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Renaissance Period (Guitar Lesson)

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Danny Voris

Renaissance Period

In lesson 9, Danny begins discussion of the five different musical periods of classical guitar music. He starts with the Renaissance.

Taught by Danny Voris in Classical Guitar seriesLength: 40:19Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:27) Introduction Overview of Series Objectives

There are five different periods in which "classical" guitar music has been written. Danny covers the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods within this series. (The guitar was not invented until after the Medieval Period.) In this lesson and upcoming lessons, Danny explains the key stylistic elements of each musical period. He also teaches a sample piece that is representative of each period. All sample pieces provided are of a beginner to intermediate difficulty level.

Note: The term "classical" is actually a misnomer. Typically, when someone refers to "classical" music, he or she is not actually referring to music from the Classical period, but rather Western art music from any one of the five major stylistic periods.

Stylistic information pertaining to each of the five periods of Western art music will soon be posted in the Articles section of JamPlay. This section can be accessed through the left-hand side of the homepage. Learning this information will help you interpret written scores in a stylistically appropriate manner. Without knowing the background information and the approach that went into composing a piece of music, you will not be able to play it as it was meant to be performed.

Lesson 9 Objectives

-Learn stylistic and historical information pertaining to the Renaissance period of Western art music.

-Learn how to play an "Alman" by Robert Johnson.
Chapter 2: (03:24) Melody Process of Learning a New Piece of Music

Always follow the steps listed below when learning any new piece of music.

1. Listen to Several Recordings of the Piece

Since this "Alman" is quite old and is no longer a piece that is commonly recorded, you may have a very hard time finding a good recording of it. If this is the case, listen to Danny's performance example of the piece several times before you begin to practice it.

2. Note the Title and Composer

A. Alman

Etymology / Origin

The piece covered in this lesson is an "alman." The title of this dance piece originates from the French word for "German." "Alman" is pronounced and spelled slightly differently depending on its country of origin. For example, "allemande" is the French and German spelling of the word. In Italian, this dance form is either referred to as an "allemanda" or an "alemana." In English, the words "alman," "almain," and "allemand" all refer to the same form.

Characteristics / Form

The alman was developed in the Renaissance and developed full maturity during the Baroque period. At first, the alman was played as a fully independent instrumental work. However, it later became the first of four movements essential to the solo suite.

Almans from the Renaissance period feature dance rhythms that were quite common in this stylistic period such as the dotted eighth note followed by the sixteenth note. (This rhythm reoccurs throughout the Alman presented in this lesson.) The Alman is typically played in quadruple meter (4/4 time) or a fast duple meter (2/2 or 2/4). The tempo of the alman became increasingly varied as the form developed. Most almans from the Renaissance period are played with a moderately slow tempo. In contrast, many dense, imitative almans from the Baroque period are played at much faster tempos.

The phrase structure of the alman is rather unique. The melody usually begins with one or two pickup notes and leads to a cadance that ends on a downbeat. Phrase length usually follows an irregular pattern in the alman form. However, the length of a phrase is always clearly defined.

Almost every alman is written in binary form. Binary form consists of two sections that are usually repeated. The first section is played in the tonic or "home base" key. Then, the piece modulates to a closely related key. If the home key is a major key, the piece typically modulates to the dominant key. If the home key is minor, the piece generally modulates to the relative minor key.

Note: For information about relative minor and major keys, refer to lesson 10 of Matt Brown's Phase 2 Reading Music and Rhythm series.

B. Composer - Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson was a British composer from the Renaissance Period. Do not get him confused with the American blues musician of the same name!

3. Note the Tempo and Style

In the case of this piece, no tempo or style is listed. The background information pertaining to the "alman" that is provided above should give you a clear idea of the appropriate tempo and style.

4. Note the Key Signature - A Minor

5. Note the Time Signature - 4/4

6. Scan for Other Important Characteristics

Make a note of important features such as form, phrase structure, accidentals, key changes, time signature changes, etc.

A Few Notes on the Score

A. Danny's Version Vs. the Original Version

Danny teaches a simplified version of Robert Johnson's "Alman" in this lesson. He has reduced the score to a simple melody and bass line. A few additional harmony notes have been left out. A copy of the original score is provided in the "Supplemental Content" section along with Danny's version in case you wish to add in these optional harmony notes.

B. Instrumentation

This piece was originally written for the lute. Countless pieces written for lute during the Renaissance and Baroque periods have since been arranged for the modern day classical guitar.

Practice Tips

1. Danny teaches the melody and bass line separately. It's always a good idea to isolate and practice these individual parts before combing them together.

2. Learn the melody / bass line a phrase at a time.

3. In relation to the melody line, alternate fingers I and M when rhythms such as two sequential eighth notes or a dotted eighth / sixteenth figure occur.
Chapter 3: (02:47) Bass Section Danny demonstrates the bass line to the first 9 bars at the beginning of this scene. As an exercise, learn what he is playing by ear. Transcribe it and play it. At first, notate the rhythm. Then, write down the notes. At 01:25, Danny provides some help with the rhythm.

Remember to isolate each phrase as you practice! You may find it helpful to print out the score and mark where each of the phrase breaks occur.
Chapter 4: (02:04) Combining Bass & Melody Balance

As you listen to Danny's performance of the piece, pay attention to the balance between the melody line and the accompaniment. Since the melody is the most important component of the piece, it is played louder than the accompaniment. You may find it helpful to think of the balance between the accompaniment and melody as the foreground and background of a painting. The accompaniment can be compared to the background, where as the melody is the foreground.

A Few Thoughts on Fingering

You may have to adjust the fingering you used to play the individual parts (melody and bass) when they are played simultaneously. Pay careful attention to the fingering that Danny demonstrates in this scene. This fingering will allow you to play the piece with minimum effort and maximum control. Remember that conservation of energy is EXTREMELY important to playing classical guitar.
Chapter 5: (15:39) Melody Variations The next section of the melody is much more active from a rhythmic perspective. The melody now contains passing scale tones between the main melody notes that occur on the strong beats. This new section is just a variation on the melodic theme presented in the first section.

Danny provides a demonstration of the melody in this section at the beginning of this scene.

Left Hand Technique

There are several segments of the melody that can be played by performing finger rolls with the left hand. A finger roll is performed when two notes are played at the same fret on adjacent strings. After the first note is played, the fretting finger "rolls" down or up to fret the note on the adjacent string instead of lifting the finger from the strings. Refer to Dennis Hodges' 5th Phase 2 Lead Guitar lesson for more information on this technique.

Danny tries to avoid finger rolls whenever possible. It is almost always easier to use two different fingers when playing notes on different strings at the same fret.

Performance Demonstrations in this Scene

First half of first phrase - 03:05
Second half of first phrase - 04:07
First half of second phrase - 04:55
Second half of second phrase - 05:48
Both phrases combined - 06:40
The bass line for the second section is played in conjunction with the melody - 09:45

Practice Tips

1. The bass line to the second section is almost identical to the bass line in the first section. Danny reviews the bass line at 08:18. Make a careful note of any differences.

2. When combining the melody and bass line, play small bits at a time. Work on a measure at a time if necessary. When practicing long sections, it is quite easy to fall into a pattern of rehearsing your mistakes without correcting them.

3. Practice with a metronome at a painfully slow tempo!

4. Memorize the piece!!! This will allow your mind to focus more attention towards playing rather than reading the written score.
Chapter 6: (04:50) Melody Play the melody along with Danny in this scene to make sure that you are playing it accurately. He plays through it in small sections similar to his demonstration in the previous scene.
Chapter 7: (07:06) Combining Bass & Melody Danny plays through the combined melody and bass arrangement in a similar fashion to the previous scene. He plays through half a phrase at a time. Loop each half phrase several times as you practice it before moving on to the next segment. This is the best way to learn a piece of music efficiently. Also, this method ensures that you are not reinforcing your mistakes.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

AZLAN47AZLAN47 replied

This is such a beautiful piece that is, alas, proving to be beyond my capabilities at this stage. I shall return after I have acquired the necessary basic skills to be able to aspire to playing it... It is marked at Difficulty 2, but I feel it to be more like a Level 3. I haven't yet mastered the scales, nor memorized the note placements going up the neck, so I am duly humbled and will endeavor to get a grasp of these rudimentary skills before I attempt this challenge again. Arrivederci...

hayeshathayeshat replied

great instruction but would be helpful to note the playing position in the score. ie position V for the A in measure 4.

larazarlarazar replied

There are dotted notes here, but Danny plays them as 8th notes. He plays them correctly in lesson 10. But maybe it's just something wrong with the supplemental content? Maybe the music was supposed to be simplified for Lesson 9, but the content looks the same for both lessons. Also he covers only 1st part of this music piece in both lessons and never gets to explaining the second part (Full Arrangement 2).

gone workingone workin replied

Hoorah!!!!! I didn't have the nerve to ask for music from old old history. THANK YOU!!!!!!! The historian in me is flying around the room.

SylviaSylvia replied

LOL I like the old stuff too... so no worries.

rsmitrsmit replied

Can you post the tabulature to this? Great lesson!

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied

supplemental content should be coming shortly. It's a big lesson, so it can take a bit.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

It's in there now. Sorry for the wait.

J.artmanJ.artman replied

Finally, some more classical lessons. Keep em coming.

Classical Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The origins of the classical guitar date back to the fifteenth century. The vihuela, lute, and baroque guitar are the early predecessors of the guitar. With its origins reaching deep into the past, the classical guitar repertoire spans over five hundred years worth of material. Danny Voris explains the techniques necessary to mastering this timeless art form.

Overview of the Classical GuitarLesson 1

Overview of the Classical Guitar

Danny provides an overview of the topics that will be discussed in this lesson set. He also explains the origin of the classical guitar.

Length: 5:57 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Preparing to Play the Classical GuitarLesson 2

Preparing to Play the Classical Guitar

In this lesson, Danny covers proper posture and how to hold the classical guitar. He also explains how to shape the nails in order to produce the best tone possible.

Length: 19:44 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Installing Nylon StringsLesson 3

Installing Nylon Strings

Danny demonstrates how to install nylon strings on a classical guitar.

Length: 12:58 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Left Hand Technique

Danny covers the basics of left hand techniques for classical guitar.

Length: 20:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Finger Independence Lesson 5

Finger Independence

For lesson five, Danny discusses left hand finger independence. He also discusses hammer-on and pull-off technique.

Length: 17:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 6

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 6, Danny discusses and demonstrates right hand technique for the classical style.

Length: 24:26 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
ArpeggiosLesson 7


Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

Length: 8:43 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
The Importance of ScalesLesson 8

The Importance of Scales

Lesson 8 covers scale exercises in the classical format. Danny provides a few patterns that focus on finger independence and position shifts.

Length: 6:26 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Renaissance PeriodLesson 9

Renaissance Period

In lesson 9, Danny begins discussion of the five different musical periods of classical guitar music. He starts with the Renaissance.

Length: 40:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Robert Johnson's AlmanLesson 10

Robert Johnson's Alman

In lesson 10, Danny takes a more in depth look at a Robert Johnson's "Alman." This lesson contains a detailed explanation of fingering.

Length: 27:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Behind the Scenes with Danny VorisLesson 11

Behind the Scenes with Danny Voris

Danny Voris discusses the major music periods and the advent of tonality.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Baroque PeriodLesson 12

Baroque Period

Danny discusses and demonstrates a piece from the Baroque period.

Length: 22:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Classical PeriodLesson 13

Classical Period

In lesson 13, Danny discusses the Classical period of music.

Length: 20:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Romantic PeriodLesson 14

Romantic Period

In lesson 14, Danny discusses the Romantic period of music. He demonstrates a famous piece from this period commonly referred to as "Romance."

Length: 21:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The 20th CenturyLesson 15

The 20th Century

In this lesson, Danny discusses the 20th century influence on classical guitar.

Length: 22:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Danny Voris

About Danny Voris View Full Biography

A unique guitarist in the region, Wright State alumnus Danny Voris, musically fulfills audiences with a mixture of exciting guitar playing and talented compositional skills. After graduating WSU in 1989, Danny obtained a teaching position at Sinclair Community College. In the fall of 2000, Danny obtained a scholarship to the graduate program at The University of Akron. After graduating the University of Akron in 2002 with a Master’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Danny returned to Dayton. There he began teaching at Jim McCutcheon Music Studios and at The Miami Valley School in Kettering, Ohio.

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