illustrations: Małgorzata Flis
editor: Marcin Kowalczyk, Jadwiga Kubieniec
number of pages: 28
When one hears the word “étude” we often think of a complicated piece of music, whose main goal is didactic. The Characteristic Études are far from this as alongside the technical requirements they demand, there is an equal stress on artistic qualities such as: melody, varied textures, and a plethora of rhythmic as well as harmonic devices. The compositions are stylistically differentiated, each audibly bringing to mind popular forms of classical and popular music (ballades, lullabies, Latin American dances, Irish folk music, ragtime etc.).
The études in the first volume aid in developing left-hand technical skills such as: playing legato (Irish Étude), intervallic sequences (Étude in a Folk Style, Étude – Ragtime, Étude – Ballade, Étude “Tanguero”), scale runs (Étude – Humoresque, Scale Étude), barré (Étude – Impression), playing in the high position (Étude for Dreamers), independent motion of fingers (Étude – Milonga, Étude in C Major); whereas in the right hand the assorted études will aid in developing various fingering approaches (eg. simultaneous attack, arpeggio in various configurations: Kurpie Étude, Minimalist Étude). In several études I have introduced guitar effects: pizzicato, harmonics, tamburo, chordal playing (eg. Fingerstyle Étude, to simplify memorization there are symbols above the chords).
Care has also been taken to prepare the performer before each composition and the challenges it presents. This is done by including short exercises before each étude: a compilation of fingerings for the left hand, various fingering schemes for the right hand, as well as exercises dedicated to developing proper (i.e. alternate) fingering technique. Playing with the alternating fingering (i-m) as well as using the a finger as a supplement is one of the most difficult technical elements; when the player encounters “atypical” elements (eg. legato, changes in position, complicated rhythms) the right hand tends to “automatically” forsake playing with proper fingering technique. Before attempting to work on the études it is suggested to work on precisely executing the exercises on open strings.