See here for the concise list of works.

Update: September 2020

The Liszt Eglogue free offering, long promised, is finally available. If this interests you, please check back periodically as the document is still undergoing refinement. (The other tabs also continually improve, due to corrections, improved fingerings, and typesetter refinements/bugfixes.) This tablature can be played in a standard drop-D tuning, although you would flatten all strings by an additional semitone to play the work at original pitch.

Please see the rant in the July 2020 entry below regarding Adobe and PDF, in case this won't display for you.

This is a good chance to mention that several substantial transcriptions are now typeset and available for purchase. Please refer to the list linked at the top of this page.

Franz Liszt—Eglogue
  2020-08-20  [620 kB  PDF]

Update: July 2020

Another free tablature is available, for the first section of the Andante sostenuto (42 measures) from Schubert's B-flat major sonata D.960. It is not the complete movement, but it is probably the best known section of all Schubert's sonatas, and it stands well on its own. Again, if the PDF doesn't display well, you are probably using Adobe Reader which fails to display valid PDF even though they invented it (which is really ticking me off beyond words)—just use any other reader such as any web browser I've tried so far (or any of the many other PDF readers I've tried, which all worked fine). The document validates according to third-party validation services, and Adobe Reader provides no useful diagnostics, so there's little more I can do about it.

This is a good chance to mention that Schubert's Impromptu D.899 (Op. 90) No. 3 (complete and in a fixed tuning) is also available, though not for free.

Franz Schubert—Sonata D.960, 2nd mvt., first section
  2020-07-26  [260 kB  PDF]

Updates: July–September 2019

The time has come for a release—this one a free (though copyright) sample. I wrote the typesetting software this year, with results finally converging to aspirations in July. Ironically, while this document (validates and) opens fine in all web browsers and non-Adobe PDF readers I have tried, it might not open in some versions of Adobe's reader.

Robert Schumann—Kinderszenen Op. 15, No. 1:
Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

  2019-08-30  [270 kB  PDF]

A guide to the tablature, based on the opening measures of the piece, is included in that document. The musical score comes from the first edition (Breitkopf & Härtel, published in 1839 when Schumann was 29), having entered the public domain something like a century ago. The original metrognome marking—108 to the beat—seems unthinkable today (like most M.M.'s before the 20th century), though scholars have made a case for it. Personally, 80 is the fastest I would ever play this under any circumstances (whatever the instrument)—it would be better at 20 than at 108!... There has also been lively debate about how best to take the triplet-against-dotted rhythm. I believe the semiquaver should be treated as a grace to the crotchet, and how it falls relative to the triplet depends on the tempo. At 108 the dotted figure would probably sound better in a straight triplet coincident with the middle voice. At sane tempi one senses there is quite a lot of space in there, and the timing can vary with every occurrence.

I must confess this tablature has not yet been tested extensively, but I stand by it. Still, improvements will happen when I get down to learning the piece... While on the easy side, it is representative of the Transcriptions in general:

Please note that it is a non-standard tuning—the 5th string is raised a full tone. This is actually a very unusual tuning requirement in any of my works, as chance would have it. You could easily snap the string.  [On the other hand, I wrote all these transcriptions on my used Tak with its original, used strings, and they are still all fine. This was only possible because of the diversity of scordatura, as evinced by the wear/polish patterns on the wound strings. I have no idea how any of this music sounds with fresh strings, lol!]  [Finally changed them, the D intonation went afoul; thousands of hours hard playing on one set though, whatever brand they were—amazing...]   It should be raised gradually in stages with some settling time between. The other strings may also need some adjustment to compensate for the redistribution of total tension—the details depending on many factors including the make and condition of your strings, and the guitar itself... You might like to use a lower pitch standard to relieve some tension—and in fact A440 is higher than the concert pitch of Schumann's era.

Anyhow, sorry about that! ... but this tuning (not the first pursued) is working out for at least five of the best pieces in the Kinderszenen.

In 2015 I began the literal Guitar Transcriptions of piano masterworks. The era of the ubiquitous piano is fast drawing to an end, and there is a danger that the great music written for piano will be forgotten. These pieces can have a vastly wider circulation in the form of guitar transcriptions. In our day, the guitar evidently has a more universal appeal than the piano, being prominent in most popular genres of music. Other advantages of guitar include availability, portability, affordability, and a unique and versatile tone. And there is a special and intimate satisfaction in touching the strings directly to make music.

Contrary to current fashion, but in the tradition of Liszt, I believe that it's important to transcribe faithfully, rather than merely to arrange facile imitations. The exact notes are a magical formula which usually cannot bear compromise. When we consider that only a fraction of the works of even a great composer are really masterpieces, it's inevitable that the tampering of arrangers diminishes their power. Particularly for those who know and love the originals, hearing anything less can be excruciating.

[Well, arranging is fun too; and Liszt did plenty of both...]

Fittingly, it was a piece of Liszt's (Nuages Gris) which initiated the project (though there were two earlier transcriptions over the years). I went to sleep one night with Sofronitsky's rendition playing on repeat (I sometimes do strange things), and I heard it in a dream, and there was a series of shining columns on my path, emerging from the ground and rising into the sky, and as I caressed them with my hand as I passed by, making the final chord, the sun broke through the clouds precipitating an access of aesthetic rapture... When I awoke, I picked up my classical guitar for the first time in a long while, and the transcription just came out astonishingly easily. I changed the ending (misprinted in the original in any case), to approximate the feeling of the dream, but this is the only instance of such a change in the Transcriptions.....

All these transcriptions are for six-string guitar. This is possible only by optimising the tuning of the instrument to suit each piece, and occasionally even retuning a string en passant, a price I'm willing to pay given the results. There are some technical challenges but music like this is worth the effort. Please refer to this guide for information about the tablature notation. A person specialising in such music would be better served by a guitar with more strings, such as the so-called Brahms guitar, but there are millions of six-strings in the world for every guitar with more, and I want this music to live for all.

Progress on the Transcriptions was delayed by the Brontë Ballads project, which latter I understandably wanted to finish in time for the 200th anniversary of Emily's birth.

Meanwhile, here is a teaser of the repertoire in preparation, and their completion statuses. The last of these works to enter the public domain were Poulenc's, quite recently (2019). It is rather glaring that all the composers were "white males"—an uncomfortable fact we need to accept if we are to enjoy the best that's come down to us of Western musical composition. That list gives a fair idea of my taste, although there were certainly dozens of favourite pieces which I couldn't crack (so far)... for instance, Rachmaninoff and Chopin continue to elude me. Music of the Classical period (Beethoven, Mozart; I've not tried Haydn) has proven surprisingly intractable to transcription. A guitar duo would have no problem, and indeed a competent duo ought to be able to sight-read almost any piano music! As for Bach and other early music, while lovely, I've ever felt that it was over-emphasised, and considering it is getting the majority of other transcriptionists' attention, my neglect will cause no hardship.

I'm not giving the tunings since that would put me at too much risk of being scooped. :)

My lifestyle is very frugal, but it still costs more than I could ever hope to make from music sales. Every bit helps—so please purchase/donate if you like what I'm doing. As we love art we must fight piracy and give artists our support.