Book Review: Four Etudes for the Right Hand by Gyan Riley

The first time I saw Gyan Riley was at a concert at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, California. After that initial concert, I tried to catch him live every chance I got up to the time when he relocated to New York City. I also managed to take a private lesson with him when he was still based in Oakland, California. It was such a great lesson and I still remember his advice that helped me develop a much more secure right hand technique for scale playing. Recently, I was going through my books and found this particular one that I bought at a house concert performance he did in San Francisco. I remember going back and forth, trying to decide which of his books to get and settled on this one. I’m glad I did!

This 15-page book by guitarist and composer Gyan Riley is a masterpiece. It contains 4 etudes that challenges the right hand and introduces different musical challenges.

Etude 1: The Odd Arpeggio is preceded by a page of right hand exercises related to the groupings that Gyan explores in the piece. In a way, this compact volume not only gives you the piece but also gives you an opportunity to prepare for the etude. Gyan’s skill as an educator shines here as he cares for the guitarist attempting these pieces.

For Etude 2: The Inner Voice, Gyan gives exercises in balancing different voices by marking certain notes in red to highlight which voices need more stress. These exercises are challenging for me and definitely have helped me develop my right hand control whenever I come back to study the piece.

Etude 3: Trillemolo, a Homage to Agustin Barrios Mangore is one of my favorite pieces in the volume. It explores different variations of right hand tremolo technique to produce both trills and tremolos.

Concluding the book, Etude 4: iPick is a Homage to John McLaughlin. This piece introduces Gyan’s single-string rasguedo technique, picking with the “i” finger. An interesting musical piece, it alternates between harmonics, scalar lines with some chordal stabs. Throughout the book, Gyan always focuses on musically developing each piece even in these etude settings.

In short, this is a great book to add to your classical guitar library for study and technique development. I bought my copy from Gyan years ago in person but now you can get a digital copy right from his website.

Pros: Great pieces, musical and beautiful.
Cons: None.
TLDR: For intermediate to advanced classical and fingerstyle guitarists interested in developing their technique beyond the standard classical repertoire, this is a good book to invest in.

How to buy:
Buy it online from Gyan Riley himself right here:

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