Most of the music in this book comes from editions or manuscripts from England in the late 1500's. There are also a few French pieces. The cittern was popular in Italy, England and France. Aside from various tunings, there were two main kinds of instruments being played during the 16th and 17th centuries: the 4 course (four sets of doubled strings), and the 6 course cittern with several editions of music to go along with both. The pieces I have chosen for this book were all written for the 4 course instrument and fall into three main categories: dance music, song arrangements and free pieces. The free pieces are basically preludes that explore the melodic range of the instrument. As the title suggests these pieces can be played very freely and need not have a very strict tempo. The dance pieces are not really meant to be danced to, but rather take their form and rhythm from the popular court dances of the time. These can be played with a wide range of overall tempo, but once a tempo is chosen, should be strictly adhered to. The song arrangements are settings of popular songs of the time as well as more formal vocal settings. Care should be taken in making the melody clear and singing. Since the range of the cittern and mandolin are the same, John Holenko has kept the melodies intact. Because of the difference in tuning however, the voicing of the harmonies have been changed so as to fit on the mandolin.
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John Holenko has performed on classical guitar and historic instruments throughout the United States and in Europe. As a solo guitarist and chamber musician, Mr. Holenko performs the traditional repertoire for classical guitar, as well as new music for the instrument, and lesser known works from all periods. Called a skilled soloist by the Boston Globe, Mr. Holenko has given recitals and been featured in radio broadcasts in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco, As a member of the early music ensemble Sonus, Mr. Holenko has performed on historic instruments in recitals in the United States and in Europe. Sonus' recordings for Dorian Discovery feature Mr. Holenko performing on oud, saz, psaltery, and other period instruments. His work with the cittern, Renaissance guitar, and Baroque guitar keep him involved in music of all periods. John also performs traditional American and Celtic music on guitar and mandolin. Mr. Holenko is on the faculty of Charleston Southern University where he directs the guitar program. He is the creator of the Fretwork radio program on South Carolina Public Radio, and is the coordinator of the Fretwork Concert Series for Piccolo Spoleto. Holenko received degrees in guitar performance from the New England Conservatory, and the University of Southern California, studying historic performance at both institutions, and premiering many new works.
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