Four Big, Fat Books of Music: Sight-reading; Contemporary Guitar Composers of the Americas; Baroque Guitar; Easy Preludes

Andrew York has 3 pieces in 'Contemporary Guitar Composers of the Americas'

Generally when we write about sheet music books online, we’re talking about individual pieces or perhaps a set of pieces by the same composer. But we also receive larger method/ instructional books, which we tend not to review in the magazine but might be of interest to some of you out there.

Here are four that arrived in our offices in the last few months. We’ve provided links directly to the publishers, but they also might be available from other purveyors of sheet music you use:

A Semester at Sight: A daily primer for improving sight-reading on the guitar
By Bryan Johanson
Les Productions’ d’Oz, 224 pp

Ninety days of exercises and short pieces by a wide variety of composers designed to turn you into a comfortable music sight-reader.

From the publisher:
1. Becoming a good reader on the guitar is a matter of study, practice, experience, intelligence, and common sense.
2. Becoming a good reader will involve reading.
3. Tempo and meter matter first. When you begin to read a piece, never break the tempo or alter the beat pattern that is dictated by the meter signature. If the piece is difficult, go slow. You need to develop the ability to keep perfect time.
4. Your goal in reading a fresh piece of music is to gather several pieces of information about the composition: how hard is it, where are the technical passages, what does it sound like on the instrument, and do you like it?
5. Stay relaxed; avoid overplaying. Always remain free of tension in both hands.
6. Good sight-reading is an extension of good musicianship.
7. Remember to breathe.
8. Develop good work habits and practice routines.
9. Be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities.”

Contemporary Guitar Composers of the Americas
Compiled by Guillermo Diego and William Bay
Mel Bay, 196 pages

From the publisher:
“Contemporary Guitar Composers of the Americas is a unique collection of 51 solo works representing 17 composers from the American continents. This anthology addresses continental guitar music; music from North, Central and South America. It features many composers who have helped to enrich its repertoire, giving rise to a diverse palette of styles, textures, rhythms, moods and melodies. A worthwhile addition to the library of any classical guitarist.”


Among the many composers represented are Juan Falú, Javier Contreras, Frederic Hand, Andrew York, Charles Postlewate, and the two compilers of the book. Intermediate.

Listen to Andrew York perform his Higher Ground, included in the book:

Essential Baroque Guitar
By Stephen Siktberg
Mel Bay, 152 pp.

From the publisher:
“A comprehensive volume of musical selections from the masters of the Baroque period. Pieces selected for this book required little alteration from their original manuscripts and preserve their composers’ original intent. Left-hand fingerings have been included extensively, right-hand fingerings are left up to the performer. Requirements for altered tunings and suggestions for capo use are indicated at the beginning of each piece where applicable. Contains suggested barres, natural harmonics and ornamentations. Written in standard notation. An excellent collection for the library of any classic guitarist.”

Eight composers are represented, and their all heavies: Pachelbell, Purcell, Couperin, Rameau, Scarlatti. Telemann, handel, and Bach. Intermediate-advanced.

Stephen Skitberg plays Henry Purcell’s Air in E minor, a piece included in the book:

Preludio: 130 Easy Concert Pieces from 6 Centuries
Edited by Martin Hegel
Schott, 124 pp.

We published something about this book earlier this year, but thought it was worth mentioning again in this roundup of larger publications.

From the publisher:
Preludio contains 130 easy, attractive performance pieces from six centuries, thus offering the most important pieces for beginners’ guitar lessons in one comprehensive volume. The repertoire is ideal for first performances at music schools, as pieces for competitions and examinations or just as a ‘treasure trove’ for teachers, pupils, students, and guitar lovers. The selected pieces can be played in the second to fourth year of guitar lessons. They are divided chronologically into five chapters and arranged progressively according to their level of difficulty. Each chapter refers to another epoch: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and early 20th century modern, pop and world music. The result is a tune book which can already be used during or immediately after studying any guitar method.”