Right hand classical guitar technique has evolved from two fingers (thumb and index) in the Renaissance Period to the addition of the middle finger around 1600 and the ring finger around 1800. Various guitarists have attempted to add the little finger over the past two hundred years, most notably Spaniard Dionisio Aguado (1781-1849), Argentinean Domingo Prat (1886-1944), Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) and Uruguayan Abel Carlevaro (b. 1919).

Charles Postlewate's important and innovative research work on the utilization of the little finger in the right hand technique of classical guitar began in the summer of 1985 with research and travel grants to South America awarded by The University of Texas at Arlington. These grants allowed him to travel to Montevideo, studying there with Carlevaro, then to Buenos Aires, to learn more about the work of Prat, and finally to Rio de Janeiro, where he examined and studied the manuscripts and memoirs of Villa-Lobos in the Villa-Lobos Museum. The project continued with a one-year sabbatical leave for the 1985/86 academic year and more research travel grants in Peru and the United States.

From 1985 to 1995, Postlewate followed a six-hour per day practice routine to develop the strength and dexterity of the little finger and to integrate it with the other fingers. Over this period, he developed a set of five-finger right hand studies for the technical areas of scales, chords, arpeggios, tremolos and harmonics as well as researching the standard classical guitar repertoire for pieces that could take advantage of a five-finger technique. He also transcribed and arranged piano pieces by Claude Debussy, arranged Peruvian popular songs and composed original pieces that make extensive use of the five-finger technique.

In 1995, he began recording the pieces for a one-hour CD to demonstrate the use of the five-finger technique. Two more research grants (1996 and 1998) from UTA assisted in the recording process. Upon hearing a pre-production copy of the CD and reviewing Postlewate's manuscripts in 1999, Bill Bay, President of Mel Bay Publications, contracted him to write two books - one containing the printed music for the CD and the other a companion set of right hand studies that provide a systematic introduction to the use of the right hand little finger in classical guitar technique.

Postlewate studied Spanish to be able to communicate with guitarists in Spain and Latin America who had done similar work on the little finger and to present the results of his work in the language that has been historically important to the guitar. Continuing this bilingual approach, the liner notes for the CD, HOMAGE TO VILLA-LOBOS, and the two books, HOMAGE TO VILLA-LOBOS and RIGHT HAND STUDIES FOR FIVE FINGERS are presented in Spanish and English.

Many notable guitarists have assisted in this project including Laurindo Almeida, Javier Calderon, Abel Carlevaro, Mike Christiansen, Ricardo Iznaola, David Leisner, Michael Lorimer, Philip Rosheger and Aaron Shearer.

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