The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl: A Review of the Masterpiece by the French-Algerian Guitarist
If you are an advanced fingerstyle guitar player who is looking for a challenging, diverse and inspiring collection of arrangements and compositions by one of the most original and influential acoustic guitarists of our time, then you should definitely check out The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl. This book, published by Hal Leonard in 1987, is the first book in the United States that features the transcriptions of Pierre Bensusan's music. It contains sections on all aspects of guitar performance, emphasized with pieces by various composers, including Bensusan's traditional Irish fiddle tunes, French ballads and more. In this article, we will give you a detailed overview of the book, a critical evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, and a recommendation for readers who are interested in exploring more of Bensusan's work.
Who is Pierre Bensusan and why is he considered a genius of contemporary acoustic guitar?
Pierre Bensusan is a French-Algerian guitarist, singer, composer and producer who was born in 1957 in Oran, Algeria. He started playing guitar at the age of 11, inspired by folk music from various cultures. He moved to Paris with his family in 1969, where he developed his unique style of playing acoustic guitar in DADGAD tuning. He released his first album Près de Paris in 1975, which won the Grand Prix du Disque at the Montreux Festival. Since then, he has recorded over a dozen albums, toured extensively around the world, and collaborated with many renowned musicians, such as Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Al Di Meola, Steve Vai and David Crosby. He has also received numerous awards and accolades, such as the Guitar Player Readers' Choice Award, the Independent Music Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ards International Guitar Festival.
Bensusan is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential acoustic guitarists of his generation. His music is characterized by its diversity, originality, complexity and beauty. He draws inspiration from various musical genres and cultures, such as Celtic, jazz, classical, folk, world and ambient. He combines virtuosic technique, expressive melody, harmonic richness and rhythmic sophistication to create a musical language that is uniquely his own. He is also known for his warm and captivating voice, which he uses to sing in French, English and his own invented language. He is a master of DADGAD tuning, which he uses to explore new possibilities of sound and expression on the guitar. He is also a prolific composer, who has written over 300 pieces for guitar, as well as music for films, documentaries and theater.
What is The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl and what does it contain?
The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl is a publication for advanced fingerstyle guitar players who want to learn from Bensusan's arrangements and compositions. It is the first book in the United States that features Bensusan's music, which was previously only available in France. It contains sections on all aspects of guitar performance, emphasized with pieces by various composers, including Bensusan's traditional Irish fiddle tunes, French ballads and more.
The book's structure and organization
The book is divided into four parts: Introduction, Arrangements of Traditional Tunes, Original Compositions and Appendix. The Introduction provides some background information on Bensusan's life and career, as well as some general tips on how to approach his music. The Arrangements of Traditional Tunes section contains 14 pieces that are based on folk melodies from Ireland, Scotland, England and Turkey. The Original Compositions section contains 16 pieces that are inspired by various musical genres and cultures, such as classical, jazz, flamenco, African and Middle Eastern. The Appendix contains some additional information on DADGAD tuning, chord shapes and fingerings.
The book's content and topics
The book covers a wide range of musical styles and topics that reflect Bensusan's eclectic and creative approach to guitar music. Here are some examples of the pieces that are included in the book:
Au Jardin d'Amour: A beautiful French ballad that features a delicate melody over a simple chord progression.
Bamboule: A lively piece that combines elements of Celtic and African music.
Climats Doux et Tempérés: A complex piece that explores different modes and tonalities.
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum: A playful arrangement of a piece by Claude Debussy that showcases Bensusan's classical influences.
Hekimoglu/Digital: A medley of two Turkish tunes that demonstrates Bensusan's skill in adapting exotic scales and rhythms to the guitar.
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: A stunning arrangement of a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach that highlights Bensusan's mastery of harmony and counterpoint.
La Danse du Capricorne: A dynamic piece that blends flamenco techniques with jazz harmonies.
Le Voyage pour l'Irlande: A tribute to Bensusan's love for Irish music that features several fiddle tunes arranged for guitar.
Nice Feeling: A catchy piece that showcases Bensusan's ability to create catchy melodies and grooves.
Solilai: A soothing piece that creates a peaceful atmosphere with ambient sounds and textures.
Suite Flamande aux Pommes: A suite of four movements that combines elements of Flemish folk music with modern guitar techniques.
Water Music: A majestic piece that was inspired by a visit to Niagara Falls.
The book's notation and transcription
The book uses standard notation, tablature and chord symbols to present the music in a clear and accurate way. The notation includes fingerings, articulations and dynamics to indicate how to play the pieces with expression and nuance. The transcription is faithful to Bensusan's recordings and performances, capturing his subtle variations and improvisations. The book also provides some explanations and comments on each piece, giving some insight into Bensusan's musical ideas and intentions.
The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl: A Critical Evaluation
Now that we have seen what the book contains and how it is presented, let us evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, as well as its impact and influence on guitar music.
The book's strengths and weaknesses
The book has many strengths that make it a valuable and enjoyable resource for advanced fingerstyle guitar players. Some of these strengths are:
The book offers a rare opportunity to learn from one of the most original and influential acoustic guitarists of our time.
The book covers a wide range of musical styles and topics that reflect Bensusan's eclectic and creative approach to guitar music.
The book contains many beautiful and challenging pieces that can enrich and expand one's fingerstyle guitar repertoire.
The book provides clear and accurate notation and transcription that can help one to understand and play Bensusan's music with accuracy and expression.
The book includes some explanations and comments on each piece that can give some insight into Bensusan's musical ideas and intentions.
However, the book also has some weaknesses that may limit its appeal or usefulness for some readers. Some of these weaknesses are:
The book is very difficult and demanding for most guitar players, requiring a high level of technical skill, musical knowledge and practice time.
The book is not widely available or accessible for readers, as it is out of print and hard to find online or in stores.
The book does not include any audio or video recordings or examples that can help one to hear and see how Bensusan plays his music.
The book does not provide any exercises or drills that can help one to develop the skills and techniques needed to play Bensusan's music.
The book does not offer any alternative tunings or arrangements that can suit different guitars or preferences.
The book's impact and influence on guitar music
Despite its weaknesses, the book has had a significant impact and influence on guitar music, especially in the field of contemporary acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Some of the ways that the book has contributed to guitar music are:
The book has introduced many guitar players to Bensusan's music, which has inspired them to explore new possibilities of sound and expression on the guitar.
The book has popularized DADGAD tuning among guitar players, which has opened up new horizons of harmony and melody on the guitar.
The book has received recognition and appreciation from many guitarists and critics, who have praised its originality and diversity of musical material.
The book has left a legacy and inspiration for future generations of guitarists, who have followed Bensusan's footsteps in creating innovative and beautiful acoustic guitar music.
and inspiration for future generations of guitarists. We recommend this book to advanced fingerstyle guitar players who are looking for a challenging, diverse and inspiring collection of arrangements and compositions by one of the most original and influential acoustic guitarists of our time. We also encourage readers to explore more of Bensusan's work and to share their feedback with us.
Here are some frequently asked questions about The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl and Pierre Bensusan's music:
Where can I buy The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl?
The book is out of print and hard to find online or in stores. However, you may be able to find some used copies on sites like Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks. You can also check your local library or music store for availability.
How can I learn more about Pierre Bensusan and his music?
You can visit Bensusan's official website at www.pierrebensusan.com/, where you can find information about his biography, discography, tour dates, news and more. You can also follow him on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also listen to his music on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Pandora.
What are some other books or resources that are similar to The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl?
Some other books or resources that are similar to The Guitar Book Pierre Bensusan Rarl are:
DADGAD Music: Compositions from Spices and Wu Wei by Pierre Bensusan: A book that contains 15 pieces from Bensusan's albums Spices and Wu Wei, transcribed in standard notation and tablature.
The Complete DADGAD Guitar Method by Peter Gelling: A book that teaches the basics of DADGAD tuning, including chords, scales, arpeggios, techniques and styles.
Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine: A magazine that features articles, interviews, lessons and transcriptions on fingerstyle guitar music.
Fingerstyle Guitar Journal: A digital magazine that features articles, interviews, lessons and transcriptions on fingerstyle guitar music.
Fingerstyle Guitar School: An online platform that offers courses, workshops and masterclasses on fingerstyle guitar music.
How can I improve my fingerstyle guitar skills and repertoire?
You can improve your fingerstyle guitar skills and repertoire by practicing regularly, learning from different sources, listening to different styles, playing with other musicians and performing for an audience. Some tips to help you improve your fingerstyle guitar skills and repertoire are:
Practice with a metronome or a drum machine to improve your timing and rhythm.
Practice with a tuner or a pitch pipe to improve your intonation and tuning.
Practice with a recorder or a camera to review your performance and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Learn from different sources, such as books, videos, online courses, magazines and podcasts.
Learn from different teachers, mentors, peers and role models.
Listen to different styles of fingerstyle guitar music, such as Celtic, jazz, classical, folk, world and ambient.
Listen to different fingerstyle guitarists, such as Pierre Bensusan, Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee and Sungha Jung.
Play with other musicians who play different instruments or styles.
Perform for an audience who can give you feedback and encouragement.
What are some other guitarists that are influenced by or comparable to Pierre Bensusan?
Some other guitarists that are influenced by or comparable to Pierre Bensusan are:
Tony McManus: A Scottish guitarist who is known for his Celtic music and DADGAD tuning.
Martin Simpson: An English guitarist who is known for his folk music and alternate tunings.
Laurence Juber: An English guitarist who is known for his fingerstyle arrangements of Beatles songs and other pop tunes.
Don Ross: A Canadian guitarist who is known for his percussive and rhythmic style.
Antoine Dufour: A Canadian guitarist who is known for his melodic and harmonic style.