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Eugenio

My 7-string guitar and other related things

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This is something I wrote right after I got my 7-string guitar 2 years ago. I was absolutely excited about it — and I still am! As a matter of fact, it's about Choro and the 7-string guitar in general, not really about my guitar.

Choro_7_Strings.pdf

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I'm glad you liked it, Stackabones!

The main issue with getting a 7-string now is that there is no published sheet music whatsoever (unless you want to play classical music by Napoleon Coste in alternative tunings).

Although its tradition as an accompaniment instrument is consolidated, I'd say the 7-string guitar is being played as a solo instrument for a little more than 25 years, which is a short time. We have rely on playing by ear, write transcriptions and arrangements on our own, have the composers make the scores available or order custom-made transcriptions, which are more expensive than off-the-shelf sheet music.

I believe it'll take some more 25 years to have all those issues sorted out. :rolleyes:

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Fantastic article Eugenio! I have tried 7-string guitars before and found myself lost. You do have to take the time to reconsider chord voicings and how to finger basslines. My harp guitar, with 6 floating bass strings beyond the guitar neck, is actually a much easier configuration for me to come to terms with as each of those extra strings is only played open and cannot be fretted. You'll have to try it out when you're in LA.

Dan, I don't imagine that 8 or 10 strings are common anywhere, but I'm not the expert here. Of course, there is the viola caipira with 10 strings in 5 courses of 2 strings each. Then there are the extended range instruments Egberto Gismonti uses.

Take care!

--Frank

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I'm glad you liked it, Frank! I'm keen to try a harp guitar, it always seemed like a fascinating instrument to me, full of different possibilities.

Dan, Frank's right, those guitars are not common in Brazil and probably nowhere in the world. In Brazil, we have Marco Pereira, Paulo Aragão and Mauricio Marques using 8-string guitars with very impressive results. Beyond that, it's usually up to classical guitar players like Paulo Martelli, who plays with a 11-string guitar.

6 and 7 strings are the common place in Brazil, with the 7-string guitar experiencing a continuous and consistent growth over the last 25 years.

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Eugenio, I also find it interesting to compare your description of the 7-string's place in Brazilian music to my experience of guitar in general in Celtic music traditions. There are still staunch traditionalists who feel that guitar has no place at all in that music and that is probably after about 80 years as an accompaniment instrument and about half that as a solo instrument. Of course, much of the music has been around for hundreds of years, making the guitar very much a newcomer. Given the number of great guitar players drawn to the music, acceptance has steadily increased and there is a great deal of published sheet music available, but there will always be staunch traditionalists. I do expect that, as the use of 7-string as a solo instrument increases in Brazilian music, that will create the demand for material specific to the instrument. I hope it doesn't take 25 years but evolution is a slow process. How long do you think it would take me to get harp guitar established in Brazilian music :D ?

Take care!

--Frank

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I don't know, but maybe it takes some 25 years to create a trend and maybe some other 25 to consolidate that trend and create followers. I hope we can talk more about the 7-string, there's a lot of nice things about it.

And speaking of harp guitar, is there a standard for that type of instrument? I mean, number of strings, written music with certain notation standards, etc.

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