Agustin Barrios Mangoré, "Una Limosna Por el Amor de Dios"
Version and Fingering: Renato Bellucci
If there is one guitar piece that every guitarist really, really wants to play is a tremolo piece. The best known is Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Remembrances of the Alhambra -the Moorish palace in Granada, Spain). It is one of the few great guitar compositions prior to Barrios Mangore. The world of music is generally divided in Before Bach-After Bach. The world of guitar I divide into Before Barrios-After Barrios. Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a gorgeous piece. Barrios Mangore Una Limosna por el amor de Dios is a masterpiece.
The best rendition of tremolo I have ever heard is Narciso Yepes. His Deutsche Grammophon recording of Recuerdos de la Alhambra is simply marvelous. Segovia's tremolo was also very good. He almost never played tremolos in his concerts though. This was due to the fact that besides Recuerdos, the other great tremolos were Mangore's Una Limosna por el amor de Dios and Un Sueño en la floresta. Segovia never played any Mangore although he greatly admired the Paraguayan composer whom he met in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He took a dedicated copy of La Catedral which he promised he would play and record, but never did. The reasons are almost too obvious, they call for sinful speculations.
If it were not for the English - Australian guitarist John Williams recording of Barrios in the 70s, we would probably not even know about this phenomenal composer and guitarist.
I start the second section to this page by showing you the best approach to playing tremolo efficiently. Simply look at the 3 videos below:
Updated: Santa Monica, California, Nov 29, 2012.
Tremolo is a mandolin type of effect which requires a specific kind of preparation from the student. It delivers the sensation of polyphony and stereophony to its fullest since the listener is often fooled in believing that actually two instruments are being performed simultaneously.
The typical problem with the study of tremolo is that most players want to start playing it as such. It is such a complex and at the same time relaxed guitar technique that only those players that approached the study of tremolo in the right manner will eventually play a beautiful tremolo. You must become very good friends with your metronome, and if the metronome is not yet one of your best practice friends, you better considering making him one urgently. I recommend the old style pendular ones because they also train your eye sight and this comes in handy when playing with other musicians. Start off at 80 beats per minute and increase gradually. Only increase the speed when you are able to play flawlessly for 30 seconds non stop. No exceptions. The training of the fingers in the performance of tremolo starts by feeling each string with the tip of each finger. Feeling the strings makes the right hand feel secure because she's most too often neglected your sight to guide her, therefore, she has to develop her own sense of sight and that is the sense of touch.
Depicted above is the millisecond that precedes the plucking of the second string during tremolo. The flesh at the tip of the a finger is touching the string and is acting as a staccato. By forcing the right hand to plant on the string, you are teaching the hand how to stay very close to the strings at all times and you will be using the larger more effective muscle groups in the hand. Touching the string gives you control on the exact sound you want to produce. Following this frame comes the plucking itself... the nail goes through the string and, depending on the angle at which you attack the string you will achieve a fuller or thinner sound. The palette you can achieve depending on you mastery and the quality of your instrument is practically speaking endless. This sequence is repeated relentlessly during tremolo piece. The trained hand will do its work and will only need minor adjustments from the player.
Una Limosna por el amor de Dios is Mangore's last composition. The piece is based on a true story.
The story goes like this: July 2nd, 1944
Mangore was in San Salvador teaching a lesson when, suddenly, someone knocks at the door. Barrios opens the door and an old lady with her arm stretching forwards tells him "Una Limosna por el amor de Dios" -"An alm for the love of God"- Mangore gave the lady a few coins and then went back to his student with a smile on his face. Looked at him and told him: "I am working on a new piece and I know what I will do with it. I will incorporate the knocking at the door in the piece"... Barrios died on August 7th 1944 and left the piece finished but without a title. When the student that was with him told this story, the piece was called "Una limosna por el amor de Dios"... for being Mangore's last composition it is often called "El Ultimo Canto" -The last song-.
The Knocking appears in the very first measure and will never go away. It is represented by the 2 double eight notes which will play the counterpoint rhythmic melody to the tremolo -main melody.- The player should try to give the two consecutive notes its persistence character.
I worked on this fingering with Maestro Carlevaro in Montevideo. The year, 1986. I find fingering to be a very challenging activity. Spending time on fingering will ensure a more fluent piece of music. I am real proud of this work. I have played other fingerings and the difference is immense. This one is fantastic. Feel free to adapt it even more to your unique features and playing. Carlevaro never published a fingered arrangement of Barrios' Una Limosna. I am happy to be able to share with my students this work I developed with the Uruguayan Master in Montevideo
Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios, Agustin Barrios Mangore.
Renato Bellucci Studio, May 2013. Renato Plays Barrios 1918 Marin Guitar (Restored and part of his private collection)
Fingering & Mechanics, Staff 17 & 18, "Una Limosna..."
I will be posting Amazing Fingering that have made the difference between PLAYABLE and Un-Playable throughout my career. Most of these fingerings I will share here require that you watch the video and read the Technique pages thoroughly. This is one effort you will NEVER regret. This is the best way to perform staffs #17 and 18 in Barrios Mangoré "Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios" (one of the most beautiful guitar tremolos ever written". The key to success in this marvelous piece is to leave absolutely nothing to chance. A mixture of Relaxation, Levers, Changes of presentation, Stretches and Contraction take place in the span of just a few seconds and you will have to be very aware of each one of them performing them first in slow motioned slowly letting the fingers go as muscular memory sets in. Please refer to the Technique pages in mangore.com t get very familiar with these concepts of effortless playing. Practicing each one of the challenges that Una Limosna poses in this manner will make the difference between a master performance and a Huge frustration.
Mangoré: "Una Limosna...", Staff6 5-9
"Una Limosna..." staffs 5-9: Keep the left hand relaxed at all times. As you complete the sequence in one position/chord, relax the left hand completely and only then mov eon to the next position. This will prevent tension from building up thus keeping your playing relaxed at all times. DO a muscular chech at all times to ensure that nowhere in your body is tension present. This is ESSENTIAL !! Only if you master "playing relaxed" will you be able to take your playing to the next level. It is a technique worth investing as much of your time as possible.
"Una Limosna..." Staffs 20-24
Breath out between the different positions and stop the notes in sequence. This will help dissipate tension in the muscles throughout the body. Only start lowering the fingers on the fretboard once you are in position and allow for maximum relaxation to take place between each chord sequence. The colored arrowsshow the fingers as they come down on the fingerboard in sequence.
Staff and Video 1
Whenever the left arm has to perform a change of position, the eyes go to the target first and guide the arm (Perform a glissando -slide- at the end of the staff). The piece presents the "knocking on the door" main theme in eight notes value at the very beginning so as to define what you will be hearing throughout "Una Limosna". Practice tremolo at a speed where you have total control of the right hand fingers and plant each finger involved in the creation tremolo. This is usually achieved with a metronome speed anywhere between 85 and 135. Increase the speed gradually as your right hand feels more secure and the sound starts flowing.
Revision: Santa Monica, CA, November 29, 2012
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