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Oxford University Press publishes major work for classical guitar

Christopher Berg’s second book this year has been released

Guitarist Christopher Berg, a University of South Carolina Distinguished Professor, has published a second new book this year. Oxford University Press has released The Classical Guitar Companion.

“This is the book we’ve been waiting for,” wrote Stanley Yates, professor of music, Austin Peay State University. “With The Classical Guitar Companion, we have at last a technical approach to studying the guitar that places our principal pedagogical repertoire within a framework of contemporary pedagogical thinking.”

The Classical Guitar Companion offers a synthesis of scholarly detail, historical fingering and performance practices, and modern practice strategies. Berg connects these to the development of artistry and ease in performance. The book contains hundreds of music examples, exercises and pieces from the heritage of literature for the guitar and lute, focusing primarily on the former.

Unlike traditional methods that attempt to shepherd each student down the same path, The Classical Guitar Companion comprises nine chapters, each of which is devoted to a separate technique or musical texture: “Learning the Fingerboard,” “Scales and Scale Studies,” “Repeated Notes,” “Slurs,” “Harmony,” “Arpeggios,” “Melody with Accompaniment,” “Counterpoint” and “Florid or Virtuoso Studies.” Each chapter contains text and examples that connect material to fingering practices of composers and practice strategies to open a path to interpretive freedom in performance.

This structure allows teachers and students to devise individual curricula based on a student’s strengths, weaknesses and interests. The chapters are not intended to be studied linearly and students are encouraged to work in multiple chapters simultaneously.

The Classical Guitar Companion complements Berg’s 1997 Mastering Guitar Technique (Mel Bay) that was the first guitar book to explore the development of high-level technique and musical artistry in a non-anecdotal way.

Graduate of UofSC’s guitar program Tony Morris, now executive director of Classical Guitar Alive and host of the internationally broadcast weekly public radio program Classical Guitar Alive!,  wrote “Often times a new guitar study is accompanied by fanfare proclaiming that a new technical discovery has been made, or some set of magical exercises promising virtuosity have been revealed for the first time. Christopher Berg's Classical Guitar Companion has done the reverse of this by showing that the answers have been in front of us the whole time, with examples spanning over 450 years of lute and guitar repertory."

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