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PAGANINI: Mel Bay presents Paganini for Acoustic Guitar. Arranged by Ben Bolt: Sheet Music & CD set

PAGANINI –Arranged by Ben Bolt

Mel Bay : 107 pages

This large book contains 25 little works by the violin virtuoso Paganini. Not everyone however will know that he also played guitar, not, I gather, to the same standard as his legendary violin performing, but still to a decent standard.

The first thing to say about this book is that I find the first 44 pages largely irrelevant, as they contain English, Spanish, French and Japanese instructions in how to read music and tab. If anyone cannot do either at the point of buying this book, then the difficulty of the pieces is such that they wouldn’t be able to play them anyway!

That said, my only other quibble about the book is the word ‘arranged’. Ben Bolt doesn’t go into any details as to what exactly he did, and from what source. Does that mean that all the pieces were violin works, then? Surely if some were original guitar works, what exactly did he do to ‘arrange ‘them, unless we are talking of adding the tab to every piece, which of course isn’t exactly arranging the pieces at all. Also he , I presume, leaves the pieces in the written manner that Paganini wrote them, in other words no part- writing at all, but everything on the same stem , most of the time. Therefore in a passage involving semi – quavers accompanying a top melody , and a bass line underneath, all the notes would be incorporated into the semi – quavers , and it is up to the player to bring out what one presumes to be the melody, and the bass lines.

However if you can get past my problems in the first part of this review, then let me say that the pieces, whilst they are classical in form and harmonies throughout, a lot of the time the odd harmony , or the occasional sequence is a little different from your average Giuliani, or other guitarists’ music from this period. Therefore they are just different enough to be quite pleasant to play, and at times are not too difficult, and therefore might be ideal for your moderate player who likes the idea of trying some Paganini.

As witnessed by the recording that comes with the book, there is only one piece more than 2 minutes long, and a considerable amount of them, not even reaching a minute in length, and so they truly are miniatures in every sense of the word.

So if this style of music is one you have considered looking at , then nothing here will offend your ears, just don’t however expect anything to be truly ground – breaking in its style or musical harmonies, that’s all.

Chris Dumigan

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