Review: Slur Exercises, Trills, and Chromatic Octaves by Andres Segovia. A new edition, revised and edited by Larry Snitzler
Andres Segovia's Slur Exercises, Trills, and Chromatic Octaves, published by Columbia Music Company, Inc., and newly edited and revised by Professor Larry Snitzler, is a valuable tool for teachers and students.
The edition includes the reprinting of a few brief comments from Segovia as well as observations from Prof. Snitzler, a distinguished teacher whose associations with Segovia spanned more than twenty-five years. Comments from both guitarists offer practical advice and insights for approaching the exercises. Those comments address fatigue, prioritization of tone when executing repetitions of the exercises, and the possibilities for creating variations of each exercise. The annotations for this publication relay that Segovia said his first practice session of each day consisted of scales, some of Giuliani's arpeggio studies and these slur exercises.
Each of the seven slur studies is presented in standard notation ascending and descending the first string chromatically. A complete transcription of the exercise in its ascending and descending versions comprises a single page of the edition (with the exception of the sixth exercise, which comprises two pages). Fingerings for the fretting and articulating hands are offered for the first complete presentation of the slur pattern. Fingerings are present again when the descending version of the pattern begins. The notation is large enough to be visually clear and allow room for pencil notations. The twelve-page publication is not cumbersome and can be slipped into the back pocket of a binder.
Many variations on these exercises can be imagined. While each exercise is notated as performed on the first string, the exercises can be practiced on the other strings of the guitar as well. Instead of movement by half steps, one can adapt the exercises with shifts in whole steps or other intervallic patterns for variation. Adding dynamics, changing rhythms and playing the exercises at different tempi are other ways to transform the focus the exercises. As written, the exercises work left and right hand coordination and dexterity in addition to slur technique.
The publication also includes Segovia's challenging trill studies, which incorporate chords. Snitzler offers single-note alternatives should the user of the book find Segovia's examples too difficult at first. The edition concludes with a transcription of chromatic octaves in first position and an array of suggested fingerings for the articulating hand.
In addition to its value as a tool of study, this edition is a reminder of the chronicle of classical guitar in the capital area. Snitzler's annotations are enjoyable to read and pay homage to the legacies of Sophocles Papas, John Marlow and classical guitar in Washington, DC.