The road ends, but the journey continues...

The ‘3 Measure Fix’

Sometimes all it takes is a 3 measure fix.

This vaguely simplistic concept was brought to light a few days ago while staring down an old (as in a piece I put aside years ago to work on ‘later’) arrangement I began, but never finished, for solo classical guitar. Something about it wasn’t quite right back then and something about it still wasn’t quite right, right now.

There were these 3 measures that, well, just didn’t measure up.

In seeing what I’d done previously with fresh eyes, I couldn’t dismiss it as a throw-away. I’d already invested much time and effort into crafting an original arrangement of a traditional Tarantella. It was, in truth, almost finished.

Stylistically, there are many songs in Italy that qualify as a Tarantella – basically a rowdy, raucous dance tune with moves inspired by – you guessed it – the Tarantula. More specifically, ridding one’s self of one and/or what happens after one gets bitten by one (frenzied madness)!

As is typical in folk music, each town, province, heck – family – has their own version of this. I mention family because coming from a musical family, these things get passed down along with the traditional family recipes. But not necessarily in tangible, written down form.

I knew how to play it in ensemble. That’s just a fancy way of saying I could rock out those rhythmic chords on my 12-string acoustic and/or classical guitar to my Dad’s clarinet/saxophone or my former duo partner’s violin/mandolin melody instruments.

But I really wanted it in my personal arsenal of songs to play for fun in a solo classical guitar context.

That said, I knew how my arrangement needed to sound.

I sight-read the unfinished score on my music stand with its errant 3 measures standing out as ugly as ever. Searching for a solution, I reviewed the source materials referenced in the initial creation of the arrangement and noticed something tucked in between the pages of my notes. All those years ago, I had hand-written a 3 measure idea to insert as a possible replacement for the trouble spot.

Sometimes all it takes is a 3 measure fix.

My ‘fix’.

Hmm, why hadn’t I just gone with that in the first place?

This video offers a good example of a player working through various ideas for an arrangement of the most recognizable of all Tarantellas.


  1. Annika Perry

    Laura, I’m so happy for you and well done for figuring this out! I love the video and how all the elements are explained and brought in! By 10 I’m bopping along and wow, terrific playing and tempo. My nephew is learning guitar online at the moment and I’m sharing this with him!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Fantastic! Glad to be an inspiration to a budding guitarist.

  2. deborahbrasket

    That was fun! So glad you figured it out, again! I haven’t been playing much piano lately and it shows now when I do. Music is something you have to keep at if you want to grow, or even maintain. as I’m sure you know and do.

    • laura bruno lilly

      To be honest, I’ve had a sort of love/hate relationship with my music during the Pandemic – but I’m on the other side of all of that and have found a balance between fun, serious, exploration and professional type practice/play which nourishes the soul as well as keeps the chops up!
      Don’t ignore the lure to just dabble at those keys regardless of any supposed ‘technical flaws’ that might surface.

  3. zippyquilts

    Well, that was interesting. I enjoyed the video, too.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for stopping by, Zippy. I hope your part of NC has weathered the tornadoes/rains/river floods/cold okay. We’re fine – missed all but the rains, but then the rains are ‘normal’ for around here.

  4. Jennie

    That was wonderful! I want to get up and dance.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Well, that’s what the Tarantella is for: dancing! So go for it!

      • Jennie

        Yes!! ?

  5. Lavinia Ross

    I enjoyed the video and seeing the creative process at work!

    • laura bruno lilly

      I relish seeing others ‘doing’ the work of creating – that and seeing (he)artists’ home studios!

  6. cedar51

    I have no idea about “music” and all it entails – and most always have no idea how it got to be on the strings and floating through the air into my ears. Thanks for sharing…

    • laura bruno lilly

      We don’t always have to understand with our minds – as long as our heart hears the music, that’s the best!

  7. Janis @

    I know very little (nothing) about music but I’m so glad that others (you) do! I love that you were able to noodle out your problem and, like Joanne, I hope we can hear what you wrote one of these days. Thanks also for the video. I enjoyed listening to him play… do all guitar players have long fingernails on their picking hand?

    • laura bruno lilly

      Great question! His are representative of a classical guitarist…as for pop/folk finger-style players, it’s a matter of personal preference, but usually not as long since many opt for fingerpicks.
      CG Rule of thumb (!): left hand short, right hand longer…and then shaping them is a whole art in itself! HA!

      • snakesinthegrass2014

        Many years ago a friend took me to a solo Stephen Stills acoustic concert. My friend, a guitarist, said how much he admired Stills because he only fingerpicks on acoustic. There was no YouTube then, so I had no way of verifying (not to mention the fact that my own knowledge was, and remains, none-to-nill about guitar playing). We had something like second or third-row seats, front and center. So what did I see? Stephen Stills using a pick on every song. 🙂 Glad you sleuthed your problem. – Marty

        • laura bruno lilly

          Too funny!

  8. Laura

    Marinating is an important step in the journey. 🙂

    I had fun listening to the video…thanks for sharing it. Also enjoyed a little rabbit trail, since I had to find out if tarantulas do live in Italy. And so they do, along with a 1000 other spider species.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Another tidbit, since you seem to like following rabbit trails…did you know that ticks are members of the arachnid family also? Tarantulas and Ticks…welcome to the family!

  9. Andy

    You know I’m a layman, but this layman enjoyed that video.

  10. anne54

    Sometimes the things we create need to just sit for a while, while things percolate in our brains. And sometimes the answer is staring us in the face all the time ~ or tucked away between the pages!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, a regular part of creating for sure…this particular piece I had intended on chucking at first…just to clear the nagging clutter in my mind’s accounting of my seemingly endless pile of unfinished/stuck projects…so the obviousness of those 3 measures were especially surprising. And ultimately, I didn’t want to chuck it anyway! Thanks for your input, Anne.

  11. Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

    Love this post, Laura. Your story was engaging, and a reminder of how much time we sometimes spend trying to solve a problem when the answer is in plain sight. The video was interesting and enjoyable, a far cry from playing this in childhood piano lessons! I like to learn new things every day. <3 All the best!

    • laura bruno lilly

      The good news is that I’m encountering old unfinished/stuck projects and seeing their ‘in plain sight’ solutions finally! Glad to add to your daily knowledge, Cheryl.

  12. LA

    Now I’m thinking of every wedding I attended as a child and I won’t be able to get the rhythm out if my head

    • laura bruno lilly

      LOL – gotchya!

  13. rl2b2017

    Hi Laura! Sometimes the fix isn’t visual the first time around. It wasn’t time for you to have that song in your arsenal yet, and now it is. You’ve grown during that time and are able to look at the piece with “new” eyes. I think all aspects of life mimic this from time to time, don’t you? {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re soooo right, Roseanne! But it’s hard to have projects ‘hanging on and not finished’ in like forever! HA! I know you know that frustration as a quilter for sure.
      hug back atchya!

  14. Frank @ Beach Walk Reflections

    Love the video … and listening to the complexity change is a delightful experience. Cheers to the talented.

    • laura bruno lilly

      The video really shows in short order a lot of the noodling that can go into an arrangement, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  15. L. Marie

    Wow! The guy in the video is amazing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that tune. So many movies that even hint of Italy use it.
    Glad you found the fix to the problem. I also can’t tell you how many times I have agonized over something I have written that isn’t working, only to go back to my notes and realize I’d written a solution ages ago, but had forgotten to read my notes.

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Sounds like me, too – I guess it’s all part of the mix of being a creative.

  16. piecefulwendy

    You must have thought back then that maybe you needed to think on it a bit more? Funny how we come back to those notes and wonder why we didn’t use it right away. Anyway, it must be satisfying to have the solution!

    • laura bruno lilly

      As you said – funny how we ultimately come back to those notes and see the ‘forest’ instead of getting stuck on a single tree!

  17. Joanne Sisco

    I learn something new every day! While I was certainly familiar with the music, I didn’t know it came with a name. Cool!

    I was hoping you would include your own version ?

    • laura bruno lilly

      Your ‘hope’ is duly noted! Will probably include something on another arrangement of a different piece – keep an eye out for it!

  18. marissthequilter

    I am in awe of anyone who can play let alone compose music and so cannot comment on the technicalities. But I am always intrigued by a why. Perhaps because you thought it was too obvious or too simple at the time?
    I enjoyed the music clip, thank you.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, I probably thought it was too simplistic at that time and wanted to mull over other options. I have now realized the arrangement suits my needs. I think I wanted more razzle dazzle – but I’m happy with what I’ve got: something done and done! HA!

      • marissthequilter

        Sometimes simple is best

        • laura bruno lilly

          I’m relearning that principle as I progress through a myriad of unfinished/stuck projects during the Pandemic!

  19. Ally Bean

    The video is great. I like Level 9 when it becomes a Solo that morphs into Level 10’s Italian Party Tempo. Somehow that seems like a meaningful segue from alone to many, from introspective to joyful. And now I have my earworm for the day.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Whoa, great insights you’ve shared on the viewing of this instructional-type video. I hadn’t thought of it as ‘alone to many’. Enjoy your earworm, Ms Bean!

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