Vladimir Morkov (1801-1864) wrote one of the finest method books for learning the Russian 7-string guitar, “with application of techniques for the newly enhanced 10-string guitar.” When I started on the 7-string, the method was recommended to me by Mårten Falk, with the claim that the studies were delightful. And they are.
Download a pdf of Morkov’s Method HERE.
It’s not a book I would recommend to complete beginners, but for players transitioning from the classical guitar with perhaps four or five years of experience, then it should serve them well. If you are a complete beginner, but can’t read Russian, I suggest you start with the regular classical guitar in your own language. Failing that, the Method by Menro takes things more slowly.
Back to Morkov’s Method. You will find some pieces – with interesting differences – similar to studies by Fernando Sor, who visited Moscow in 1823, staying for three years with his girlfriend, the ballerina, Félicité Hullin. There is debate over whether Sor adapted Morkov’s studies, or Morkov adapted Sor’s studies, both men not publishing them until after Sor had left Russia. The studies make for interesting comparison.
Morkov was a student of the Patriarch of the Russian Guitar, Andrei Sychra, who dedicated his method to his pupil, Morkov. Together, they represent much of what the St Petersburg school has to offer.
I will include here my performances of many studies, as I work through the book. I’m no expert in the Russian Guitar, but will give my thoughts sometimes after the performance, on technical and musical aspects of the studies. Your comments are most welcome! And I hope you join me on the journey into this wonderful and unjustifiably neglected repertoire.
Morkov Method Pages 12-16
Here is a video covering a few exercises (not all of them) on pages 12 to 16. Future videos will have much less talking, but as I am using another Russian guitar for the first time, I spend some time talking about it, and also about the context of the Method. In other words, it rambles a bit, but future videos from the Method will be more focussed.
Exercise in C Major, Page 13
This is a very interesting and instructive study, with lots of little details worth paying attention to, as they appear in more advanced works by most Russian guitar composers. Hopefully this video will help. Feel free to ask questions.
Page 18 Vivace
This is a great little study for learning arpeggios and chord shapes, which can really demystify the fretboard for you.
The analysis discusses fingering and some music theory, mainly the V-I (tonic-dominant) cadence, and the iib7 – V7 – I cadence.
And Bach’s phone number is revealed!
Page 18 Allegretto
The first Sor-related study, his Opus 31 #7. A very classical study in separating a melody from an accompaniment. In the video, I play the piece at tempo and then slow. After that there is a discussion on the technical and harmonic aspects of the music…wherein Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones gets a mention!
As the piece is in C Major, we can expect modulations to the key of G major and also A minor.
Page 21 Arpeggio Study in B Major
This is a short study, so I made up a 1st-Time bar, and added a repeat. Works nicely at a variety of tempi, from slow too fast.
Page 26 Moderato
A beautiful but difficult melody above a triplet accompaniment. Make sure you separate the melody from the accompaniment.
More to follow…