Baranov Masterclass – Ken Tsuchiya performing Villa Lobos Etude #1

Friday, November 14, 2014 by Matt Cosgrove | Performance

Ken Tsuchiya performed Etude #1 from Heitor Villa Lobos and the Prelude in D Major by J.S. Bach from Suite BWV 998. In this post, I will write about the Villa Lobos.  After Ken  finished tuning, Baranov suggested that Ken use chords from the piece to tune the guitar rather than an electronic tuner.  And, at the very least, tune to the tonic and dominant of the key of the piece. For the Villa Lobos, that would be e minor and B7.

Like Ken, I use the clip on electronic tuner. However, I position my tuner so it is on the backside of the neck. I have seen a couple students put these on the front side of the neck. I think it is a little distracting.

Ken’s performance was a little on the slow side. After warming up some, Ken was able to perform the piece quite a bit quicker.  Here is Ken’s initial performance:

Below is Ken’s fingering for the main arpeggio. Notice all the main beats begin with p except for the 3rd beat.

p-i-p-i     p-i-p-m     i-m-p-i     p-i-p-i  .

I talked to Baranov after the masterclass, he and I both prefer the following fingering. There is no fast exchange of the i and m fingers and the first sixteenth note of every beat has a p on it.

p-i-p-i      p-i-p-i      p-i-p-i      p-i-p-i

Baranov suggested the following fingering which I like quite a bit.  Notice the later two groupings in the pattern change for the descending portion of the arpeggio. Here also is a video with a couple RH variations to try.

p-m-i-a     p-m-i-a     p-a-i-m     p-a-i-m

While Anton was at my house, he practiced some for his concerts. I didn’t hear him play any of his pieces all the way through. He told Ken to “NEVER play a piece through.” He recommended that Ken use speed bursts to gain speed on his arpeggios. In the context of the Villa Lobos, he would practice playing the first two sixteenth note groups as quickly as possible many times. Then play the third and fourth sixteenth note groups over and over in short fast bursts with space between repetitions.

The most interesting suggestion was about the long run at the end of the piece on which everyone seems to stumble. He recommended using campanella  technique for the arpeggio. Campanella is playing consecutive notes on different strings rather than on the same string. He also uses his LH thumb to bar across the 12th fret. The “p” in the following example is referring to the LH thumb. I suggest a slight variation to Anton’s fingering in the next example. Anton goes from 12th position directly to 2nd position. My example goes from 12th, to extended 4th, and then to 2nd. Try both ways and see which one you prefer.

Villa Lobos Etude 1 mm. 22-23Villa Lobos Etude 1 mm. 22-23

In the area of dynamics, Anton recommended that Ken for the first section do two measure crescendos and two measure diminuendos. During the long descent that goes down one half-step at a time, he recommended doing long crescendos and long diminuendos. Another way of saying the same thing would be to long phrase the piece. I would go a little further and try to position the louder parts at moments of more dissonance. So, there was much good and helpful information shared with Ken. Please comment, like, and share. Thanks! ~Matt