19th Century

I play a modern classical guitar, but used to also have a beautiful 8-string Stauffer-style guitar by Scott Tremblay of Roseberry Guitars.

I like to improvise preludes to any piece I’m performing, and would like to encourage others to explore improv, and hopefully revitalise a forgotten part of the classical-guitar performance practice.

La Rose by Giuliani, with improvised prelude and cadence at the two-minute mark:

Le Romarin by Giuliani, with short improvised prelude:

Two studies by Napoleon Coste:

Valse by Napoleon Coste, with improvised prelude:

Legnani Caprice No.22 in Cm, with improvised prelude. Sorry the 8ves at the beginning are slightly out of tune!


NB Skype Lessons Available: http://robmackillop.net/tuition/


An Introduction to 19thC improv

Preludes, Cadences and Composition for Guitar in 19th-Century Teaching Practice  – sadly the sound files for this essay have been lost – so make up your own 🙂

Here is a file linked to in the above essay: horetskycadences.pdf

First of three videos teaching improvisation, 19th-century style:


Second of three videos teaching improvisation, 19th-century style. I’m playing a Lacote copy loaned to me by Michael Nalysnyk:

Third of three videos teaching improvisation, 19th-century style:



The Harp-Lute was invented in 1798 by Edward Light of London. It flourished until c.1840, changing it’s shape over the years. It is not an instrument I had a great interest in until one fell on my lap, so to speak, through the generous offer of a loan of an instrument from Ian Grant. Ian hoped that I could “Do something with it”.

I have done no original research in this area, so happily recommend the following links for images and more information:

Harp-Lutes – by Gregg Miner

Sarah Deere-Jones – performer

Ian sent me not only the instrument by Edward Light, but also Light’s publication, Introduction to the Art of Playing On the Harp-Lute & Apollo-Lyre with suitable Lessons &.c Composed and Adapted BY Edward Light, Inventer.

This volume gives some instruction and twenty seven or so pieces of increasing difficulty. I recorded three pieces from pages 10 and 12, ‘Dance’, ‘Haunted Tower’ and ‘Scotch Air’. I offer them here as an introduction to the instrument and its repertoire. I’m told that it was immensely popular in its day, and that there are many hundreds of pieces for it.

The tuning, from bass to treble is, G CDEFGA Bcegc’ – the last five notes lying on the fingerboard. Three of the basses have semitone levers, or an early version of such, and therefore keys other than C Major can be played. The tuning is not too far from the so-called English Guitar, or ‘guittar’ of the second half of the 18th-century, and much of the repertoire is similar – Scotch Airs, popular songs, a little bit of Haydn…etc.

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