Rod Whittle : Surface Tension, Daisy Chains, & Across the Seas from Spain:Tremolo Pieces for guitar
Bergmann Edition: 22 pages
I have lately received two books from Australian – born Rod Whittle, both involving tremolo technique. The other book of arrangements of classical works is being reviewed separately. This book has three of Whittle’s own compositions. As guitarists the world over realize, tremolo technique is not the easiest to achieve successfully, and there are many brilliant players who struggle with it. However a book of pieces that take you away from the usual fare of Recuerdos and the suchlike is only to be welcomed, especially if the pieces are worth playing in themselves.
Surface Tension is an Andante 3 / 4 in A Major, and after the first couple of bars where the tremolo notes are written out long hand, the publisher then shortens the bars by putting a repeat sign against the notes, to enable more bars to fit the page, which is absolutely fine, and totally understandable. The piece gradually moves around various positions, reaching up to the ninth position at one point, but the hand positions are not too difficult, and so time can be taken improving your tremolo technique. The melody is quite pleasant also, with warm harmonies.
Daisy Chains is a slower work, marked Largo – con Rubato (after a non- tremolo introduction) and is set in 6/8.This piece evolves a little further than the previous as it now introduces harmonics on the bass notes, more melody notes that move around quicker, and a section where the bass note is a rest and you are meant to carry on playing the 3 tremolo notes without a bass note to keep your rhythm steady, which is not the easiest of techniques. It is also considerably longer, and as it moves around more, is quite a workout for the fingers.
The final work, Across the Seas from Spain, is in Bm, and is in 6/8 marked Andante Con Rubato, and covers similar areas to the others, in that it has a warm melody, and plenty of positional places for your barres, whilst continuing the tremolo technique above, and is yet another pleasant and useful piece.
All in all it is refreshing to find some new pieces in tremolo style. They are relatively rare still amongst guitar works, and so three more can only be a good thing, and I think most guitarists will benefit from polishing their technique a little more; I know I did!