Transcription #1 - Rose of Allandale


Here is a transcription of one of the gems from Martin's CD "Cool & Unusual", entitled "Rose of Allandale". The transcription was done in standard notation and tablature by Mike Papciak. Martin Simpson's transcription of the same piece is now a part of the new "Cool & Unusual" tab book published by Mel Bay, which you can order from the Watershed Arts "Martin Simpson Books" page. The two transcriptions are nearly identical.

 Click here to download the Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

The Adobe Acrobat PDF version of Mike Papciak's free transcription was created by Paul Kucharski who operates a fingerstyle guitar website (see below). The PDF file is small - only 49K. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can get it for free at and lots of other places.


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Below are a few performance notes included with the transcription:

1) Background.

ROSE OF ALLANDALE is a traditional English ballad. Martin Simpson recorded an instrumental arrangement of the tune on his 1997 album COOL AND UNUSUAL. The tune is played in drop-D tuning (DADGBE) and on the disc, Martin tunes to concert pitch, then capos at fret 2.

2) Disclaimer.

I transcribed the tune in early 1998 and double-checked my efforts with Martin himself. As a result, I believe this transcription is quite accurate. However, mistakes or inaccuracies are certainly possible. Any mistakes are strictly my own.

3) Tune structure.

The tune's form is: A B C A' B' C' C''. The last page of the transcription has the significant variation measures for the repeats, and the alternate ending measures for the last time through C.

4) Key signature.

I wrote the notation in the key of D major, although on the disc the tune sounds in the key of E because Martin is capoed at fret 2, as noted above. The idiomatic elements of this piece -- the ringing of open strings, the melodic ornamention -- require that this arrangement be played with D shapes and fingerings, so that's how I wrote it. I think most guitarists will agree.

5) Tablature.

To reduce clutter in the tablature, I chose not to draw arpeggio symbols or suggest fingerings. (Also, our notation software doesn't do these.) In the piece, many of the chords are arpeggiated somewhat; I left this up to the interpreter's good taste.

6) Notation, rubato, and sustain.

Martin's performance of ROSE OF ALLANDALE is a lesson in the artful use of rubato. Also, consecutive notes are frequently played on different strings, thereby allowing the notes to sustain in a harplike fashion. As a beginning transcriber, I wasn't able to ensure that the the duration of notes is correctly notated in every case. When in doubt, read the tab and listen to Martin on the disc.

7) Dynamics.

In his playing, Martin frequently makes beautiful use of dynamics. Many times in this piece, he sketches a chord on the first beat of a measure, then fleshes out the chord by arpeggiating the other notes in the chord. Some of these arpeggiated notes are much quieter in dynamics than, say, the melody notes. Our notation software didn't allow for writing parentheses around these notes to indicate their "ghosted" quality; you'll have to use your good taste!

8) Ornamentation of the progression in bar 3.

In bar 3 Martin plays a G - F# - Em - D progression that is used throughout the tune. In bar 3, there is no ornamentation between the G and the slide to F#. However, the second time he does this (bar 11), heplays a little triplet to ornament the G chord (it's in the tab and notation). Later in the tune, he sometimes uses this triplet, sometimes not. However, I've left it off the transcription to reduce clutter. Listen to the disc; it's quite easy to hear when Martin uses the triplet.

9) Chord positions.

Different chord positions are certainly possible for a few of the chords in the tune. In particular, pay attention to the A and A7 chords, which I sometimes play in the first position and other times in the fifth. Usually, the melodic ornamenation or a subsequent passage will suggest one position over the other, but there are a couple places where I believe you could go eitherway. I wrote what I play.


Paul Kucharski operates a website called Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar at
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