was the instrument used for serenades and outdoor music, and the guitarist himself often without a seat, required for the instrument a support which would leave his hands free for execution. For this purpose nothing had been found better than a silk ribbon attached to the small pegs on the head, and lower end of the instrument, and passed over the left shoulder and back of the performer. Molino, himself an Italian, did not discard the use of the ribbon even when seated, but rested the lower convexity of the guitar on the right thigh, the ribbon aiding the thumb of the left hand in supporting the neck of the instrument. This manner of holding the guitar is not in vogue now, although, on account of the present mode of dress, it might be preferred by many ladies. The great objection to this position is the difficulty of holding the instrument firmly, so as to produce a full and pure tone. The left hand being burdened with a partial support of the neck of the guitar, the fingers cannot be moved over the fingerboard with agility.

Molino’s principal works consist of:

  1. Trios for Guitar, Flute and Alto, Op. 4, 19 and 30.
  2. Sonatas for Guitar and Violin, Op. 2, 3, 7, 10, 22 and 29.
  3. Nocturnes for Guitar and violin, Op. 36 and 38.
  4. Nocturne for Guitar and Piano, Op. 44.
  5. Sonatas for Guitar, Op. 1, 6 and 15.
  6. Rondos for Guitar, Op.11 and 28.
  7. Themes varied for Guitar, Op, 5, 9, 12, 18, 21, 31 and 35.
  8. New and Complete Guitar Method, Italian and French text.

Molino died In Paris, 1847.


J. S., Cincinnati, Ohio, says: “Is there any work published explaining how to make accompaniments for the guitar?”

Carulli, the founder of the modern school for the guitar, wrote two works for accompanists, the first of which (Op. 61) was published in Paris, previous to 1820, under the title of “Premiere Suite a la Methode de Guitare ou Lyre, ou Methode pour apprendrea accompany le Chant,” (First Sequel to the Method for Guitar or Lyre, or Method for learning to accompany singing.) In the introduction the author states that accompaniments for the guitar can be made so easy that they may be executed by a pupil who has taken only twelve or fifteen lessons. He adds that the treatise offers to amateurs the surest, briefest and easiest means for learning all the major and minor chords, arpeggios and passages in every position which are ordinarily found in guitar accompaniments; that the work will be of great utility to those who, having little knowledge of the instrument, wish to amuse themselves by making accompaniments, as well as to musicians who, without knowing anything of the instrument, can make accompaniments with the aid of the passages given in the treatise. This method, while containing none of the rules of harmony, gives scales, arpeggios of three, four, six, eight and sixteen notes, in all the keys and passages of diminished sevenths in all the positions. These exercises are followed by fourteen French and Italian songs as illustrations.

Another work by the same author, “L’Harmonie appliquee a la Guitare,” (Harmony applied to the Guitar). published in Paris in 1825, is a treatise based upon a regular theory of harmony, with rules, illustrations and exercises. This work is very valuable to those who wish to learn to arrange correctly, or to adapt for the guitar accompaniments of the piano or orchestra.

About fifty pages of Aguado’s “Complete Method for the Guitar,” (Paris, 1827,) are also devoted to an explanation of harmony as applied to the guitar.

These works were written In French, and have never, so far as we are aware, been published In English.

C. M., St. Louis, Mo., writes·: ”I have seen it stated that the strings of the guitar were formerly arranged in pairs like those of the mandoline. Can you inform me it such was the case?”

In the early part of the century the double-stringed guitar was still in use in Spain. It was provided with only one first string, while the heavy sixth string was mated with a line wire string giving its octave. The other strings were in pairs. The objections to this style of stringing were stated by Aguado as follows:

1. It was difficult to find two strings so perfect as to preserve an exact unison from one end of the fingerboard to the other.

2. There being only one first string, there was a disproportion in the sounds in passing from that string to the others.

3. The fine wire string mated with the coarse sixth string prevented distinguishing the lower tone. 

4. There was more difficulty in holding two strings than one string.

5. Tone being produced by the duration of vibrations, it is much easier to sustain it on one string than on two strings. There was consequently no increase of tone except with open strings.

6. The double-string was an obstacle to agility, and increased the difficulty of maintaining the tones.

J. D., Cleveland, Ohio, asks: “Would you please inform me, at your earliest convenience, through the Guitar Column of the MUSICAL WORLD, whether I can get a journal devoted exclusively to the guitar, giving moderately difficult music? One for banjo and guitar, giving equal attention to both, would be very acceptable, if the other cannot be found. Can “Traumerie” be secured in sheet form arranged for the guitar? By giving this information at your earliest convenience you will greatly oblige me.”

So far as we are aware, there is no musical journal published devoted exclusively to the guitar. We receive two journals devoted to the banjo and guitar; “S. S. Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal,” published in Philadelphia, and now in its fourth year, and a new publication, ‘”Gatcomb’s Banjo and Guitar Gazette,” published in Boston. These journals are published each alternate month, giving in each issue one or two pages of easy guitar music. The MUSICAL WORLD devotes more space to guitar matters than both the above journals combined, and offers the advantage of being a monthly publication.

We have never seen a published guitar arrangement of “Traumerie.”

Vol. XXV, No. 4, Whole No. 292, April, 1888, p. 130

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 


There is no doubt that the vibrations of the guitar are impeded owing to its resting against the performer. To overcome this impediment, wholly or partially, was a matter which occupied the attention of Sor and Aguado for a number of years. The former artist finally adopted the use of a small table under the right end of which he placed his left leg. The lower left-convexity of the guitar was then supported on the right thigh, which was a little turned out, and the upper left-convexity rested on the corner of the table opposite the twelfth fret of the instrument and next to his body. The guitar was thus held solidly in position, being supported not only by the knee, and the table, but held firmly by the weight of the right fore-arm and hand resting on the upper side of the instrument opposite the bridge. The left hand not having to support the neck of the instrument could be readily passed over the finger-board.

The experiments of Aguado led to the invention by him of the tripodison, a mechanical arrangement for supporting the guitar without assistance from the player. The lower portion of the tripodison, was somewhat like that of a piano stool with the revolving seat removed. Metallic clasps for holding the instrument were attached to the screw, which was used to raise or lower the guitar to any height desired. The instrument being isolated, the vibrations had no impediment, and were pure and full. The player, relieved from the labor of holding the instrument, was enabled to give his entire attention to execution. Although doubtless the best mechanical arrangement ever invented for holding the guitar, the tripodison, did not come into extended use, probably on account of the cost of manufacture.

For those not provided with the tripodison, Aguado recommended the following manner of holding the instrument:

“Seat yourself in a chair, large enough to leave at your right a sufficient space to support the large convexity of the left side of the guitar, resting at the same time your right fore-arm upon the large part of the opposite side. The instrument will thus be supported without assistance of the left hand, which will be at liberty to run over the whole extent of the finger-board with ease. The oblique elevation of the neck forms an angle of thirty-five to forty degrees. If that angle be departed from the left arm will be fatigued, and the hand lose its agility. The body must be upright, and the head straight.

“To avoid bruising the instrument, I place a handkerchief at the point of support, although I recognize the fact that it somewhat deadens the sound. I believe that it would be possible to increase the volume of sound by supporting the guitar on a large empty case, especially constructed for that purpose.

“Those who have heard Mr. Sor, will remember that he placed the left foot upon a stool, while he supported upon the left thigh the concavity of the guitar and upon the right thigh the point forming the union of the two sides. Notwithstanding my veneration for all that emanates from that extraordinary man, I regard as the most advantageous the manner which l have indicated above, because the weight of the right arm suffices to hold the instrument in place without employing any force, the muscular strength of the fingers being reserved for the execution. All who have adopted my ideas of this fundamental principle have obtained the best results.”

The manner in which Sor usually held the guitar (as described by Aguado) is the same as that recommended in the methods of Carulli, Carcassi, Mertz and Holland. The seat should be a little higher than those in general use, the left foot being placed on a small stool of a height proportioned to that of tile seat. The body of the performer should be erect, and his head and neck in their natural position. The concavity of the left side of the guitar is supported upon the left thigh, while the point forming the union of the two sides rests against the right thigh, the right knee being a little turned out and the foot slightly drawn back. The oblique elevation of the neck of the instrument should not exceed thirty-five or forty degrees.


We have lately had the pleasure of receiving a letter from Mr. J. M. Miller, of Fort Howard, Wis., who is spoken of by the papers of his city as being a thorough musician. Born in Copenhagen, he had the advantage of a thorough musical training in youth, and with a remarkable aptitude for music he soon became master of the violin, flute, piano, guitar and cornet. He came to the United States when about 14 years of age and settled in the Northwest, where later he married an estimable lady. He has two children who are noted in their section for remarkable musical talent. The daughter, Miss Emily, only 17 years of age, is organiste of St. Patrick’s Church of Fort Howard, and plays organ, piano and guitar with equal facility. Master Arthur Miller, who is 15 years old, has the reputation of being an excellent performer on the cornet. At a concert recently given in Fort Howard, Miss Miller performed Zani de Ferranti’s “Carnaval de Venice.” That one so young should have acquired the skill necessary to render this composition (one of the most difficult yet written for the guitar) will no doubt seem almost incredible to our readers. But having great musical talent and an excellent teacher in the person of her father, Miss Miller has within a few years acquired a skill which comes to those less gifted only after years of laborious study. She has a fine collection of guitar music.

Mr. Miller is suffering from a disease of the respiratory organs, and bas been advised by his physician to seek a milder climate. The family would be a great accession to any musical community, and we hope that any of our readers knowing of a location where musical talent would be appreciated and rewarded will communicate with Mr. Miller.


Guitar solos and duets are becoming quite a feature in concerts. At Fort Howard, Wis., at a concert given February 3d, by the Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Prof. J. M. Miller, Misses Emily Miller and Bessie Allen rendered an air from Ballet of Nina, varied for two guitars by Horetzky. The Green Bay Musical Journal, after speaking of Miss Miller as the best, or one of the best, guitarists in Wisconsin, states that the performance “earned well deserved applause.”

The Evening Repository, of Canton, Ohio, gives the following account of a performance of “Il Puritani,” fantaisie for two guitars, by J. J. Muller, at a concert given in that city on February 22d:


“A new and splendid feature of the programme was a musical duet on guitars by Messrs. Roebuck and Prescott. The selection played was a revelation as to what sweet melody can be extracted from this instrument. Unlike the ordinary guitar thumping, the music was akin to the soft, harmonious tunes of a mandolin in the hands of a Spanish student.”


J.M. S., Grant Centre, Iowa, asks whether tile guitar methods of Molino, Giuliani and Carulli, published in English, can be obtained in this country; and what studies we would recommend for one who has gone through Carcassi’s method.

Molino s method is published with German and French text, but would hardly be of benefit to one who has been through Carcassi’s method. Carlilli’s method is published with French and German text, and Giuliani’s studies, with French, Italian and German text; both works can be supplied by our publishers. Giuliani’s studies, Op. 1, are especially valuable as exercises for developing the strength of the fingers of the right hand, and for acquiring facility in playing thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths in the various keys.

P.H. L., Cleveland, Ohio, asks: “How should the strings be struck by the right hand to give a loud tone and yet not snap? Is it not better never to use the thumb of the left hand in fingering, leaving out a note, if necessary, to do so?”

1. To prevent their “‘snapping” against the frets of the guitar the strings must be so struck as to vibrate in a direction parallel to the plane of the sounding-board, as well as to that of the fingerboard. In order to produce this vibration, both hand and fingers must be entirely clear of the sounding-board and bridge, and the ends of the fingers placed in front of and parallel to the plane formed by the strings. The fingers should not be too much curved, and the act of setting the strings in vibration should be only of shutting the hand, without however closing it entirely. The thumb should never be directed towards the hollow of the hand, but act as if going to make a cross with the next finger, the thumb itself going above the finger. To obtain a clear and lengthened tone without its being violent, touch the string at one-eighth part of its length from the bridge, making the sound result from a kind of friction, and not from a pull. If a louder tone is desired, touch it nearer the bridge, exerting a little more force.

2. The opinion of guitarists is divided as to the propriety of using the thumb of the left hand for pressing the sixth string. Its use was taught by the early writers for the instrument, and their teachings have been followed by Carulli, Giuliani, Mertz and Zani de Ferranti. The habit is strongly condemned by Sor, for the reason that the strings cannot be pressed with the thumb without contracting the shoulder and bringing the hand behind the neck of the guitar, not only annulling in a great measure the play of the fingers shortened by one-half, but putting the wrist in a strained and painful position. In this position it is necessary to contract the fore-finger excessively to press F at the first fret or the first string, and the ends of the fingers not falling perpendicularly on the strings, greater efforts must be made to press them. Another objection is that it is almost impossible to avoid touching the neighboring strings, thus damping a sound which may be wanted. These objections urged by Sor, the most philosophical of the writers for the guitar, as well as a player of most extraordinary ability, seem conclusive against using the thumb of the left hand for fingering, It is our experience that many of the passages marked for the thumb can be more easily played with the fingers.

Vol. XXV, No. 5, Whole No. 293, May, 1888, p. 170

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 



It is not alone sufficient that an instrument should be well constructed, but the strings must be of suitable size and tuned to pitch answering to the guitar’s dimensions, in order to judge properly of the quality of its tone. (Thus, if you tune a little guitar up to concert pitch only, you will have a real kettle). I have seen guitars which did not give satisfaction, but which as soon as I had furnished them with proper strings excited surprise by the favorable change. But I now speak in this place only of the manner of producing the tone. As the stretched string offers more or less resistance in proportion as the finger applied to it is nearer or further from the bridge, the vibrations must be started with a different velocity (not different frequency) for each point in the half of its length, and the tone resulting will be likewise different. Therefore I think that in order that the instrument may yield me all the gradations of piano and forte, those gradations must not depend alone on the hand; one thereby avoids such inconveniences as touching one string instead of another, or missing those which it was intended to touch. Wishing also to take advantage of the resistance offered by the string on touching it in different places, I established the common place of the hand at one-tenth of the whole length of the string from the bridge. At that point the resistance being nearly as powerful as the impulse given by the finger, a clear and lengthened tone may be obtained without it being violent. When a mere mellow and sustained sonnet is desired the string should be touched at one-eighth part of its length from the bridge, and profiting by the curve forming the inside of the extreme joint of the finger one should make the sound result from a kind or friction, and not from a pull. If, on the contrary, a louder sound is desired, the string should be touched nearer the bridge than usual, and, in this case, a little more force exerted in touching it. Sometimes, when it is desired to play with force a chord in which all the six strings are employed, the thumb may slide across them all with rapidity, its direction being parallel to the sounding-board, as otherwise the latter strings may be missed or forced too near the sounding-board, in which case they jar against the frets. The quantity of tone, in this case, should not depend on the pressure of the thumb against the strings. The blow received by a plane from a solid falling body is according to the height from which it falls. In physics this blow is called the quantity of motion; and this quantity of motion is the product of the weight of the body multiplied by the velocity (or the straight line passed through in its falling direction) at every point wherein the body is found. This multiplication has a much greater product than if the weight be multiplied by the total height of fall, because the augmentation is more in the former case than in arithmetical progression. Hence, it follows, by this method that if only one of the factors be increased the quantity of motion will always be augmented. Considering the hand as the heavy body and the line passed over by the thumb as the velocity, the quantity of motion (or momentum) will be the product of the one by the other. Instead of increasing the weight of the hand by adding the impulse of the arm, I so manage as to prevent that from taking place: I leave the wrist at liberty, and increase the velocity in passing over the line of motion, which I begin at a much greater distance from the sixth string than that where I generally hold the thumb.


Leonard De Call was born in a village in South Germany in 1779. From early childhood he applied himself to the study of the guitar, flute and violin, first becoming known to the public as a composer in 1801. At that time De Call was residing in Vienna, and his first works were written for the guitar and flute. Being easy and agreeable these compositions were favorably received and soon became popular. The music publishers encouraged the author to such an extent that in less than twelve years he had given to the public about 160 compositions. These consisted of guitar solos and duos, duos for guitar and flute or violin, trios, quatours and serenades for guitar with accompaniment of violin, hautbois, bassoon and other instruments. At various intervals collections of songs for three or four male voices followed these light compositions and obtained a phenomenal success. De Call may be considered as the one who introduced that style of music among the Germans, and the catalogues of music publishers give about twenty collections of these songs, numbering more than 140 pieces.

As is generally the case with composers of light music, De Call, notwithstanding the fecundity and brilliant success of his compositions, lived to see his popularity wane, and had he not died at the early age of thirty-six years he would have had the chagrin of finding himself almost entirely forgotten. He died at Vienna in 1815.

A few of De Call’s compositions may still be obtained, principally serenades or nocturnes for guitar, flute or violin and alto. His “Trio Facile Pour Trois Guitares, Op. 26,” is well known to guitarists, and is used perhaps more on account of the scarcity of music for three guitars than for the intrinsic merit of the piece. De Call’s trios and quatours for guitar with other instruments are far less desirable than those of Carulll, Giuliani and Kuffner, a number of which can still be obtained from foreign publishers.


The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Leader of March 29th make mention of serenades the night before by the Ionia Zither-Guitar Quintet. The Quintet is composed of Messrs. J. Vogt, J. B. Ives and Will Bernsee, zithers; Will E. Steele and L. H. Prescott, guitars. These gentlemen are skilled players and make exceedingly sweet music.

It appears from a letter lately received by us from Ithaca, N. Y., that quite an interest is manifested in the guitar by the young ladies and gentlemen of that city, a number of them being skilled performers on the instrument. We hope to chronicle at an early date the formation of a guitar club there.


Howard, Cleveland, O., asks: “In fastening the strings into the pegs to tighten them, which way should they turn, all to the left or right, or part one way and part the other?”

Answer–We have always followed the method given by Aguado: “The strings being well secured at the bridge and passed through the grooves of the nut, are fastened to the pegs in this manner: The first and sixth strings to the two pegs nearest the nut; the second and fifth to the two pegs above; and the third and fourth to the two uppermost pegs. The first and sixth strings are turned outward and the others inward, the rule being to wind the string toward the lower and not the upper part of the peg.”

Miss E. A. B., of Cincinnati, O., asks: “Is it necessary that the guitar be kept in a box? Can it not be sufficiently protected in a flannel or silk bag?

Answer–In order that the guitar may preserve all its good qualities the greatest care should be taken of it. Dampness, dryness, severe cold or extreme heat greatly influence the strings and wood of even the best seasoned instrument. The variations of the atmosphere always affect, more or less, the integrity of the instrument. For these reasons a case lined with flannel, fur or cloth is absolutely necessary, and in this the guitar should always be kept when not in use.

Miss C. H., Indianapolis, Ind., writes: “I have much difficulty in preserving strings. They seem to dry up and become brittle. How can I prevent this?”

Answer–The gut strings should be preserved it oiled paper and the wire strings should be guarded from dampness. We have known strings to be preserved in good condition for over two years, the gut strings being wrapped in oiled paper, the wire strings in ordinary paper. They were then placed in pasteboard boxes, which were kept in a large tin box with close fitting cover.

A. B., of St. Louis, Mo., writes: “I have a chance to buy a fair-toned guitar, think it is Spanish, but the back is cracked. Is that a serious fault?

Answer–A crack in the back of a guitar can be closed by a good workman so that the original tone of the instrument will not be impaired. A French terz-guitar in our possession, known to be over forty years old, has been cracked both on the side and back, and yet has been so skillfully repaired that the tone has not been at all injured.

H.P., Cleveland, O., asks: ‘”What do you think of having the fifth, seventh and ninth positions marked by a circle of pearl over each of these frets?”

Answer–These marks on the fingerboard are not only unnecessary, but are positively detrimental, inasmuch as one accustomed to depend on them would be confused when playing upon an instrument not so marked. Every guitarist should guard against contracting the habit of looking at the left hand, because it is necessary to employ the eyes in reading the music. The fingers should be accustomed to mechanically finding not only the string, but in addition the fret upon which they have to exert their pressure.

Miss T. L., Cairo, Ill.. asks: “How can I acquire certainty in fingering? I am always touching one fret or string for another.

Answer–It is only through much practice that one acquires force and agility and becomes able to always touch the desired fret or string. Aguado calls this “assurance,” and he says that it can be acquired by repeating a passage a thousand times until it is mastered. When a certain number of passages have been learned the fingers become so supple and disposed to execute every kind of movement that they can be moved at will, either successively or simultaneously, the latter being very necessary in the execution of chords.

J. D. is informed that “Traumerei” has been arranged for the guitar by W. L. Hayden, and can be obtained of our publishers.


This department is prepared at all times to fill orders for Guitars, Guitar Strings, Instruction Books, and everything and anything used by Guitarists, on short notice, at the very lowest prices consistent with reliable goods.

Guitar Strings.

Among our Stock of Strings we might mention the “Criterion,” a first-class article, and one which has been sold extensively, and become a great favorite, and the “Standard Russian Gut,” an extra fine String, which is made expressly for the use of Guitarists, who desire the best to be found.

Our Bass Strings are of the best American manufacture, and can be furnished wound on Silk or Silk and Steel; an excellent article. We also carry a Line of Compounds, and Silver-Plated Steel Strings (Single and on Spools).

Persons in ordering will please state whether Finished or Unfinished Strings are desired. Write for prices.

Guitar Methods.

As for Instruction Books, we may bring to your

Holland’s Method for the Guitar.

This Celebrated Method has become the invaluable companion of au Guitarists, professional and amateur. It is the work of one of the best Guitarists In the world, and is an improvement on all other Methods of teaching this sweet instrument. It is famous for its progressive arrangement, adaptation, simplicity and thoroughness. The book contains many beautiful Gems of Guitar Music by the best writers. Guitar players should send tor one at once. Mailed post-paid on receipt of $2.50.

Carcassi’s Guitar Method.

This Standard Method for the Guitar, edited by Justin Holland, the celebrated Guitarist, is the only correct edition of the foreign work, and contains numerous additions and notes. It is used by the best teachers in this country and Europe, and a standard authority on all matters pertaining to the instrument. Order only Brainard’s New and Improved Edition. Price, Complete, $3.00; Abridged, $2.00.

The Criterion Guitar.

If you want the Best Guitar in the World, an instrument without an equal for depth, breadth, power and sweetness of tone, one that in the hands of a performer will fill your room with music, get the “Criterion Guitar.” There are hundreds of cheaper and many higher in price, but none equal to this favorite instrument. Every Genuine Instrument has the name of S. Brainard’s Sons and the word “Criterion” plainly stamped on the inside. Warranted perfect and not to check or split. Write for prices.

Vol. XXV, No. 6, Whole No. 294, June, 1888, p. 210

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 


While in this country the name of Carcassi is more familiar than that of any other foreign composer of guitar music, little is known of his early history. He was born in Florence, Italy, about 1792. Applying himself from youth to the study of the guitar, he acquired a remarkable skill upon the instrument. In the early part of this century Paris seems to have been the goal of the great guitarists, and it was only natural that Carcassi should go there in search of fame and fortune. Carulli had preceded him several years, creating a great furore by the perfection of his execution; his celebrated method for the guitar was the only one in general use; he had written and published over three hundred original compositions for the instrument. But the founder of the modern school for the guitar was growing old; his fingers no longer had the suppleness of youth; he did not appear so often in public, and the fickle Parisians were ready to transfer their allegiance to a new guitar king. Carcassi brought them a different style of music, full of melody, brilliant, abounding in new and pleasing effects, and of medium difficulty. Understanding all the resources of the instrument, able to execute this music with a marvelous skill, Carcassi at once acquired a reputation as a finished artist. Publishers importuned him for his music, and the salons of all the artists and nobility of Paris were thrown open to him.

Commencing in 1822, Carcassi made concert tours in France, England, Germany and Italy; his reputation had preceded him, and he was everywhere received with great enthusiasm, particularly in his own country, to which he returned for the first time in 1836.

Carcassi is pre-eminent among guitarists for the definite nature of his individuality, which he impressed upon all his compositions and arrangements. He especially excelled in fantaisies and variations. The fantaisies upon the airs from the operas “La Muette de Portici,” “Le Comte Ory,” “La Fiancee,” “Guilliame Tell,” “Fra Diavolo,” “Le Dieu et la Bayadere,” “Zampa,” “Le Cheval de Bronze,” are not only artistically arranged and very brilliant, but exhibit all the resources of the instrument, without being too difficult for players of moderate ability. His arrangement of the Overture of Semiramis as a guitar solo (Opus 30) is also a work of great merit.

“Carcassi’s Method for the Guitar” is more extensively known in the United States than any other method for that instrument, and is issued under the imprint of a half-dozen publishers. This work. is divided into three parts, containing the elementary principles of music, the theory of the instrument, with the necessary examples and lessons arranged progressively in such manner as to facilitate their application. The exercises in the second part for practice of the slurs, trills, sons etouffes, thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths, harmonics, studies for practice in the different positions, scales and preludes in the various major and minor keys, are very complete. The method is concluded with fifty pieces of different styles, composed expressly for the work, and designed to improve the execution and musical taste of pupils. A supplement to the method, written immediately after, contains twenty-five melodic and progressive studies, designed to give expression and facility in execution.

Over seventy of Carcassi’s works for the guitar have been published. They are distinguished by a good style and originality, traits which are not common.

Carcassi died in Paris, January 16th, 1853.


The purity and fulness of tone obtained from the guitar depend almost entirely upon the manner of pressing and touching the strings. Aguado gives three fundamental rules which must be observed in order to play the guitar well:

I. The finger must be pressed on the string with force to firmly fix one of the points of support of its vibrating part.

II. This force must be equal and constant during the time the string is required to vibrate.

III. To make the sound cease, it is sufficient to interrupt the vibrations.

The force with which the finger may be pressed upon the string depends largely upon the position of the left arm and hand. It is generally understood that the end of the left thumb should be placed at the middle of the convexity of the neck of the guitar opposite to the finger which corresponds to the first fret, the hand being entirely free of the neck, the fore-arm and wrist curved, and the elbow slightly separated from the body. The fingers must press just to the left of the frets, and, when pressing the fifth and sixth strings, the elbow is brought closer to the side, the wrist curved a little more outward, and the thumb withdrawn towards the under edge of the guitar’s neck. For the barrer the first finger is laid literally across the strings parallel to the frets. With the left arm, wrist and hand placed as here described, the fingers may be brought down upon the strings with force which may be maintained during the time represented by the notes being played. The least diminuation of the force of pressure serves to interrupt the vibrations and destroy the purity and fulness of the tone. The string ceases to vibrate as soon as the finger is raised.

The right fore-arm should rest on the edge of the guitar opposite the end of the bridge, only enough of the fore-arm extending over the sounding-board to permit tile ends of the fingers to easily touch the six strings. The elbow should be separated from the body, the fingers separated and slightly curved just above the strings, and the body of the hand in a direct line with the fore-arm. No part of the hand or lingers should be allowed to rest on the sounding-board or bridge. The hand should be elevated a little on the side of the fourth finger in order that the thumb, first and second fingers may preserve a line parallel to the plane of the strings viz., each strike the string at an equal distance from the bridge. Great care must be taken in striking not to lift the string, as the reaction would carry it against the frets, interrupting the vibrations and causing a harsh tone. The round tips of the fingers should strike the strings forcibly and then glide over them, as if in the act of closing the hand without closing it entirely. The thumb should act with the first finger as if to make a cross with it, moving in front of the finger and not toward the hollow of the hand. The strings should be struck at a point distant from the bridge one-tenth to one-eighth of their whole length, according as a loud or mellow tone is desired. It should be remembered that the duties of the two hands are correlative and simultaneous, constituting a close harmony of action, and that if either fail the result is unsatisfactory.

The observance of these directions will enable a performer to obtain from the guitar a tone clear, brilliant and strong, without being harsh; or clear, sweet and soft, without being weak.


J. S., St. Louis, Mo., asks: “What is meant by the indication ‘6th string to D,’ met with in some pieces of music?

Answer: “6th string to D” signifies that the sixth string must be lowered one tone to the octave of the fourth string. The new D thus added to the scale is written on the G clef of a supplementary line below that of E.

G. L., Chicago, asks: “Has ‘Sor’s Method for the Guitar’ been published in English?”

Answer: An edition of Sor’s method in English, translated by A. Merrick, was published many years ago by R. Cocks & Co., London. We do not know whether it can be obtained at this time. 

Miss M. J., Cleveland, O., asks: “Which is the correct way of playing the appoggiatura, before the bass and principal note, or with the bass note?”

Answer: The appoggiatura should be played with the bass or under parts, and slurred to the principal note.

Miss S. II., Indianapolis, asks: “Why is it that the fourth string, although smaller than the third string, gives a lower tone?”

Answer: The difference between the sounds produced by strings of a musical instrument results from difference in the number of vibrations, which vary according to length, tension, size and weight of the string by which produced. The length and tention being equal, the largest or heaviest string will give the lowest sound. The three gut strings of the guitar being of the same material, vary in sound according to the diameter, which supplies the weight, and are graded so that the second may be nearly half the size of the-third and double that of the first. The third string having the greatest diameter, and therefore the greatest weight, will give a lower tone the smaller the lighter strings. In order not to unduly increase the size of the fourth, fifth and sixth strings the weight (necessary to give the lower tones) is supplied by heavier material, silk and wire. The fourth string being heavier, although smaller than the third string, with equal tention gives a lower sound. The fifth and sixth strings are of the same material as the fourth, but as with equal tention they must produce lower sounds their size and weight are increased in the same proportion as the gut strings.

Vol. XXV, No. 7, Whole No. 295, July, 1888, p. 250

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 


Ferdinand Sor, one of the most renowned guitarists of the latter part of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, was born at Barcelona, February 17, 1780. His musical talent showed itself very early, and at the age of five years he composed little airs which he played upon the guitar and his father’s violin. The artists who saw and heard the child musician, recognized in him a genius who needed only the opportunity to develop into one of the greatest musicians of the age. Acting on their advice, the parents concluded to gratify the child’s great passion for music, and he was placed under a teacher. So rapid was his progress, that his father sent him shortly afterward to a convent to receive a thorough education, including harmony and composition. Young Sor was noted in the monastery for a thoroughness in all his studies, as well as in music, and when, at the age of sixteen, he left the monks, they had every reason to be proud of their pupil.

An Italian opera troupe, then in Barcelona, afforded Sor an opportunity of becoming practically acquainted with the art of song and orchestration. The young artist at once determined to write an opera. Having found in the library of the theatre the score of an opera by Cipalla, (“Telemacco”), he adapted the words to music, which was performed with success notwithstanding the author was only seventeen years of age. Having established a reputation as an artist of ability Sor went to Madrid, and was immediately engaged by the Duchess of Alba to write the music for an opera bouffe. He abandoned that work, however, on the death of the Duchess which occurred shortly afterwards. The Duke of Medina was also much interested in the young artist, and on his advice Sor undertook to write the music of some oratorios, which was followed by a number of symphonies, quatours for stringed instruments, a “salve,” and many Spanish songs.

At this time Spain stood on the brink of a revolution. The return of Bonaparte, followed by the fall of the Directory in France and the establishment of the Consulate, commenced a new epoch for Spain. The treaty at San Ildefonso, in October, 1800, was followed by war with Portugal, and Sor, with many other artists of the time, entered the Spanish army. He remained in the army until compelled in 1813 to take refuge in France with the adherents of King Joseph. In the French capital he met Mehul, Berton and Cherubini, who, charmed with his genius, prevailed upon him to again enter the career of art. After a short sojourn at Paris, Sor went to England. The Spanish guitar had at that time come into general use on the continent, although only little known in England. The English guitar, or “citra,” was of different shape, and had six wire strings, two being single, and four, of iron wire in pairs, tuned in unison. The scale of this instrument was as follows: C, E, G, C, E, G, the lowest note being the same as that produced at the third fret of the fifth string of the Spanish guitar. The technique of the instrument was of the simplest, the thumb and first finger only being employed, and sometimes a plectrum.

Sor was a performer of extraordinary skill on the guitar, and his playing aroused a furore in London. As had been the result on the continent, so in England the Spanish guitar superseded all other forms of the instrument. Sor now settled in London, and employed his time in teaching and writing music for the guitar. He also while there composed ”The Fair of Smyrna,” a comic opera, and the music of the ballets, “Le Seigneur Genereux.” (The Generous Lord), “L’Amant Peintre,” (The Painter Lover), and “Cendrillon.” The march from the latter ballet was afterwards arranged for the guitar by the author, and is to-day well known to guitarists.

While Sor was popularizing the guitar in England Giuliani was engaged in the same work in Russia, and the latter subsequently coming to England, there was great rivalry between the two masters. Giuliani introduced into his concerts the “terz chitarra,” or third guitar, which being tuned higher was more brilliant than the ordinary guitar. His duets for piano and terz guitar, for guitar and terz guitar, and concertos for terz guitar with accompaniment of orchestra, excited the greatest enthusiasm. Such was the popularity of one of these concertos that Hummel transcribed it for the piano forte. A musical journal was started devoted to the interests of the guitar, being named for Giuliani (“Giulianiad”), and some of Giuliani’s compositions were published in each number. Each of the great masters had his partisans; there were Sor clubs, and Giuliani clubs. But, at length both quitted London, Giuliani going to the continent, and Sor to Moscow to give a representation of his ballet, “Cendrillon.” While in Russia he wrote a funeral march for the obsequies of the Emperor Alexander ,and composed the music of the ballet “Hercules et Omphale,” on the occasion of the accession to the throne of the Emperor Nicholas.

On leaving Russia, Sor returned to Paris, where he essayed in vain to have one of his dramatic works represented in one of the theatres of that city. Ill health and consequent misfortune had overtaken him, and, pressed by want, he returned to London. While there he composed the music of the ballet “Dormeur Eveille,” and later the fairy opera, “La Belle Arsene.” Besides these works Sor had up to this time written a great deal for the guitar, but his music was not popular with the masses because his style of composition was nearly always in four parts rendering it difficult for amateurs.

Returning to Paris in 1828, he brought out new productions. His health was not restored by the change of climate, as he had hoped it would be, and after having languished eleven years in a condition bordering on want and misery, notwithstanding the universal esteem in which he was held for his talent, he died July 8, 1839, the result of a sickness as long as it was painful.



It may be stated as a rule almost without exception that the thumb of the left hand must never be used in fingering the fifth or sixth strings as was the practice of some of the guitarists of the last and early part of this century. It is better, even at the loss of a little harmony, to avoid this by dropping some note which will allow a readjustment of the fingering so that the thumb retains its proper position. The reason for this is apparent when we consider the perfect or ideal position. Imagine a line, called the median, drawn from the head of the guitar down the neck as far as the twelfth fret and equally distant from both sides of the neck. Place the first finger of the left hand on C of the second string, the second finger on E of the fourth string, and the third finger on C of the fifth string. A graceful curve drawn from the shoulder will pass through the elbow, over the wrist, knuckles, and end at the fingerboard with the tips of the fingers. Having curved the arm and hand as indicated, place the thumb on or a little above the median line (as the guitar rests in position in the lap) not parallel to or at right angles across, but so that it makes an angle of forty or forty-five degrees across the neck. The elbow rests easily at the side, not over two or four inches intervening. This may be called the “normal” or proper or ideal position, and will be varied somewhat according to the relative size of the player’s fingers and the guitar, but for grace, beauty and finished playing, this is the only correct manner.

Now, on the other hand, allow the guitar’s neck to fall into the crotch formed by the thumb and first finger of the left hand, and place the third finger and thumb at the third fret of the first string and sixth string respectively. This is a fair example of “thumb fingering.” If now the hand is closely noted, it is found that to press the strings and produce the notes, a pinching of the strings must take place instead of pressure. Again, the little finger is thrown completely off the finger board, and the elbow must be thrown far out from the body to make the position. To make the common chord of C, therefore. will require a large movements of the arm, the thumb must return to its position on the median line with a very perceptible portion of the time required to do it, while the third finger must require equally as much change to return to its right place. Whereas in correct playing no movement of the arm to any great extent should take place, the fingers should all drop like little hammers to their positions, while the thumb preserves its true and proper place at the back of the neck to steady the fingers and guide the arm and hand when moving in positions.


A. L., Cairo, Ill., asks: “In looking over some foreign music, I find the words, “sur deux cordes.” Please explain what is meant?”

Answer: The literal meaning of “sur deux cordes,” is “upon two strings,” and is an intimation that the notes referred to, as they succeed each other, are to be played alternately upon two adjoining strings, instead of upon the same string. The direction generally to successions of thirds, the lower note or each couplet being played on the third or second string, as the case may be, and the higher note on the next higher string.

P. H., Louisville, Ky., asks: “What is the meaning of the terms “tambour and friser?”

Answer: These terms have reference to a manner of striking chords practiced by the Spaniards, and found in Spanish music or pieces written in the Spanish style. Carcassi, in “Valse Brillante, Op. 55,” gives the following explanations:

Friser, indicates that the fingers of the right hand, with the exception of the thumb, should be held closed and then opened one after the other passing over the strings, without making the least movement of the arm.

Tambour, the thumb of the right hand must fall full length across all the strings at a point near the bridge, with force, but without producing a harsh tone.

In the friser, the opening of the fingers carries the nails across the strings, from the sixth to the first, producing a peculiarly brilliant effect. The tambour is intended to imitate the drum. Exercises for practice of the “friser” and “tambour” are given in the methods of Carcassi and Holland, published by S. Brainard’s Sons.

A Reader, Bay City, Mich., writes: “I would like to know if it is necessary in playing the guitar to make position notes, when in the upper positions, or open notes. I have a piece of music, “When the Leaves Begin to Turn,” by W. L. Hayden, Op. 136. In this piece there is a short run, d, b, g, e, d; I make the d, at the tenth fret, b, at the seventh; g, at the third; e, open, and d, again at the third fret. Now is this correct or not? Again, in playing guitar music, is it not intended when the author wishes you to make the notes in the upper positions, he will mark it with dotted lines above the full length of the strain to be played in that manner?”

Answer: Without knowing what precedes and what follows the passage referred to, we cannot state the best manner of fingering the same. But, from your description, we infer that the d should be taken at the tenth fret, b at the seventh, g at the eighth (second string), e open, etc. Unless some peculiar effect is to be produced, stopped notes in the position in which you are playing are generally preferred to open notes.

There is no uniform rule in marking the fingering of passages requiring to be played in the positions. Some authors mark such passages as described by you, and others simply mark the position in Roman figures, or only the fingers to be employed, the latter being generally sufficient for one having a knowledge of the finger-board of the instrument.


Minneapolis, Minn. Under the direction of Sig. Montanelli, the Minneapolis Mandolin and Guitar Club gave a grand concert May 24th. There was a large audience, and the programme, consisting of twelve numbers, was well rendered throughout. The opening number, Suppe’s “Pique Dame.” was given with a spirit, general harmony and precision which won the audience at once. Among the most interesting numbers on the programme were “Selections from William Tell,” and “Mazurka Florentina,” for mandolin and guitar; “Andante Nariee,” Carulli-Beethoven, for two guitars; “Potpourri, Zampa, Calife de Bagdad, Le Gondolier,” guitar solo rendered by Mr. A. M. Buchmann; “British Patrol,” “Valse Espagnola” and “Boulanger March,” given by the club. The entertainment was successful both from an artistic and financial standpoint, and is to be followed by another concert in the near future.

Utica, N. Y. A letter from our correspondent at Utica gives the pleasing intelligence that the guitar is having a “regular boom” there, many of the young ladies and gentlemen being fine performers. We hope that they will follow the fashion and establish a club.

Vol. XXV, No. 8, Whole No. 296, August, 1888, p. 290

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 



In contemplating Sor as an artist, we are struck by his extraordinary genius and the rapid growth of his powers. At the early age of seventeen he stood before the public as the composer of an opera which had been received with great favor. His symphonies and other instrumental compositions showed a high order of talent, and were very popular in Spain, as were also the songs of which he was the author.

We have already remarked on his powers as a virtuoso on the guitar. He considered the first requisites for a guitarist to be a correct and graceful position, a quiet and steady hand, the power of making the instrument sing the melody, clearness and neatness in the ornaments, and of course the necessary technique. Both as man and artist he was retiring and modest, and declared that as a guitarist he possessed no greater means than any other person. He had taken on the guitar believing it merely an instrument of accompaniment, as it was in Spain in the latter part of the eighteenth century. But he early discovered the capabilities of the instrument. The study of harmony and counterpoint, composition for voice and instruments, had familiarized him with the nature and progression of chords and their inversions, with the manner of placing the air in the bass or in one of the intermediate parts, of increasing the number of notes of one or two parts while the others continued their slower progressions. All these he required of the guitar, and found that it yielded them better than a continual jumble of semiquavers or demi-semi-quavers, in diatonic and chromatic scales.

Sor had no patience with those persons who sought to conceal a lack of talent with the remark, “I play only to accompany.” He reasoned that a good accompaniment requires a good bass, chords adapted to it, and movements approximating as much as possible to those of an orchestral score or piano-forte composition. These things required a greater mastery of the instrument than the sonatas in vogue at that time with long violin passages, without harmony, or even bass, except such as could be produced on the open strings. Hence, Sor concluded, as already had Carulli, Aguado and Giuliani under similar circumstances, that there were no masters within his reach capable of properly teaching the instrument. His first experiments were in the line of accompaniments, and he soon found himself in possession of a stock of positions. From his acquaintance with harmony, knowing each chord and inversion, its derivation, in what part the fundamental bass was found, what should be the progression of each part for the resolution or transition about to be made, he was prepared to establish a complete system of harmony on the guitar. Nor did he confine his investigations to the theoretical part of guitar music. He studied to improve the construction of the instrument, its position, fingering and the best manner of setting the strings in vibration so as to yield the best quality of tone.

The guitars of that period were made of thick wood, but Sor required the instruments made for him or on his order to have the sounding-board, sides and back made of thin and very light wood, supported by ribs or bars inside to withstand the tension of the strings. He devised a new form of bridge which was applied to the guitars made under his direction at London and St. Petersburg, and the rules formulated by him for the neck and finger-board are to-day still used in the construction of the best instruments. Having made these studies and deductions in the theory and practice of guitar music and execution, Sor wrote a few pieces, not for publication, but as examples of his reflections.

In his early days Sor had acquired perfection of technique, and yet always spoke of himself as only an amateur. He possessed great skill, certainly, power and a remarkably full tone, and his playing was as much of a revelation to great guitarists like Aguado and De Fossa as to amateurs. In fact, after hearing Sor perform some of his own compositions, Aguado studied them, and even asked Sor to criticise his rendering of them. The two artists became very intimate friends, and Aguado admitted that were he not too far advanced in life to overcome fixed habits he would adopt Sor’s style of fingering and striking the strings.

We are unable to state the date of publication of Sor’s first compositions for the guitar, but it was probably some time after his first arrival in London, an Opus 1 (Six Divertisements) is dedicated to Miss Wainwright, an English lady.

In reviewing Sor’s compositions we will first consider his method, a very remarkable and philosophical work, the result of many years of observation and reflection. He never lost sight of the true meaning of the word method, and remarked that he could never conceive how a method could be made with a greater quantity of examples than of text. The first part is devoted to directions for constructing a guitar so as to produce the best effects, but as these concern chiefly the manufacturer, we will omit reference to them here. The chapters on “Position of the Instrument,” “Right Hand.” “Left Hand” and “The Manner of Setting the Strings in Vibration,” are full and exhaustive and illustrated with numerous cuts. His manner of holding the instrument was substantially the same as that of Carulli, Carcassi, Mertz and Holland. He sometimes used a table for that purpose, so placed in front of him as to be partly over the left leg, presenting one corner opposite the twelfth fret of the guitar, which was then rested on the corner of the table and on the right thigh.

In illustrating the proper position of the right hand, Sor compares the fingers striking the strings of the guitar to the hammers striking the wire strings of the piano, and argues that the thumb, first and second fingers, like the hammers, should be placed in front of and parallel to the plane of the strings of the guitar. He also established as a rule of fingering for the right hand to employ commonly only the thumb, first and second fingers, and to use the third finger only when playing a chord in four parts where the part nearest to the bass leaves an intermediate string.

The Italian guitarists, Carulli, Carcassi and Zani de Ferranti, all used the thumb more or less for fingering on the sixth string, a practice which Sor severely condemned on the ground that it contracts the shoulder, shortens the play of the fingers by one-half, and places the wrist in an awkward and painful position. Sor’s explanation of the proper manner of setting the strings in vibration is very explicit, and special stress is laid upon the importance of causing the vibrations of the strings to take place in a direction parallel to the plane of the sounding-board in order to produce a pure tone.

The chapters on “Knowledge of the Fingerboard” and “Fingering on the Length of the String” are based on the axiom “that true knowledge of the scale is the key of all musical knowledge.” Sor divides the scale into two halves of four notes each: C, D, E, F, and G, A, B, C, wherein the order of the intervals is the same in both. These two parts of the scale are separated by the interval of a tone, and their last intervals are a semi-tone. In a very ingenious manner he lays down the rule for fingering the scales according to the tones and half-tones involved, and it is obvious that the first note once determined, it is only necessary to observe the proportions of the intervals to obtain by a single operation what would require twelve different ones were the names and the modifications of the notes composing it to occupy the attention.

The same principle is applied to fingering the scale on each of the strings, the author deeming it useful, in order to become perfect in the knowledge of the fingerboard, to acquire the habit of passing over each string for the whole length, considering the open string under different relations, as tonic, second, third, etc. Every note is considered with respect to its place in the key, and not as an isolated sound. The same principle is applied in considering thirds and sixths, general formulae being established for fingering major and minor thirds and sixths on adjoining strings in every key according to their occurrence in the scale, without burdening the mind with a consideration of each note by name and whether it be natural, sharp or flat.

Sor’s instructions as to playing harmonic sounds are complete, but his theory as to the vibrations of a string was erroneous. He deduced from his investigations that the vibrations came solely from that part of the string between the left hand finger and the nut, while, as a matter of fact, the whole string vibrates, but in equal sections dependent on the distance from the nut, or bridge, where the vibrations may have been interrupted by the finger of the left hand. The article on harmonics is followed by chapters on “Accompaniments,” and “Fingering with the Ring Finger” and the “Conclusion” gives a resume of his investigations, and general maxims established for guitar playing.

The Guitar Method of Ferdinand Sor is the most remarkable one ever published for that instrument, and as stated before contains much more text than music. It was undoubtedly intended to be used in connection with the author’s “Twenty-four Lessons, Op. 31.” Carefully and conscientiously written, touching upon every point of guitar playing, it will remain a lasting monument to the remarkable talent and genius of one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever known.



J. K., Cleveland, Ohio, asks: “I have great trouble in getting the wound strings of my guitar to stand the tension when raised to play pieces in the E tuning. Is there any way to prevent their breaking?”

Answer: In tuning the guitar to E, if the fourth and fifth strings, winch are raised one tone, resist the increase of tension without breaking, they will have much less tone when again lowered to the ordinary pitch. You will find it better to lower all the strings with the exception of the fifth and fourth, lowering the sixth string one tone, the third string a semi-tone, the second string one tone and the first string one tone, which produces the tuning D, A, D, F flat, A and D. This tuning is to all intents and purposes the same as E , B, E, G sharp, B and E, and nothing will prevent the execution under this tuning of all music written for the E tuning.

C. M., St. Louis, Mo., asks: “Do you think it a good plan when putting on a new string to raise it above pitch and let it stand in order to stretch it?”

Answer: We do not. A wire string may be lowered and tuned up again without injury, but if it be raised above the pitch of the instrument, and then lowered again, it will lose a great deal of its tone, and have a dead, woody sound.

Miss A. C., Cincinnati, Ohio, asks: “Which of the guitar methods was written first, that of Carulli or that of Carcassi?”

Answer: Carulli arrived in Paris in 1808, and his method was written shortly afterwards, being among his early works. Carcassi went to Paris ten or twelve years later, and did not write his method for several years subsequent to that time, It being among his last works. Carulll’s method was the first written for the guitar really deserving the title of method, and its author is deservedly called the founder of the modern school for the guitar.

Miss C. W., Indianapolis, Ind., asks: “Please advise me what method or studies would be suitable for practice after going through Carcassi’s method?”

Answer: Carcassi’s “25 Etudes Melodiques, Op. 60,” were designed by the author as a supplement to his method. These studies afford excellent practice for one desiring to acquire a good technique on the guitar.

Vol. XXV, No. 9, Whole No. 297, September, 1888, p. 330-331

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 



The compositions of Sor for the guitar consisted of:

  1. Lessons and Studies.
  2. Divertisements and Easy Pieces.
  3. Fantaisies and variations.
  4. Sonatas.
  5. Duos for two Guitars.

Before publishing the method, which we have previously mentioned, Sor issued the following lessons and studies: 12 Etudes, Op. 6 and 29; 24 Lecons Progressives, Op. 31; 24 Exercises Tres Faciles, Op. 35; Morceaux pour Lecons, Op. 44. The “Progressive Lessons,” Op. 31, were intended as an introduction to the study of the guitar, but because of the complaint of many that the increase of difficulty from one lesson to the next was too rapid and required too great application, the author issued the exercises known as Op. 35 and 44. These lessons, although well written and carefully fingered, were really better adapted for guitar students of great natural musical talent than those of average capacity. The author himself recognized this later, and among his last works published “Introduction to the Study of the Guitar, or 24 Progressive Lessons,” Op. 60, a set of exercises admirably adapted for the purpose indicated in the title. In general, the studies and lessons by this author are not only carefully written but each one has a special object in the application of a rule, or affording exercise on exceptions to general rules for fingering.

The divertisements and fantaisies are mostly original themes, a few, however, being arrangements of well-known airs, such as Mozart’s “O Cara Armonia,” Paisiello’s “Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento,” “Que ne suis-je la Fougere,” “Gentil Housard,” etc. They are all thoroughly suited to the instrument, although somewhat difficult for those unaccustomed to Sor’s fingering. 

Of the sonatas written by Sor, two, Op. 22 and 25, deserve especial mention as being full of depth and earnestness, with a vein of sadness running throughout. The “Fantaisie Elegiaque,” Op. 59, a work of great merit but quite difficult, was written to be played on the guitar held in position by the “Tripodison.” Of this fantaisie Sor says: “Without this excellent invention of my friend Denis Aguado, I would never have dared to impose on the guitar so great a task as that of making it produce the effects required by the nature of this new piece. I would never have imagined that the guitar could produce at the same time the different qualities of tone of the treble, of the bass, and harmonical complement required in a piece of this character, and without great difficulty, being within the scope of the instrument.” In the execution of this piece great clearness, taste and the power of singing on the instrument are required.

Sor’s duos for two guitars, while well harmonized lack the flowing melody and full harmony found in those of Carulli, and are certainly less interesting.

It may be truly said of Sor that in the clearness and directness of his music, the spontaneity of his melody, and in a certain charm pervading the whole, he was to the guitar what Mendelssohn was to the piano. Sor’s music contains no mere bravura writing, but possesses that grace, finish and charm for which Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words” are so remarkable.

Sor’s compositions for the guitar, Op. 1 to 33, are published by Heugel, Paris, and Op. 34 to 63 by Henry Lemoine. His method we believe is out of print, but a method compiled by Nap. Coste from the writings of Sor, with some additions by the compiler, is found in the catalogue of Lemoine.


The body of the guitar in correct position lies in the lap; the knees never crossed but the left foot on a rest six to twelve inches high as the player may prefer, so that, with the lower end of the guitar against the right thigh and the curve of the under side over the left thigh, the guitar is on an incline which can be made more or less by raising or lowering the left foot. In a short time the player will find the correct height of foot and thus the right incline of the instrument. Take now the normal position as has been indicated; that is place the fingers on the instrument for the common chord of C, remembering all that was said about the thumb. The first joint of each finger as it presses the string should be as near the perpendicular as possible and form the hammer, so that when dropping the finger (from the knuckle-joint remember) the first joint will fall surely and forcibly in place. The full bearing of this mode will be more clear especially in slurring. Again, the finger nails, within a very close margin for variation, should be parallel to the strings, and using care about the position of the thumb, one can approximate always very close to this rule. Two advantages result; with a well calloused finger the least amount of finger-tip is necessary to hold the string; and next there is the least amount of finger between the strings, thus reducing to a minimum the chances for vibrating strings to strike the fingers and produce the metallic sort of rattling which is exceedingly disagreeable to a good ear. No guitar player is near perfect who produces this rattling, and too much practice cannot be given to overcome the habit. 

In general, the player should always strive to retain a graceful position of the arm, for the best position for playing is the most graceful at all times. At the same time a fair latitude of allowance must be given for the size of person, size of instrument, relatively, and most of all, size of fingers. Let no player become discouraged because unable to do exactly what is laid down as correct; if that is impossible, rest content to do as near the right as can be, knowing that if not perfect, yet it is not wrong.


Ignorance, Boston, Mass., asks; “Please inform me in the MUSICALWORLD what is meant when I see printed on the top of a piece of guitar music ‘Tune the Guitar in E Major.’ When tuning the ordinary way the open strings are E, A, D, G, B and E. I play the guitar some, and have for many years, but I never knew nor did my teacher ever tell me what key the instrument was tuned in. I can play in several keys when so tuned. I also use the banjo accompaniments for some songs for which no guitar accompaniment is printed, as most banjo songs are in A and can be played very well on the guitar, but I am staggered in the same way by finding in the banjo music at the head of some pieces written in A, ‘Tune the Banjo to B.’ Please explain what this means also.”

Answer: In tuning the guitar in the key of E major, the first string is tuned to E, as usual, the second to B, the third to G sharp, the fourth to E, the fifth to B and the sixth to E. (See Brainard’s edition of Carcassi, page 115, and “Holland’s Modern Method for the Guitar,” page 98). When the guitar is tuned up to concert pitch the wire strings will not always stand the increase of tension of one whole tone, and for all practical purposes the first string may be tuned down to D, the second to A, the third to F sharp, the fourth and fifth tuned to D and A, as usual, and the sixth string let down to D, an octave lower than the fourth string. This tuning will serve for all pieces marked to be executed with the guitar tuned in E.

Ordinarily the first string of the banjo is tuned to B, second to G sharp, third to E, fourth to A and fifth to E; but when the banjo is to be played with concert pitch instruments it is tuned to C, thus: first string to D, second to B, third to G, fourth to C and fifth to G. The latter tuning not only corresponds with that of concert pitch instruments, but is more brilliant because a third higher than the ordinary tuning.

A. R. C., of Cairo, Ill., asks: “I feel the need of special practice for right hand fingering, and will be greatly obliged if you will advise me what to get for that purpose – something similar to five finger exercises for the piano.”

Answer: We can recommend nothing better than “Methode Pratique pour la Guitare, par Mauro Giuliani,” Op. l. This method is especially devoted to exercises for the right hand, as well as practice, in thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths and the ornaments. It is published by Richault & Co., Paris, and Artaria & Co., Vienna, and may be ordered through our publishers.

Inquirer, Springfield, Ill., asks: “Has any of Wagner’s music been arranged for the guitar?” 

Answer: A fantaisie on Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Hollander” (The Flying Dutchman) has been made by J. K. Mertz, and is a very pleasing arrangement of airs from that opera.

Miss C.H. M., Canton, O., asks: “Will you please inform me through the MUSICAL WORLD whether ‘Robin Adair’ has been arranged with variations for the guitar? The air is a favorite of mine, and I would like to get a good arrangement of it.”

Answer: “Robin Adair” has been arranged and varied for the guitar by Alphonse Deduc (Op. 8) and Mauro Giuliani (Op. 125). The fantaisie by Giuliani, a very brilliant arrangement, is still in print, being one of “Six Airs Irlandois Nationaux Varies” Op. 125, consisting of fantaisies on “Eveleen’s Bower,” “The Last Rose of Summer,” “Miss Bailey,” “Robin Adair,” “My Lodging is on the Cold Ground” and “Garry Owen.” These arrangements are published by Richault & Co., Paris, and Artaria & Co., Vienna, and may be ordered through S. Brainard’s Sons.

Vol. XXV, No. 10, Whole No. 298, October, 1888, p. 370-371

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 


Ferdinand Carulli, born in Naples February 10th, 1770, was the son of a distinguished writer who was secretary of the delegate of the Neapolitan jurisdiction. The first principles of music were taught Carulli by a priest, the instrument being the violoncello. The guitar, however, attracted his attention, and he abandoned the violoncello in order to apply himself to the study of the guitar. He pursued his studies under difficulties, for in Naples he could find neither teacher nor music. This was perhaps fortunate both for the student and the guitarists who came after him, for deprived of these resources Carulli was obliged to create them, to institute researches which led to the discovery of processes of execution unknown up to that time.

To understand and appreciate the improvements Carulli made in guitar music, and the art of playing the instrument, one must examine the guitar music or have heard the guitarists of the epoch which preceded that great artist. Arriving in Paris in April, 1808, he gave several concerts and created a perfect furore. No one had imagined that the guitar was capable of producing such music as came from under his fingers. The running violin passages with only such bass notes as could be produced on the open strings, or stopped notes of the first position, had given place to a perfect harmony in four parts. The idea that guitar playing must be confined to four or five keys was exploded, for Carulli played in all keys.

Nothing had been heard in Paris to equal his music, and Carulli soon found himself besieged with applications from publishers for his compositions, and from students for instruction. The genius of the artist was equal to the occasion, however, and he supplied the publishers with an immense quantity of compositions within a period of about twelve years. Full of new forms and effects, these compositions added greatly to his reputation, and were the only guitar music played at that time. Being the founder of a new school, Carulli was compelled among his early works to write many exercises, studies, and also a method, the success of which was so great that it passed through four large editions, and was translated and published in other countries. It was the only method deserving of the name which had been written up to that time, and all others were at once discarded. His compositions numbered nearly four hundred, many of them from fifty to one hundred pages.

Having seen his own school displace all others, and the art of playing the instrument perfected, Carulli in his last years composed but little for the guitar. Younger players and writers taught in his school had appeared upon the stage, and the great artist, feeling that his mission had been accomplished, led an easy and quiet life among friends and admirers in Paris, where he died in February, 1841.



Barre (French, to bar to stop) is a term used to indicate that one of the fingers of the left hand should extend across and press two or more strings of the guitar at the same time. In general, the barre may be said to be direct, or oblique, according as the finger extends across the strings in a direct or an oblique line. The direct barre is of two kinds:

1. The grand barre, where the finger extends across the gut strings and one or more of the wire strings.

2. The petit barre, where the finger extends across the gut strings only. For the direct barre a slight variation from the normal position of the left hand and arm, as heretofore given, is required, the variation being more or less according to the fret at which the barre is made. For the lower frets (those nearest the nut) the first finger, which is generally employed, must be given a direction parallel to the frets: to accomplish this, the elbow is brought closer to the side of the body, and the thumb drawn nearer to the lower edge of the neck of the guitar. The wrist is bent so as to allow the body of the hand to be thrown almost on a line with the finger board. The first finger (the thumb side always, not the palm side) is then laid straight across the strings in a line parallel with the frets. The construction of the hand is such that the vise-power necessary to be exerted by the thumb and first finger is much greater when the finger is laid on the thumb side, and in this position the finger is able to reach and press the strings firmly, producing a distinct and clear tone not otherwise obtained. On the upper frets the rule as to the lateral position of the finger cannot be fully observed but the player must always approximate to it as near as possible. 

The barre is said to be preparatory when the finger is extended across two or more strings in order to anticipate fingering for notes to be played not immediately, but before the finger is removed from the fret across which it is extended. The preparatory barre is used principally for slurred notes and suspended chords. It is also employed for chords with an open bass, where one or more of the upper notes must be pressed with that joint of the first finger next to the hand, the nail-joint immediately afterwards pressing a second bass note following the open bass string. For instance, the upper notes (quarter notes) being F and D (first and third frets of the first and second strings respectively) and the bass D open, (eighth note) followed by B flat (first fret fifth string), the F would be pressed with the joint of the first finger next to the hand, while the nail-joint would be held in readiness to press the B flat.

Both the grand barre and petit barre are used not only for chords composed of notes of equal duration, but to hold notes of longer duration while shorter ones are being played.

For the oblique barre the first or fourth finger is generally used, being employed on two adjacent strings in positions where, on account of other notes pressed simultaneously, the finger cannot be extended across the strings in a direct line nor laterally. For example, the chord composed of E open, C sharp, A and E, in the second position, would require the oblique barre to press A and E, the first finger being used.

The direct barre is sometimes used in connection with the oblique as, for example, E flat and A flat, first fret of the fourth and third strings, and E flat and A flat, fourth fret of the second and the first strings. The importance of the study of the barre is not generally understood by guitarists, and few can execute it with facility. The requisite strength and dexterity once acquired, all keys can be used on the guitar with almost the same facility as those ordinarily employed.


J. S., Cleveland, Ohio, asks: “Will you kindly explain in the next number of the MUSICAL WORLD what is meant by ‘Sul H,’ which I often find in guitar music of German publication?” Answer: H is the German name of the note B natural, the name B being reserved for B flat. Sul H, therefore, signifies that the note or notes to which it refers must be played on the B or second string of the guitar.

Inquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, asks: “I am puzzled as to why one of the parts of a march or minuet should be called Trio, and have been unable to get a satisfactory explanation. Please explain it in the next issue of the WORLD.”

Answer: The term Trio strictly implies a composition for three voices, three instruments, or in three parts. It is very often applied also to a division of a minuet, march, etc., and the origin of the practice is said to be that when, in times long gone by, to a first minuet (consisting of two parts) a second (also of two parts) was added, the latter for sake of variety was written in three parts, the former being usually in two parts only.

Guitarist, Indianapolis, Ind., asks: “I am practicing the ‘Spanish Fandango,’ and the piece is quite a favorite among my friends. Being asked the meaning of Fandango, I was at a loss to answer, and would be greatly obliged if you would tell me in the next number of the WORLD.”

Answer: The Fandango is a Spanish dance, a variety of the Seguidilla, and among the Spaniards was danced to the accompaniment of the guitar or castanets. Originally, the Fandango was in 6-8 time, of slow tempo, usually in the minor with a major trio, although sometimes the whole was in a major key. One Fandango has been published in this country, arranged by a number of writers, and is known to guitarists generally. Aguado, Op. 15, “Le Menuet Afandango Varie,” and Op. 16, “Le Fandango, Danse.” Espagnole has given two examples of the Fandango of his time.

Vol. XXV, No. 11, Whole No. 299, November, 1888, p. 410-411

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 



Carulli’s compositions, which number nearly four hundred, may be classed as follows:

  1. Methods.
  2. Studies.
  3. Concertos for guitar with accompaniment of small orchestra.
  4. Trios for guitar, violin and flute or alto.
  5. Trios tor guitars.
  6. Duos tor guitars, guitar and violin, guitar and flute, guitar and alto, guitar and piano.
  7. Sonatas, sonatines, divertisements, rondos, waltzes, dances, fantasies, etc., for guitar.

The “Methode Complete” was originally known as Op. 27, but the fifth edition was revised and enlarged, appearing as now published, and known as Op. 41. This work, which was written about 1809, was entirely different from anything which had preceded it, being the only guitar method really deserving of the name which had appeared up to that time. It is divided into three parts, the first containing explanation of the elementary principles of music, directions for holding the guitar and placing the hands, manner of fingering and striking the strings, followed by exercises, chords, scales and arpeggios in various keys. The second part is devoted to an explanation of slurred notes, appogiaturas, trills, harmonics and double notes, illustrated by exercises in the various positions. The third part contains six studies for practice in the positions, double notes and chords. While it may be said that Carulli’s method is somewhat deficient in text, leaving much to be explained by the teacher, yet in general arrangement, thorough adaptation of the exercises and studies for the instrument, and the classical character of the music, it has not been excelled.

Under the title of “Premiere Suite a la Methode, ou Methode pour accompagner le Chant,” Op, 61, Carulli wrote the first sequel to his method, a work designed for those who would in a few lessons learn in the principal keys the chords and arpeggios used for accompaniments. It was also intended to serve as a book of reference for musicians who, without having a knowledge of the instrument, might wish to write guitar accompaniments. The work contains in the different positions all the major and minor chords, arpeggios and passages which are ordinarily found in guitar accompaniments; these are followed by fourteen songs with accompaniments as illustrations of the preceding exercises. It contains sixty-three pages and is said to be the only work of the kind ever published.

A second sequel to the method followed shortly afterwards under the title of “Second Sequel to the Methode, or Exercises in Arpeggios, Modulations, Thirds, Sixths, Octaves, Tenths, Slurred and Detached Notes in all Keys and Positions, carefully fingered,” Op, 71. The first part of this work contains six grand preludes, giving exercises in arpeggios, modulations and the barre in all keys and positions. The second part presents six studies for practice of thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths and detached notes, and is concluded with a grand caprice designed to familiarize the pupil with the difficulties likely to be met with in guitar music.

Some years later Carulli wrote a number or exercises, scales and pieces to be used in connection with his method, which were published under the title of “Supplement to the Methode, or the First Year of Study of the Guitar,” Op. 192. This is an elementary work containing scales, exercises and studies, arranged according to each heading in the original method, to which reference is made by page and heading. While primarily intended to supply additional practice for those using the method, the Supplement is carefully fingered, and so arranged as to be adapted for use as an independent work.

 “L’Anti-Methode, ou l’Eleve Guide par le Maitre,” Op. 272, is a carefully written method, in which the exercises are not only progressive and carefully fingered for both hands, so as to serve as practice in scales, chords, double notes, positions, etc., but are suitable to be played as society pieces. This work contains fifty pieces progressively arranged, and two grand fantaisies. The author states in the preface that while he has composed many collections of progressive pieces none of them were written with the care which he has bestowed on these; that the pieces in the first part are so easy, and the difficulties presented so gradually that the pupil after being taught the notes can immediately make use of “L’Anti-Methode.”

To Carulli we are also indebted for an original work, “L’Harmonie Appliquee a la Guitar” (Harmony Applied to the Guitar), a treatise on accompaniment based on a regular theory of harmony. This work was published in 1825, and was the only one of the kind which had then appeared. The author states that it is not a complete work on harmony or composition, because, treating of the guitar on which the means of execution are limited, he confined himself to the capabilities of the instrument, without however omitting anything required. The introduction and first chapters are devoted to definitions, theory of intervals and their inversions, consonants and dissonants, and general designations of the notes of the scale. In the chapter on consonant chords, after explaining that the fingering of the guitar often compels the arrangement of the notes of a chord in a manner favorable to its execution, the author gives illustrations in all the keys of the possible arrangements of the triad, in the direct form and each inversion, which can be executed on the instrument. The same course is pursued with the dissonant chords, and the chapters following are devoted to explanations of the proper employment of chords, and how to determine which chord must accompany each note of a song. Passing notes, forms of accompaniment, and transposition are then treated of. Having arrived at this point the author proceeds to explain the theory which he has developed. This he does in three ways: first, by arranging from the piano accompaniment of a song, a guitar accompaniment based on the same harmony; second, by pursuing the same course with the score of an orchestral accompaniment; third, by composing an accompaniment for a song unprovided with one. In order to afford full explanations on the subject, he adds seven pieces of different kinds with piano accompaniments, from which he has arranged and placed below accompaniments for the guitar, with explanatory notes. These pieces are followed by four airs with orchestral accompaniment, from which guitar accompaniments are arranged and placed below by way of illustration. The work is concluded with twelve pieces of different kinds, with guitar accompaniments, to serve as models for students or amateurs who wish to practice writing guitar accompaniments tor songs or airs.



The word position is used to denote; in connection with stringed instruments, the situation or position in which the left hand is placed in executing a note, chord, phrase or strain of a piece of music. On the guitar, each fret at which the first finger may be employed is said to be a position, and as that finger may be used any where on the finger board from the first to the fourteenth fret, there are strictly speaking fourteen positions. The hand having four fingers, each position will embrace four frets; that is, the fret at which the first finger may be placed and the three frets following and corresponding with the second, third and fourth fingers. Thus, if the first finger be placed at the first fret, the second, third and fourth fingers will rest on or over the second, third and fourth frets, which are all included in the first position because the first finger is at the time at the first fret.

If the first finger be placed at the third fret, the second, third and fourth fingers will rest on or over the fourth, fifth and sixth frets, which are all included in the third position, so named because it commences with and extends upward from the third fret at which the first finger is placed at the time. If the hand be again moved upward so that the first finger is placed at the seventh fret, it will be in the seventh position, which will, in like manner, include the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth frets. The first finger cannot conveniently be used higher than the fourteenth fret, the position connected with which includes the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth frets. So, while there are eighteen frets on the instrument, there are practically only fourteen positions.

In order to reach a note lower by one fret than the position in which the hand may be placed at the time, the first finger is sometimes drawn back one fret into a preceding position, without carrying the other fingers with it. Thus, the hand being in the ninth position, if it should be necessary to produce C natural at the eight fret of the first string, the first finger is drawn back one fret, and after pressing the note resumes its former place. In such cases the hand is not considered as having been removed from the original position.

It will be apparent from what has been said that the same note can be produced in different positions, on different strings, and different fingers. For instance, the note F, naturally taken in the first position by the first finger on the first string, can be produced as follows:

  • On first string by first finger in first position,
  • ” second ”        ” fourth  ”       ”  third     “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” third     ”       ”  fourth   “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” second ”       ”  fifth      “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” first      ”       ”  sixth     “
  • ”   third  ”        ” fourth   ”       ”  seventh “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” third     ”       ”  eighth   “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” second ”       ”  ninth     “
  • ”      ”     ”        ” first      ”       ”  tenth     “
  • ”   fourth”        ” fourth   ”       ”  eleventh “

While every note lying within the compass of a position can be produced in that position, yet the choice of position for rendering a phrase or passage is made on grounds of mechanical necessity, of convenience, or of quality of sound.

Mechanical necessity. Two notes lying on the same string, both being in the compass of the first, or any other position, cannot be executed as double notes in that position. Such double notes as F sharp and A natural, second and fifth frets of first string, cannot be played in second position, but the hand may be carried to the fifth position where F sharp can be fingered at the seventh fret of the second string, and A at the fifth fret of the first string.

Convenience. In the execution of a passage containing notes of different range, it is more convenient to play all the notes in the same position, where practicable, than to jump from one position to another, which would otherwise be necessary in order to reach them.

Quality of sound. Where sameness of sound is required in cantabile passages, the change from one string to another must if possible be avoided. The second and fourth strings being more sonorous than the first and third, are sometimes used to play passages ordinarily played on the latter strings.

A complete command of the finger board in all positions is indispensable in guitar playing, and this is to be acquired in the shortest time through study of thirds and sixths, in the knowledge of which, says Ferdinand Sor, is the entire key to the mastery of the guitar.


Miss M., Cincinnati, O., asks: “How does the vibration of a string reach the sounding board of the guitar so as to make it vibrate?”

Answer: The strings of stringed instruments rest upon their bridges, which rest upon the sounding boards to which they transmit the vibrations of the strings.

Guitarist, Evansville. Ind., writes: “I have a piece of music called “La Cachucha,” and would like to know what the title means.”

Answer: “Cachucha” is a Spanish word, the name of a Spanish national dance, first brought into general notice by the celebrated danseuse Fannie Elssler, who introduced it in the ballet or “Le diable boiteux.” The music is in 3-4 time, and similar to the Bolero. The dance tune was originally sung with guitar accompaniment.

Classical, Detroit, Mich., asks: “What is the meaning of the work classical as applied to music?”

Answer: This term may be said to mean “of the first class, or first rank,” and in music is applied to works in the form which were adopted by the older, universally acknowledged masters, whose works have held their place in general estimation for a considerable length of time. The term is also applied to new works of the same general style and form, as instrumental works in the sonata form and operas constructed after the received traditions.

Finger Board, Peru, Ind., asks: “One of the frets of my guitar is loose. How can I make it firm?”

Answer: Put it in place with a little good glue well worked around the fret, and then tighten a capo d’astro over the fret to remain until the glue has dried.

Vol. XXV, No. 12, Whole No. 300, December, 1888, p. 450

The Guitar

TO CORRESPONDENTS: –All personal letters for the Editor of the Guitar Department should be addressed to JUSTIN M. HOLLAND, Box 1905, New Orleans, La.

All business communications, subscriptions, orders for music, books, etc., should be addressed to S. BRAINARD’S SONS, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our complete catalogue of guitar music will be mailed free to any one on application. 



It is frequently the case that great musical geniuses do not appreciate the difficulties which less gifted persons experience in the study of instrumental music. Carulli was certainly an exception, for not only were his several methods carefully graded, but be wrote a large number of studies, collections of easy and progressive pieces, and lessons particularly designed for beginners on the guitar. One of the most valuable of these collections is “L’Utile et L’Agreable” (The Useful and the Agreeable) known as Op. 114, a collection of about 90 pages of studies, comprising 48 preludes and 24 pieces carefully fingered, and leading from the easiest music in the popular keys to the most difficult airs and variations in the sharp and flat keys.

A very useful collection of easy pieces for beginners is “Un Peu de Tout” (A Little of Everything), Op. 276, consisting of about 70 pages of rondos, polonaises, Sicliennes, airs from operas, etc., carefully fingered and progressively arranged. A unique collection of preludes is presented in Op. 265, “Improvisations Musicales,” comprising 54 brilliant preludes in various keys to be committed to memory and used as introductions to society pieces. Among other collections for one or two guitars may be mentioned Op. 72 (24 popular airs for one or two guitars); Op. 120 (Collection of Easy and Progressive Pieces for one or two guitars); Op. 333 (Grand Collection of Progressive Pieces for one or two guitars); and 24 duos for two guitars. 

Carulli’s concertos for guitar with accompaniment of small orchestra are now out of print. Of these there were three: Op. 140, Concerto for Guitar with accompaniment of two violins, alto, bass, two hautboys, two horns and double bass; Op. 207, Two Solos for Guitar with accompaniment of violin, alto and bass, or piano-forte; Op. 208, Two Nocturnes for Guitar, Violin, Alto and Bass, or Guitar and Piano-forte.

Carulli’s trios are nearly all out of print. We have in our library the following for guitar, violin and alto, or flute; Op. 103, Three trios concertants; Op. 119, Three Nocturnes; Op. 123, Fantasie; Op. 149, Three Divertisments; Op. 213, Overture of “Tancredi;” Op. 240, Overture of “Othello:” Op. 254, Nocturne. The trios for guitars, Op. 92, 131 and 255, were published by Carli, Paris, but are now out of print.

As a writer of duos for two guitars, Carulli has had no equal. Of these he wrote a large number, among which the following may be mentioned as particularly brilliant and pleasing:

  • Op. 34, Six petits duos dialoguees.
  • Op. 57, Trois petits duos dialoguees.
  • Op. 89, Trois duos.
  • Op. 96, Trois serenades.
  • Op. 118, Nocturne concertante.
  • Op. 128, Six petits duos nocturnes.
  • Op. 143, Trois nocturnes concertantes.
  • Op. 146, Trois petits duos.
  • Op. 148, Nocturne.
  • Op. 290, Rondo et introduction sur un motif d’un duo de l’opera La Dame Blanche.
  • Op. 302, Rondo sur la Barcarole favorite de Fiorella.

A particularly pleasing feature in Carulli’s guitar duets is that the leading part alternates from the first to the second guitar, the accompaniment not being a mere succession of chords as in the duos of most writers.

In his duos for guitar and other instruments, the guitar is given the leading part, the other instruments generally being only an accompaniment. This class of duos consists principally of sonatas, divertisments, rondos, waltzes, fantasies and airs with variations for guitar with accompaniment of violin flute, alto or piano. A number of these compositions are still published in France and Germany, and can be obtained by those who desire them.

Carulli’s solo pieces for the guitar comprise sonatas, sonatines, divertisments, rondos, waltzes, dances, fantasies, etc., and number over 200. Distinguished by artistic finish and close adherence to classical forms and rules, his compositions abound in pleasing melodies of easy and natural flow, bringing out the characteristic effects of the instrument in a brilliant manner. From the time of publication these pieces enjoyed general popularity, and for a number of years were the only guitar music used in Paris.

Carulli took up the guitar without music or teacher, but his was a genius that literally created something out of nothing. So perfect did he make his school that with two or three exceptions the guitarists who have since appeared have adopted no feature or effects not found in his original works, and while the guitar exists Ferdinand Carulli will be remembered as the genius who did more than all others to bring the art of guitar playing to its present state of perfection.


A matter of prime consideration in practice of any kind is the proper position of the player. Equally important is correct placing of the instrument and hands – all of which has been hitherto described. The object of practice for general improvement is the acquirement of a knowledge of the finger board, work for the left hand, and force and agility in striking the strings with the right hand. The duties of the hands, although correlative, are essentially different, and the training of the right hand is a matter of greater importance, requiring more time than that of the left hand.

In training the right hand the first thing to be acquired is the “step motion,” the alternate use of the first and second fingers in scale passages, arpeggios of three notes, and repeated notes. The next thing to be considered is the strengthening of the third finger which is effected mainly through practice of chords and arpeggios of four notes. Giuliani and Mertz, alone of the European guitarists, have provided practical studies especially designed for training the right hand. A number of these studies have been reproduced in “Holland’s Method” which we recommend for this purpose to those not having the works first mentioned. These exercises in connection with the scales and chords to be found in most methods, should be made a part of the daily practice, as pianists make use of scales and finger excises. It is also of great benefit to practice frequently exercises in thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths. One who has not experienced it will be surprised at the great improvement in fingering which will be apparent after a few weeks of such practice.

Mechanical exercises should not, of course, be used to the exclusion of all other practice, but when guitarists come to realize the benefits to be derived from practice of mechanical exercises we shall have a greater number of good performers on the instrument. 


Hand, Cleveland, O., writes: “We have had a dispute and agreed to refer the matter to you; which is the best hand for playing the guitar, one with long, tapering fingers, or one with short, square fingers.”

Answer. Those who profess to believe in “Chiromancy” tell us that the smooth, conical fingers belong to the spiritual, the artist hand, while the knotty, square fingers indicate power and love of precision; that poetry and song belong especially to the former, and instrumentation to the latter. Aguado states that fingers a little long and tapering are preferable for guitarists – not too long, for the advantage to the left hand in that case would be a disadvantage to the right band. It has been our experience, however, that while the possessors of tapering fingers make expressive players, those with square tips become the most correct and skilled guitarists.

Exercise, Indianapolis, Ind., asks: “What is the difference, if any, between exercises, lessons and studies?”

Answer. Musical exercises are designed to familiarize the student with the application of certain rules or theories; lessons are designed as exercises, not necessarily in connection with a single rule, but generally including also rules previously employed in preceding lessons; musical studies may be defined as exercises on exceptions, or on rules offering difficulties in their application.


The publishers of the MUSICAL WORLD have concluded to discontinue the Guitar Department, and this will be, therefore, its last appearance. The many guitarists who have been interested in the information given each month cannot feel more sorrow over the fact than does the editor, who has freely given much time and study to arousing an interest in this beautiful instrument. The labor was great, for the guitar has been neglected almost half a century; information had to be secured from many sources, and mostly from French and German works. Even music necessary to enable a judgment of several of the authors whose biographies have been given had to be imported, and not a little was found to be out of print. But if in a few hearts a love has been awakened for the guitar, the writer feels that his labor was not in vain, and in parting he returns most heartfelt and cordial thanks for the sympathy and assurances or appreciation he has from time to time received.


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