Mel Bay January 2008
Cited by Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine as "...one of the strangest men in acoustic music today," Richard Gilewitz fascinates his audiences with fingerstyle gymnastics while spinning yarns too unbelievable not to be true. His ability to make his guitar sound like an entire orchestra stems from 33 years of well-honed technique and 25 years of touring on the road. Through it all, Richard has created his own signature sound, now captured on his six CD releases, not to mention his book/CD Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop and an instructional DVD All-Time Favorite Fingerpicking Tunes.
It is Richard's live shows, however, that bring out the best in him, for it's only in performance that one can witness how his cadences of stories and tunes create an irrepressible glow that lights up the audience.
If you don't get an opportunity to see Richard live, watching his new performance DVD, Richard Gilewitz: Live at Charlotte's Web is the next best thing. Charlotte's Web is an acoustic venue In Rockford, Illinois that has hosted a multitude of acoustic guitarists and singer/songwriters. The video features many of Richard's signature tales and tunes, a sample of which, "Have You Ever seen a Rainbow at Night," appears here.
Guitar-clinic veteran Richard Gilewitz has organized the 24 chapters and multiple appendices of his new book/CD/DVD package around the questions he’s most commonly asked from players of all ages and skill levels. The CD includes audio examples of the exercises, picking patterns, and original songs written out in standard notation and tablature in the book and DVD. Gilewitz’ advice extends to practice routines, amplification, live performance, studio tips, and more.
By Paul Kucharski
As author of the Acoustic Fingerstyle Web site, I am often asked for a referral to material that teaches fingerstyle guitar. Until the Mark Hanson's books came out, there really wasn't much out there that I could recommend. Now there is a brand new source of instruction that gives budding fingerstyle players a new choice. Mel Bay has released a new Book/CD/DVD by Richard Gilewitz that offers a plethora of information on guitar playing in general along with plenty of fingerstyle material to learn from.
Richard holds guitar workshops across the country and in these workshops, he imparts his wisdom to those who attend. The first half of this book attempts to capture this wisdom in a series of short chapters based on many of the topics he might typically cover in his workshops. Take a look at the chapter headings to get sense of what kind to topics he discusses.
The thing I like about this new book is that Richard's music is more contemporary fingerstyle playing and offers both easier and challenging pieces in a variety of tunings. Every tune in this book is a performance worthy piece, so while you learn, you build repertoire. Plus he provides numerous useful exercises to give new players something to use to develop their right hand skills.
Of course a book alone has never really been enough to convey the information needed to learn new skills. Many books today provide CDs that allow the student to hear what the music or exercise should sound like, but Richard and Mel Bay takes this a step further and provides a DVD with detailed video instruction on many of the topics covered in the workshop and exercises. The CD contains verbal discussion of the exercises and "at speed" recordings of Richard performing the pieces. The DVD supplements the book and CD by providing videos of the same exercises discussed on the CD but also provide detailed information that only "seeing it" can convey. He also provides detailed video performance notes on two of the performance pieces as well. All together, the book, CD, and DVD make a very powerful combination to learn from. The complete list of tunes on the DVD are shown in the pull-down below.
Songs marked with ** = DVD Instruction, *=DVD Performance only
The book, CD, and DVD give you everything you could possibly need to be able to master these works (short of taking a class from Richard himself). In the introduction to the book, Richard states "It is my intention to provide a useful book that kindles a desire to learn fingerstyle guitar."
All-in-all, I must say the package of Book/CD/DVD is one that every Richard Gilewitz fan will want. The music is first-class and the presentation is exceptional.
Both the Book/CD/DVD are available from Mel Bay where you can also pick up Richard's other books as well.
Many folio books available today don't have much in the way of instructional material to help the player figure out how to play the tunes in the folio. They are basically targeted to players who are already intermediate to advanced. Richard states that this book was designed for the "beginner and advanced player". From the Table of Contents you can see it is part instructional book and part folio of tunes from which you can learn by doing. It offers instructional information to develop the needed picking pattern skills and to learn about the tunings used in the pieces.
Many of the compositions are more approachable for the beginner because they take significant advantage of open strings and allow you to build off the pattern studies. Most of the work is getting proficient enough with fingerstyle arpeggios to play them up to tempo; this makes them ideal for working on fingerstyle technique. The 7 tunes presented cover a range of tunings but 2 are in standard and 3 are in Open G. This book is really ideal if those who are looking for material to build fingerstyle playing ability and want to explore what open tunings can offer. The book doesn't include a CD, but most of the tunes can be found on Richard's CD "Synapse Collapse".