Sparks, Paul 1955-
SPARKS, Paul 1955-
Born 1955. Education: Attended Sussex University; City University, London, Ph.D., 1990.
Author and musician.
The Classical Mandolin, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
An Introduction to the Eighteenth-Century Repertoire of the Neapolitan Mandoline, Plucked String (Kensington, MD), 1999.
(With James Tyler) The Guitar and Its Music: From the Renaissance to the Classical Era, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Paul Sparks is a freelance musician and author who has written several books about the mandolin and guitar. Sparks collaborated with James Tyler to write The Early Mandolin: The Mandolino and the Neapolitan Mandoline. While his coauthor writes about the mandolino in the book, Sparks focuses on the mandolin, describing its emergence and eventual popularity throughout the Western world. Reviewing the book in Early Music, Tim Crawford noted that the "authors write well and clearly." He also praised the chapter titled "Guide to Playing the Neapolitan Mandoline," noting that it "provides a comprehensive introduction to stringing, seating positions, the plectrum (or rather, quill, as recommended by all the tutors) and its technique, ornaments, scordatura and accompaniments." Times Literary Supplement contributor Ian Woodfield commented that "the sympathetic portraits of the two mandolins presented in this study mark an important advance in our knowledge of eighteenth-century plucked instruments."
Sparks also authored the 1999 book An Introduction to the Eighteenth-Century Repertoire of the Neapolitan Mandoline, which features long-forgotten eighteenth-century compositions for the instrument, including works by Beethoven, Hummel, Barbella, and Leone. Sparks collaborated with Tyler again for the 2003 book The Guitar and Its Music: From the Renaissance to the Classical Era. Sparks's contribution to the book focuses on the development of the six-stringed guitar in Spain during the 1770s. In The Guitar and Its Music, Sparks describes the instrument as being central to much of the music of the eighteenth century. Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Anthony Pryor noted, "Books on the history of the guitar are not in short supply, but this is one of the very best."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Early Music, November, 1989, Tim Crawford, review of The Early Mandolin: The Mandolino and the Neapolitan Mandoline, pp. 569, 571, 573.
Instrumentalist, September, 1992, review of The Early Mandolin, p. 8.
Notes, December, 2003, Charles Youmans, review of The Guitar and Its Music: From the Renaissance to the Classical Era, p. 467.
Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2004, Victor Coelho, review of The Guitar and Its Music, p. 323.
Times Literary Supplement, August 4, 1989, Ian Woodfield, review of The Early Mandolin, p. 854; January 31, 2003, Anthony Pryer, review of The Guitar and Its Music, p. 30.*