FRANZ SCHU­BERT Swan Ser­e­nade

Aus­trian com­poser Schu­bert fea­tures for the first time in this se­ries with a sim­ple but el­e­gant melody tran­scribed for us

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - By Brid­get Mermikides.

Brid­get Mermikides ar­ranges and tran­scribes an­other cap­ti­vat­ing piece for solo ny­lon-string gui­tar, this time from the Aus­trian ge­nius.

In this is­sue we are go­ing to tackle for the first time a work by the great com­poser Franz Schu­bert. De­spite barely reach­ing his 30s, Schu­bert pro­duced over one and a half thou­sand works, in­clud­ing 20 string quar­tets, seven com­pleted sym­phonies, sev­eral masses and op­eras and a stag­ger­ing num­ber (over 600) songs for pi­ano and voice. In one year alone he com­posed over 20,000 bars of mu­sic (half of them for or­ches­tra).

Through­out this re­mark­able pro­duc­tiv­ity, he demon­strated an ac­tive ex­per­i­men­tal­ism and bril­liance; and de­vel­oped his style to great ma­tu­rity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. With his cre­ativ­ity and out­put only in­creas­ing, Schu­bert’s life was trag­i­cally struck short by an ill­ness. His ge­nius was largely only recog­nised by a cir­cle of friends and as­tute lis­ten­ers but he has since joined the pan­theon of great com­posers of Western Art mu­sic.

Here I’ve se­lected one of the last pieces Schu­bert com­posed, from his col­lec­tion of 14 songs for pi­ano and voice (writ­ten in his fi­nal year and only pub­lished posthu­mously) known as Sch­wa­nenge­sang (Swan Song). Th­ese songs were later tran­scribed for solo pi­ano by Franz Liszt and since then for a range of en­sem­bles and in­stru­ments. I’ve cho­sen No 4 from the set known sim­ply as Ständ­chen (Ser­e­nade) a set­ting of a poem by the Ger­man poet Lud­wig Rell­stab in which the pro­tag­o­nist urges his sweet­heart to ful­fill him.

The sim­ple and el­e­gant melody is sup­ported by a so­phis­ti­cated bit­ter-sweet har­mony that com­bines the chords from both A Mi­nor and A Mi­nor with sup­ple voice-lead­ing with ex­tra­or­di­nary deft­ness and ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Rhyth­mi­cally, there are num­ber of ex­am­ples of qua­ver triplets over crotchet ac­com­pa­ni­ments (eg bars 5-7) that re­quire a re­laxed ab­sorp­tion of that rhythm as well as tech­ni­cal co­or­di­na­tion, so make sure that you

YOU’LL NEED A DE­GREE OF FLU­ENCY IN YOUR FRET­TING HAND AS MANY OF TH­ESE CHORD SHIFTS RE­QUIRE A LEVEL OF FA­MIL­IAR­ITY WITH THE WORK

ex­e­cute th­ese cor­rectly with­out rush­ing ei­ther voice. You’ll also need to de­velop a de­gree of flu­ency in your fret­ting hand as many of th­ese chord shifts re­quire a level of fa­mil­iar­ity with the work. It’s also es­sen­tial you un­der­stand what the melody is that you are try­ing to ex­press, so do lis­ten to the record­ing and the sug­gested lis­ten­ing so that you can play this won­der­ful piece with your own ex­pres­sion.

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