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Tim Sparks


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The guitar transcription files on this page are distributed as PDF files. They include both standard notation and tablature. These files can be viewed and printed using the free Acrobat Reader from Adobe. Click here to go to the Acrobat download site if you need a copy of Acrobat Reader.


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Blind Mary - a beautiful traditional ballad in Dropped D tuning. Two versions are included - one simple, the other with some frills.

Click here to download Blind Mary (expanded)
Click here to download Blind Mary (simple)

Nuages - the jazz classic by Django Reinhardt

Click here to download Nuages

Monk's Mood by Thelonius Monk.

Click here to download Monk's Mood

Silent Night is an easy arrangement of the Christmas classic.

Click here to download Silent Night

Eu So Quero Um Xodo is a Brazilian "cowboy" song. In Portuguese, the title means, "I'm Looking for a Sweetheart."

When you think of Brazil, maybe the jungles of the Amazon come to mind.  Perhaps you hear a samba from the Carnival in Rio or have a vision of the Girl from Ipanema in a lush, tropical clime.

But this song comes from  Northeastern Brazil. It's typical of a musical genre called "Nordestino" centered in the NE State of Pernambuco. The capital of Pernambuco is Recife, home to several unique rhythms,  such as baiao, forro, and maracatu, which are  different from samba and bossa nova

There's a vast dry brushland in the north called the Sertao, home to cattle and leather-clad cowboys. The most famous of them all was Lampiao, a Robin Hood figure who led a popular band of outlaws called cangaceiros in the 1920's and 30's . (Maybe a little like a Brazilian Pancho Villa? or perhaps a Nordestino Subcomandante Marcos with a bit of John Dillinger thrown in.)

Anyway, this song is played in a style popular in the Sertao. It was written by the renowned composer, singer and accordionist known simply as Dominguinhos. I was introduced to this song by a great guitarist from Recife, Nilton Rangel. We both worked together in Mandala, in the late 1980's, a  band led by Mary Ann O'Dougherty, an intrepid Irishwoman who ran a famous nightspot in Recife for many years.

Nilton was also a member of the Cuerdas Dedilhadas de Pernambuco, a Mandolin/Guitar orchestra which specializes in arrangements of traditional Nordestino music.

The rhythm of my arrangement of "Xodo" is called baiao, (pronounced Bi-yow) which has a staggered  bass line, a crucial difference from samba and bossa where the thumb stays on the beat and the fingers syncopate.

It may help to first aquaint yourself with this thumb pattern. You can play the first two measures of the song in repetition. You can also play through the chord changes until you get comfortable with the rhythm.

There is also a melodic scale which gives this northeastern Brazilian song a special flavor. It is a mixolydian mode with a raised 4th. If you start on the 4th degree of A melodic minor you will have this scale in the key of D.

This tab has two parts. After the melody and bridge, there is a third section which I adapted from one of Nilton Rangel's arrangements for the mandolin orchestra.

You can hear my version of Xodo on One String Leads To Another (Acoustic Music Records, 1999, Best. Nr. 319.1177.242). This version is a duet with Dean Magraw, who also did a rendition with Steve Tibbets, featured on Broken Silence. Dominguinhos, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso have all recorded beautiful renditions. The Brazilian anthology Beliza Tropical, organized by David Byrne, features Veloso's version and is easy to find.

Click here to download Eu So Quero Em Xodo

Tanst, Tanst Yidelekh was originally recorded by the Abe Schwartz Orchestra. Strains of this song can be heard in a number of recordings, all with different titles. The earliest is "Ma Yofis", recorded in Bucharest circa 1908-1910 by Belf's Rumanian Orchestra. The Klezmorim recorded a version titled "Yashke Yashke". More recently, is a rendition called "Der Rabbe", by Andy Statman and David Grisman. There's a bit of each of these in this incantation. - Liner notes, Tanz

Playing a Fingerstyle guitar rendition of a Klezmer tune feels like a bit of a cross between flamenco and ragtime. This tune is a great example of how well a flamenco key and chord voicing can embody a Klezmer tune. The key is B, with B dominant 7 flavor. The first notes of the melody play off this typical flamenco voicing of a B dominant 7 with a flat 9 : B-F#-C-D#-B-E.

The scale expressed by this arpeggio is B-C-D#-E-F#-G. It's a modified Phrygian Mode. Klezmers call it "Freygish," you will probably recognize it as the "Hava Nagila" scale, also known as "Hijaz" in Turkish and Arabic lexicons and as "Ahava Rabboh" or "Abounding Love" in the traditional system of liturgical scales used by cantors.

For more info see The Main Klezmer Modes, by Josh Horowitz for a very informative explanation of modes used in traditional Jewish music.

Click here to download Tanst, Tanst Yidelekh

Cancion Mixteca and Sandunga are two arrangements by Tim of traditional Mexican pieces. Click here to read about how Richard Malmed first heard Tim's arrangement of "Cancion Mixteca". Click here for Richard's story of Sandunga and a festival visit on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Click here to download Cancion Mixteca

Click here to download Sandunga


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