This book by guitarist Ralph Towner is one that I’ve always been curious about… but for the longest time couldn’t find a copy of it!
Some time ago though, I got a good print copy of it and it’s been a prized book that I study.
In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on what makes this book cool… and also who might benefit the most from this book.
Let’s talk about the format. The book begins with exercises focusing on right hand technique. He teaches damping technique, polymetrical finger combinations, chordal plucking and melodic playing before going into solo guitar playing.
The cool thing about Towner’s approach is that it comes from the whole classical guitar/fingerstyle guitar approach. This makes it different than most guitar books that teach improvisation. It addresses improvisation within the context of a fingerstyle player and/or guitar soloist.
After that, we get examples from his own compositions and he also includes the possible scale choices that fit the harmony of the pieces. Moving further on in the book we get more exercises covering left hand technique, thoughts on vibrato and more right hand arpeggio exercises.
The whole classical musician mindset is obvious in the book because of the emphasis on note duration, articulation, dynamics and accents. Most guitar books just talk about II-V-Is and licks and lines but Ralph Towner teaches the way (I picture) a great classically trained conservatory professor might teach this topic.
All in all the book really delivers and there is so much to digest and work on. In short, if you play fingerstyle or classical guitar and wanted to start improvising, this is a valuable book for long term study… if you can get a copy. And that’s the only problem… this book was originally released in 1985 and is now out-of-print. Still, if you can find a copy at a reasonable price, I recommend investing in a copy. Strongly recommended.
Pros: Insightful thoughts, exercises and guidance from a master of the guitar.
Cons: This book has been out-of-print for ages and a print copy is hard to find.
TLDR: A great book and resource for guitarists who are coming from an acoustic or classical guitar background, although now more specialized books have covered these topics, there is still nothing quite like this book available.
Want to buy a copy? You can try looking for this book on Amazon or eBay. Sometimes a used copy might turn up!
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[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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