National Folk Festival – Master Class Series 2016

The National Folk Festival invites you to participate in the 2016 Master Class Series. Classes will be held off site at Ainslie Arts Centre, a comfortable drive from EPIC on the edge of Canberra City Centre. Classes will consist of 3 x sessions over two days (Wednesday 23 & Thursday 24 April) prior to the 2016 Festival. Classes will provide first-class tuition from visiting, renowned international teacher/musicians. This is a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with some of the world’s best musician/teachers in their respective fields in an up close and personal setting. Book early as numbers are limited to ensure the best possible learning environment. Two classes are offered in 2016.

 2016 Masterclass Presenters

Guitar | Tony McManus

Web_tony Tony McManus has come to be recognised throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.



This class will cover how the guitar can be used in Celtic music. We will look at how altered tunings can be used to good effect in this music.

Before getting into specific tunings we will look at some the techniques we can use to ornament this music. Ornamentation is a huge area in traditional music and guitarists have developed some ways to adapt these ideas to our instrument. We’ll look at grace notes, cuts, rolls, triplets etc.

I use three fingers- ring, middle, and index to play triplets on the top two unwound strings and the thumb in both directions to do the same on the others.

Dropped D: We study arranging ballads in Dropped D tuning- DADGBE. We have only altered one string from Standard tuning so many of the shapes and forms will be familiar. I’d like to use the idea of listening to how a traditional singer ornaments a vocal line and apply that to how we approach the melody on guitar. From there we can build up an arrangement using a simple bass line and filling in the chords between the melody and bass, paying attention to the dynamics as we go.

DADGAD: This tuning more than any other is associated with Celtic music. Invented by Davy Graham in the 60s, by the 70s DADGAD had become almost ubiquitous in Irish music in particular. We will look at how this tuning allows us to play tunes across the strings letting notes ring into each other. We will cover some of the different dance rhythms- jig/ reel/ slip jig etc. and how we can approach these on guitar.

CGCGCD: This is a great tuning for songs and for dance tunes. We will look at an unusual pipe tune call “The Sleeping Tune” by Gordon Duncan.

New Guitar Styles Combining Elements from Roots Music | Beppe Gambetta

Web_beppe Widely acknowledged as one of Europe’s foremost guitarists, Beppe Gambetta is a true master innovator on the acoustic guitar. Both solo and in collaboration with top-flight musicians around the globe, Beppe has a style that’s memorable both for its deeply emotive tone and for its technical brilliance. Beppe approaches his music from a unique stance, as an Italian musician in love with both American roots music as well as the music of his native country. He seamlessly bridges the shores of the two continents, creating a musical fusion where American and Ligurian tradition, emigration songs and folk ballads interact, weaving a deep dialogue beyond rigid classification.



This master class is a fascinating journey in the flatpicking technique as viewed from the broad perspective of Italian guitarist Beppe Gambetta. Beppe, who lives on the road 270 days out of the year, gets his main musical inspiration from his travelling life. While his style is deeply rooted in American traditional flatpicking, Beppe has also done extensive research into the old musical forms of Europe, as the basis for his compositions.

In this hands-on workshop, Beppe will explain his multifaceted repertoire, using both regular and open tunings, and moving from traditional techniques like the Carter Style to the most intricate crosspicking forms, down-down-up techniques, Mediterranean embellishments, controlled strumming, tremolos, and more, exploring the mechanisms of creativity in adapting, arranging, improvising, and composing.


Who Can attend:
Masterclasses will cater for intermediate to advanced level and the numbers in each class will be limited so you will need to apply and pay early to ensure your place.
Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th March
3 x sessions over 2 days
2 x 10am-1pm (Wed & Thurs) + 1 x 2pm-4pm (Wed) Lunch is included on Wednesday only.
Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra
$250     OR
$220 (NFF Season Ticket holders)
Bookings and Enquiries:
Contact Karlie Megay, Program Administrator
T: 02 6262 4792     E: [email protected] (ensure you put MASTERCLASS in the subject box)