Author Topic: Classical guitar  (Read 8241 times)

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Offline Shrunk

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Classical guitar
« on: June 24, 2007, 05:50:45 AM »
I play guitar (not particularly well, but I try), and as such my music collection contains a fair representation of guitar music.  However, it often seems to me that the only people who listen to guitarists are other guitarsits.  The same holds true for jazz guitar.

Am I right or wrong?  How many people here listen to classical guitar and, if so, are you a guitarist yourself?

Heather Harrison

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2007, 06:18:29 AM »
I have quite a few records and CDs of classical guitar music, and I have never played a guitar in my life.  It is a perfectly good instrument for classical music (especially music of the Spanish tradition); it has a wide range of expression and is capable of virtuoso display.  I also have many records and CDs of lute music.

Heather

Haffner

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2007, 06:25:55 AM »
I've played electric guitar for over 14 years, and I personally find the tone of the nylon string pleasant, but ultimately boring. That's just me.

I always thought Jeff Beck's tone on the Yardbirds' 1965 "Rave Up" lp introduced the more sustaining, vocal, personally pleasing electric guitar tone. The so expressive bends both with and without vibrato, the idiosyncratic slides...again I'm biased, but I'll take a hyper-amplified guitar playing the right hand piano half of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" over a nylon version any day.
Again, this is just my profoundly biased opinion.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2007, 06:29:52 AM »
Am I right or wrong?  How many people here listen to classical guitar and, if so, are you a guitarist yourself?

Shrunk - I have a TON of guitar recordings (classical, jazz, blues, bluegrass, & country; not to mention some 'world music') - we do have a guitar (pic below of a corner of the living room - wife uses to accompany her singing - she did take some 'classic guitar' lessons years ago at the North Carolina School of the Arts, but can't really play the music); as for me, I can 'pick out' a couple of ballads - so I guess neither of us are 'serious' guitar players!  ;D


Offline quintett op.57

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2007, 07:40:38 AM »
I'm not a guitarist.
It's true I almost don't have any classical guitar recordings but I enjoy it.
I sometimes listen to Django Reinhardt.

Offline Brian

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2007, 01:38:42 PM »
I listen to and enjoy classical guitar by Villa Lobos and other Spanish composers; in addition, I love listening to the CDs by the Trio Campanella (three guitarists who play arrangements of Albeniz and Granados).

However I do prefer the sound of the lute, and can listen to the lute much longer without tiring of it.

Offline Justin Ignaz Franz Bieber

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2007, 04:46:49 PM »
Am I right or wrong?  How many people here listen to classical guitar and, if so, are you a guitarist yourself?

I used to dabble with guitar & I have a whole bunch of classical guitar cds. Naxos has a good guitar series.
"I am, therefore I think." -- Nietzsche

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2007, 05:23:12 PM »
To be honest, I have never really enjoyed classical guitar very much (I play the piano, not that that is the reason). To me, it has always seemed a very one-dimensional instrument (dynamically, expressively, tonally, etc.). The only guitar music I really enjoy is flamenco and a tiny handful of jazz guitarists, led by the late, great Joe Pass.

BUT, if you enjoy it I don't think it really matters all that much what others (including non-guitar fans like me) think.  ;)
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2007, 06:00:09 PM »
I love the guitar as much as any other instrument.  My only complaint is its relatively low volume--but the harp has the same "problem," and composers usually get around it when writing for it and orchestra. :) I've played in the orchestra for Rodrigo's Concierto de aranjuez (unfortunately not the wonderful English horn solo!) and Concierto andaluz (with the Romeros! :D).
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2007, 02:49:46 AM »
Certainly my having played the guitar has granted me greater appreciation and insight into guitar music in general, though all my guitar playing/listening experience also diminishes my enjoyment of classical guitar to some extent. As others have said, it's a very limited, diffident sound compared to what's possible on the electric, or even a steel-string acoustic. It usually comes across as a sort of classical easy-listening experience, which is nice from time to time but hard to get overly enthused about. There is something to be said, though, for the gentle intimacy of solo classical guitar.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2007, 02:51:18 AM by Grazioso »
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Haffner

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2007, 03:03:05 AM »
Certainly my having played the guitar has granted me greater appreciation and insight into guitar music in general, though all my guitar playing/listening experience also diminishes my enjoyment of classical guitar to some extent. As others have said, it's a very limited, diffident sound compared to what's possible on the electric, or even a steel-string acoustic. It usually comes across as a sort of classical easy-listening experience, which is nice from time to time but hard to get overly enthused about. There is something to be said, though, for the gentle intimacy of solo classical guitar.





Classical guitar is often really beautiful sounding. But the hyperamplified electric is capable of so much more of a singing, sustaining tone. In that sense, it is a different (related) instrument to the classical guitar.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2007, 11:44:48 PM »
Personally I have a great love for instruments with a quiet intimate sound such as the guitar (or the clavichord for that matter) but only when, as with these two instruments, the sound itself, regardless of decibel level, is so very flexible without the need for distortion/effects applied electronically from without. To me, in their small, simple ways these instruments have much more truly expressive potential than instruments where the effects are not intrinsic to the method of sound production itself, because when you hear a vibrato, or a difference in tone, you are hearing something that reflects a real physical event, the action of finger on string or key, not filtered through a button being pressed or a switch flipped. As Terry Riley says (re acoustic piano v the various organs he used in the 60s and 70s):

Quote from: Terry Riley
There's a certain lack of breath, a breathing quality, in electronic instruments - the sound is sort of like light bulbs going on and of...

[fwiw, I don't think this applies so much to guitars at all, but it is a useful image]

Quote from: Terry Riley
...Even though the tone is supposed to be so sophisticated, it's still rather dull and flat compared to acoustic instruments, especially the vibration of a string, which is one of the most beautiful phenomena in sound

Of course, Riley was speaking in the 80s, since which time technology has moved on immeasurably; and he's talking about purely electronic instruments, not electric guitars which of course still have their vibrating strings. But as a general point I have to agree with him - I prefer no intervention between the string and my ear! However, there are exceptions to this general rule of mine - there are pieces, such as Gavin Bryars' After the Requiem, where the electric instrument seems as immediately expressive as anything acoustic I've ever heard. So perhaps I shouldn't be so dogmatic.  ;D

So, digression over, yes, I want to be counted amongst those who adore classical guitar. For me it is particularly intruiging in 20th century repertoire - masterpieces by Henze, Britten, Brouwer, Takemitsu, Ferneyhough, Tippett etc. make the instrument a pretty indispensible part of my listening. But we have members here who are a lot more informed on the issue than I am.

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2007, 02:23:04 AM »
Luke, I take your point, but a moderately distorted amplified guitar really sings--the "800-pound violin" effect--and clearly reproduces the nuances of the player's attack, vibrato, etc. It's when you get into the massive distortion employed by some rock bands that you start to lose that in favor of a more generic (yet still interesting and potentially effective) sound. A judicious and artful use of effects can also be pleasing, allowing one guitarist to create a wealth of textures.
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

lukeottevanger

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2007, 02:36:09 AM »
I am sure you are right! I don't know as much about these things as you do, and as I say, there is the one piece by Gavin Bryars (do you know it? - it is a very beautiful, moving and inventive piece) which completely pulls the rug from under me! I'm more than happy to concede that I am wrong. But as a general rule - because my interest in music is focussed on its potential as means of human communication, made by means of a human singing, or at most activating simple vibrating strings and things, I tend to find even the faults in thing - whether that be the quietness of a guitar or clavichord, or the strain in a performance caused by difficulty or emotion, or the flaws in a composer's works caused by their being honest and personal - to be much more full of meaning than when they are smoothed over by, respectively, technology, or virtuosity (if it is of the facile sort) or Rimsky-like re-orchestration. You see what I mean anyway... :)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2007, 02:37:41 AM »
Sounds like my usual pretentious nonsense, I know... :-[   But I can only say it as I see it!

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2007, 03:11:55 AM »
Luke, is it the string, or the wood? ??? ;D (BTW, I completely agree with you; there's just something about sound produced by vocal cords, strings, wood or metal that's very different from sound filtered through electronics.  And despite the later instruments' increased flexibility and power, there's something pure about the sound of, say, a wooden flute with fingerholes and not keys.)
Imagination + discipline = creativity

greg

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2007, 03:19:42 AM »
I don't listen to classical guitar since there's not much music for guitar in the styles I like, such as late Romanticism or even modernism. I've heard some, but there's not really that much.... so i mostly just stick with electric, which i've been playing for 7 years.

Haffner

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2007, 04:17:56 PM »
Excellent example for electric guitar:

bwv 1080

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2007, 04:37:23 PM »
Electric (particularly overdriven electric) and classical guitar are really two different instruments.  The classical guitar is a much more polyphonic instrument, falling somewhere between the bowed string instruments and keyboards in terms of the musical textures that are suited for it.  The electric guitar is much more analogous to the cello (it has about the same range) in terms of the kinds of things it can do.  The strength of the classical guitar is that it can combine the expressiveness of touch of a string instrument with the more complex textures of a keyboard.  As Luke said, the best of the repertoire is from the 20th century with pieces by Britten, Takemitsu, Carter and others.

Haffner

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Re: Classical guitar
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2007, 04:45:56 PM »
Electric (particularly overdriven electric) and classical guitar are really two different instruments.  The classical guitar is a much more polyphonic instrument, falling somewhere between the bowed string instruments and keyboards in terms of the musical textures that are suited for it.  The electric guitar is much more analogous to the cello (it has about the same range) in terms of the kinds of things it can do.  The strength of the classical guitar is that it can combine the expressiveness of touch of a string instrument with the more complex textures of a keyboard.  As Luke said, the best of the repertoire is from the 20th century with pieces by Britten, Takemitsu, Carter and others.




Great post!