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Benslow Music: Online Tutorial

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Saturday, 8 May 2021 to Sunday, 23 May 2021

This course focusses on embellishments in Balkan music. We shall learn pieces from Balkan regions, and indulge into ornamentation, phrasing and playing techniques, everything which will make them sound truly Balkan.


Fee: £45 (25% off for under 27s) Code: 21/OL64

In this course we shall study a variety of tunes from Romania, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavian regions. This course will focus on the performance ingredients which make a tune not just sound like a great piece from the Balkans, played by Mrs/Mr X from London, but like an authentic traditional dance or melody.

Apart from capturing the energy, one needs to understand phrasing and ornamentation. And whilst the understanding will easily come from listening and possibly dancing or singing along, the ornamentation can cause finger-knots at times. Over the course of 3 weeks, we will go through exercises and practicing methods which will untie those knots.

Most of the basic tunes will be taught by ear, as this is the best way to capture the authentic energy. Sheet music to all the pieces will be sent out in advance, together with instructions which ones will profit from a bit of preliminary practice, and which ones are best left alone, as often our classical notation does not capture the true execution of those pieces.

Whilst we will touch on the accompaniment, so instruments such as piano and accordion can play the complete piece, this course will focus on the tunes. It is suitable for any instrument who can play melodies, including guitars, mandolins, ouds, bowed and plugged strings and wind instruments from any tradition. If your instrument is unusual, please provide me with your notation needs and possibly the range beforehand or drop us a message if the provided sheets do not fit.

What will we cover?

We will learn tunes from Rumania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and probably Serbia. I expect we may cover 2 more complex pieces and 3 simpler/shorter ones. For each piece we will start with the skeleton tune, and then study and practice phrasing and ornamentation, combined with practicing methods how to gain speed and finger flexibility.

The accompaniment chords will be printed on the sheet music, and I will briefly show how to phrase them rhythmically.

More information can be found here:

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