Rodrigo’s Fandango and Lateral Fingering (after E.del Bono)



An attempt of restoration


This blog is proposed as a guide for all those who want to deepen some musical and instrumental aspects of this masterpiece. The work will develop in two directions:


  1. Present solutions for difficult-to-perform passages (according to the articulation and phrasing prescribed by Rodrigo).

  2. To warn against frequent errors of a more purely musical order (solfege, articulation, voicing, dynamics etc.) which have been repeated through decades (hence the quote in the title).

It goes without saying that the two aspects will flow together, influencing each other.

However, I would like to underline that absolute priority has always been given to an adherent realization of all musical elements which can be observed in the Schott edition and in the manuscript, a manuscript, however, that seems to have already been corrected for publication (as can be inferred from the word 'corregido', corrected, on the top of the first page). The consultation of Segovia's recording of the piece in 1958 has also been illuminating.


The first 3 bars


The first 3 bars function as a refrain during the whole piece (even if they show themselves in different forms); it will, therefore, be very important and useful to dwell on them with the due abundance of details:



Forte doesn’t always mean loud


What does the change of dynamics from FF to F actually mean? To answer this question, we should first put ourselves in the shoes of Rodrigo, pianist and orchestrator, and think how he would orchestrate this passage. The four initial chords are clearly a 'Tutti', while the following motif clearly recalls a solo flute, which is accompanied by a bassoon in bar 3 for the tonal cadence. This might be a quite reliable orchestration:



It is clear that a flute solo after a Tutti, even if played in Forte, will be, by contrast, much weaker than the chords. Dynamic signs do not indicate an absolute value in decibels. The factual dynamics on the guitar should therefore be:


In addition to the dynamic contrast, a contrast of color could be added, playing the ‘solo’ towards the bridge.



Rhythm and articulation of the Fandango



Here the basic rhythmical pattern and articulation of the Fandango:


This leaves no doubt about the fact that the 16ths should be played staccato:


Segovia, for its part, doesn’t play them with a slur in its recording. Here some famous Fandango’s from our repertoire.

  • D.Scarlatti, Sonata K.380:



  • D.Aguado, Fandango variado, op.16:



As we can see, the 16ths must be played staccato in both examples.


How to translate this articulation into guitar technique without changing the meaning of it?


The following group of 7 tied notes at bar 3 presents considerable problems for a convincing realization on the guitar of the articulation requested by the composer:


Since this element will resonate 7 times during the whole piece, it will be convenient to find a unique and convincing solution for its realization. A fully legato performance is possible only in few cases where this figure occurs. Over more, it is quite difficult to have perfect control of such a long left-hand slur. Considering that the bow (according to its nature) means in this case that the final G # must be played very lightly, without being accentuated (although, in many performances, this note is strongly accentuated), an easy and logical solution to this problem might be the following:

The E is left to sound in order to create a sense of legato that could be interrupted due to the change of string. We can then apply successfully this fingering pattern all the other times.


What a mistake...


The last beat of the third bar is instead a place of sensational rhythmic errors.


  • Original:

  • Incredible frequent errors:

  • or even:

The difference between embellishments before and on the beat is essential for a striking rhythmical performance of some typical figures of Spanish music. Those on the beat, as in our case, are written with real values ​​and the first note is accentuated. Those before the beat are instead indicated with two small notes before the real note and, especially in Spanish music from 19th-20th century in particular, with a ‘mordente’ sign. In this case, the main note on the beat will be accentuated.

  • I.Albeniz, Asturias:



Studying the passage in the following way will put you in a position to avoid making the above mentioned serious rhythmical mistakes:


The arpeggiated E major chord


The following arpeggiated chord of E major is almost always performed with the wrong articulation.


  • Original:


  • Standard articulation by guitar performances:


There is no question that this arpeggio should be played legato, so why do we hear it, almost always, performed in the above-mentioned way?


Someone, however, could rightly point out that it is factually impossible to play the E major completely legato. There is no logical, linear way to do it. And it is at this point that 'Lateral Thinking' (LT) comes into play. Its basic concept (conceived by the Maltese physician and psychologist E.del Bono) is that if you cannot go in a straight line from A to B because of an interposed obstacle, you must go through a semicircle by going around it:



The LT, therefore, invites us to exit the logical system and enter the creative one. Thanks to the LT we can look for a Lateral Fingering (LF) and let finally this chord sound legato thanks to a simple exchange of place/octave between the second and third notes of the arpeggio:



By pushing to the extreme the principles of the LF, one could even manage to maintain the original pitch of the sounds simply by performing the G # as a harmonic octave. A little more difficult but certainly feasible:

I was very excited when I found out on a Youtube video that my beloved friend and terrific musician Ricardo Gallen came to the same exact lateral solution! It feels so good to be in such great company :)


Even if two bars before the corresponding chord of A major is perfectly playable as it is written, it would be preferable, for the sake of symmetry, to change it in the same way:



Let’s take a rest...it is written!


Another very frequent, crucial mistake is observed in the following passage:


The new, beautiful theme clearly presents a sixteenth rest (blue circled), which however is stubbornly ignored in many performances. The subdivision of the phrase in 2 short and 1 longer phraseological element (red squared) is through this decision irreparably damaged. This theme is repeated 4 times during this section of the piece.



An acoustic, deceptive, illusion


To me it is also absolutely inconceivable the reiterative mistake with which the following passage is normally played:


The red circled D of the melody is clearly a 1/4 note. Yet, many guitarists still insist on playing the accompaniment note (D) immediately after it on the 2nd string. The ruinous consequence is that the perception of the melody become as follow:

Here some possible solutions for playing this bar correctly:

or:



Here how Segovia’s handled (laterally thinking) this issue (a quite interesting option, indeed):


Segovia plays it correctly (yet with some changes on the second beat); strangely enough, this has not left a mark in the history of interpretation of this passage. In the corresponding passage in F the situation looks the same:


The blue circled A interrupts the resonance of the red squared C if played on the {1} string and becomes itself, in the factual perception, a note of the melody:


In this case, you don't even need to use the Lateral Fingering, all you need is just a suitable one:


Anyways, if we exit the logical system and seek a more 'lateral' fingering, we can find very interesting solutions (remaining at the 6th and 5th position):


or even (holding the F in the bass line):




The last examples of this blog concern passages which have always been read incorrectly (this time because of misprints).

The first one.


  • Schott edition:


  • Manuscript:



As we can see, the red circled natural sign clearly belongs to the A (which was previously sharpened, blue circled) and not to the G. Again, despite Segovia having recorded it correctly, the wrong version of Schott has established itself over the decades as the 'correct' one.

Here the second passage:



In the manuscript the G indicated by the red arrow has a clear sharp:


In the edition they simply forgot to add the sharp to the G. Indeed, we can see that the fingering of that chord clearly indicates that the G must be played with the 1st finger (blue arrow), which is an unmistakable sign that the G is sharpened.


To conclude, I would like to highlight the fact that Segovia's recording is incredibly far from its own version published by Schott. Perhaps this should give some thought to some exegetes of the Spanish guitarist. Why do they get so upset if someone plays a different note from his edition if he himself radically changed so much his own revisions?

Please, check his recording, it is really interesting!


Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_smVjyBhls

For those who might find it interesting, I offer on my website a live online lecture (with PowerPoint) on the Fandango with many more examples and thoughts on the topic (carlo-marchione.com).


I thank you heartily for having read this blog until the end and hope it will be of some use for you. Please, share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, they are very welcome! Take care and see you next time!


Sincerely,

Carlo

P.S. My most sincere thanks to Paolo Quircio for the correction of the English text!

P.S.2 Schools from over 20 countries have included de Bono's thinking tools into their curriculum.

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