It was on Bert’s agenda to document his own songs and instrumental pieces in a book in printed notation form. Sadly, he did not get round to this before his death in 2011. Now the Bert Jansch Foundation has taken up the mantle and responded to widespread requests to make a reliable publication of Bert’s music available. The aim is to create a publication that enables all guitarists to get to grips with and enjoy playing Bert’s iconic music.
To achieve this, the Foundation has brought together the Bert Transcribed group: a number of accomplished and talented guitarists from around the world. These include professionals who knew and worked with Bert in the 1960s and ’70s, and also compilers of previous books and internet tabs. There are also some enthusiasts who have come later to his music. Between them, they have transcribed over 100 of Bert’s pieces. They have revisited and compared their own and each other’s work, sharing their insights and skills working together, gratis and with the blessing of the publishers, to create optimum versions for historical and educational purposes.
The first volume of the songbook, due in 2017, will include tablature, chords, full staff notation, indications of fingering as well as melody line and lyrics for the songs. There is background information about each piece, such as when it was first recorded and how it fitted in to Bert’s repertoire. Bert Transcribed offers notes and tips for players and an idea of the difficulty so that a beginner is not put off by tackling a difficult piece first.
The first ‘Bert Inspired’ workshop was held as part of the Bert Inspired strand at Celtic Connections 2016, led by two Bert Transcribed group members, Mike Walker (who runs Renbourn Guitar Workshops) and Thomas Fairhurst.
Bert Transcribed is an ongoing process, supported by the music publishers and Earth Recordings. Players are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a copy, suggest songs to be transcribed in future or to book a ‘Bert Transcribed’ workshop.