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MICHAEL RAVEN - English Folk Guitar: Songs And Instrumentals Book 1 

MICHAEL RAVEN - English Folk Guitar: Songs And Instrumentals Book 1 
Private Label 

This is a 2006 book of tunes and guitar tablature which is primarily an instruction to English folk guitar styles. Do not misinterpret the title as being English based material – here we have tunes from Eastern Europe to songs from Canada and all points in between. A total of 13 songs and tunes are Michael Raven’s own compositions. The grouping is a bit haphazard, with no themes, alphabetical or otherwise, but the important aspect to bear in mind is that this is a guide to English guitar styles – with helpful pointers to the origins of the influential elements of the playing of Nic Jones (and his multiple tunings), and the finger style that Ralph McTell introduced to us all, and became widely adopted.

Application of these styles to Scottish and Irish tunes and songs gives the subtlest of changes in attack that are pleasing. The notes giving additional guidance on modes, tunings and accompaniment are all spot on. Particular highlights for me, as a guitarist, are the arrangements of, for example, Canadee I-O, and Blackwaterside, but there are plenty of others of significant interest for those looking to build on their repertoire.

I would probably want to seek out Mike Raven’s own recordings of his self-penned tunes and songs to get a feel for how they are played, as I’m not too familiar with his recorded work, but otherwise this is a very useful book, for its intended audience – and plenty there to work on in the lockdown!

Grem Devlin


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine