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AMAZING GRACE - an arrangement by TIM SPARKS

mazing Grace needs no introduction
as a tune. It has a haunting melody
that lends itself very well to arranging
for solo guitar.

This lesson is a preview from a video

instruction project the Acoustic Guitar
Workshop is working on with Tim Sparks
- ROOTS RAGS & BLUES (
the panel at the bottom).
The first arrangement (page 2) is the
basic arrangement of the tune in C
major. So the tune falls nicely around
familiar chords at the nut. We hope you
enjoy it.
The second arrangement (page 3) adds
real jazzy tones and chords to the
arrangement. The tune comes through
strongly, but it is more satisfying for a
player to play and adds harmonic
interest for the listener who will also be
very familiar with the tune.
Really listen to Tim (on the mp3), study
and play these arrangements, and you
should gain good insight into the guitar
arrangers art.

Tim Sparks has been redefining the acoustic guitar
repertoire since he won the US National Fingerstyle
Championship in 1993 with a groundbreaking
arrangement of Tchaikovskys Nutcracker Suite.
Since then, Sparks has continued to surprise,
challenge, and thrill audiences with his diverse
repertoire and stunning technique. Equally at home
within the Country Blues, Ragtime, Jazz or World
Music genres, Sparks extraordinary ability to adapt
virtually any music to the solo guitar has earned him
an international reputation as one of the most
innovative guitarists working today.
Sparks discography includes The Nutcracker Suite,
One String Leads to Another and Guitar Bazaar on
Peter Fingers Acoustic Music Records. He has also
recorded four projects for John Zorns Tzadik label,
Neshamah, Tanz, At the Rebbes Table and Masada
Guitars, (with Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot).
In addition to playing concerts in Europe, Asia and
North America, Sparks is a part-time faculty
member of the University of Minnesota. Recent
appearances include touring with Dolly Parton and
as a featured guest on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie
Home Companion.
"You can hear Tim Sparks think. He plays by choice
not habit: ideas not licks. I've heard him do this on
guitars so badly intonated, they wouldn't make a
good ashtray; the same guitars - I remember a
piece called Blues on Bartok Street - are guitars in
Tim's hands. Beautiful. I'm Tim Sparks' biggest fan.
His stuff is very difficult to play but it doesn't
sound difficult. I think that's real musicianship. He's
really one of the best musicians I know." LEO KOTTKE

Have fun and keep up the pickin...

ROOTS RAGS & BLUES - tim sparks
The collection of tunes on this CD-ROM finds Sparks returning
to his own roots, the music he learned growing up in rural
North Carolina. It was a world of tobacco fields, firebreathing itinerant preachers, cornbread and collard greens,
bluegrass and barbecue, moonshine on Saturday night and
rapturous gospel singing on Sunday morning...and the
country blues that seemed to come right up from the earth,
out of the sunbaked, red clay Piedmont bottom land.
Tim Sparks plays and explains new and original versions of
three classic fingerstyle standards: Willie Brown's Mississippi
Blues, Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag and The Victory Rag, made
famous by Mother Maybelle Carter. In addition, he does a
country-gospel workout on Amazing Grace, shows some New
Orleans style on the Original Jelly Roll Blues and finishes with a
Klezmer classic recorded in the 1920's, Tanst Yiddlekh.
Produced by;
ROOTS RAGS & BLUES due for release: Winter 2006/7




Heres the basic version of Tim Sparks take on this old standard. Its
very easy play and uses standard chords of C, G and F at the nut. We
havent added chord windows above the music, not because we are
mean or forgetful! No! The reason is simply that you will come across
a lot of guitar tab that doesnt show you chord windows. You have to
work out the chord shapes and structures for yourself, from the
tablature and/or standard notation. And its crucial that with any piece
of fingerstyle that you are learning that you do this first, i.e. work out
the chord shapes. Youll make the learning process a whole bunch
easier if you have nailed the chord shapes and structure first. You cant
hope to put the fiddly bits together if you dont know the basic
This arrangement of Amazing Grace is very easy and therefore it
should be a snap to work out the chord shapes necessary. You should
be able to work it out from the tab before you even pick up your
guitar. Have fun with the pickin...


Here things get more interesting! Tim is now adding some rich jazz
voicings and passing movements to the arrangement. Its still pretty
simple to play, but it just has that bit extra for both the player and the
listener. Its crucial that you push the envelope with any arrangement
of a very well known tune because folks have heard it 10,000 times
before already! To stop you from boring yourself and your audience to
death you need to embellish, spice up the proceedings so that the old
becomes something new in your hands and in the ears of your
listeners. The arpeggio movement in bar 7 is a good example of this.
Have fun with the pickin...