Classical Guitar Augmented is special guitar-focussed newsletter from the Bangalore School of Music, by Poireinganba Thangjam. Each article focusses on one artiste who has impacted the language of contemporary classical guitar. It reads in two parts: an introduction to the artiste followed by an interview. More about the series and an introduction to this edition here.
This month on CG+, we are glad to have Italian Guitarist/Composer Ganesh del Vescovo who has experimented on the guitar in many diverse styles and beyond traditional norms fusing the East and the West in it’s circular motion while creating a style of his own! A spiritual, one of the most humble and humane musician around the world, Ganesh del Vescovo shares his thoughts and experiences in our latest issue. Let’s start digging into his music! It has ideas more valuable than crude oil and natural gases much farther away from the industrial consumerism of the era but the flow of shared ideas and delving into unexplored landscapes of musical creativity…
Artiste Introduction: Ganesh del Vescovo, Italy
Italian Guitarist and Composer Ganesh Del Vescovo, today considered a virtuoso of the classical guitar, began his guitar studies as a self taught musician. An important meeting with Alvaro Company, a pupil of Andrès Segovia, brought him to follow Company’s courses at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, where he graduated with full grades, cum laude and honourable mention “for his extraordinary skill in portraying the character and mood of the pieces performed.”
Straight from the start Del Vescovo’s activity as a composer developed hand in hand with the study of the instrument itself. He always felt free to experiment and explore new guitar techniques, and thus developed a very personal musical concept, partly inspired by his meeting with Indian classical music and musicians. He does not use the more formal aspects of this tradition, but his approach to music is close to the spirit, the aesthetic experience, and the strength of expression of this musical world. He also plays the sarod, an ancient Indian string instrument, and the tabla, and has composed original pieces for both. This particular musical pursuit and approach to composition, which was developed through the exploration of sounds, rhythms and timbres bring about particular inner feelings and moods, led to the necessity of modifying the classical guitar. Two new instruments were thus created: the “Chikari Guitar” and the “Sarod Guitar”, which have the function of a flexible drone and which also allow a free use of glissé techniques and a very deep non-tempered sound effect. He has presented these instruments, showing their relative techniques, in various guitar Festivals and events. He has also given many Master Classes, Workshops and Seminars relative to the various techniques he has developed and explored.
Publications of the music of Ganesh Del Vescovo include: with Sinfonica Nuova Carisch (Milan), Sei studi, Dodici studi di transizione also accompanied by CDs interpreted by himself; Tre studi giovanili; Tre reminiscenze per chitarra; Jasidih Express; Sandhya; for guitar and flute, Three Dhuns. In 2010 he published the guitar transcription of Children’s Corner by Debussy including a CD accompaniment. The guitarist Andrea Vettoretti recorded, for Phoenix Editions, Tre reminiscenze and Sei studi di transizione.
The Tre reminiscenze are present in the concert repertoire of Kazuhito Yamashita, who in September 2005 in Nagasaki, also gave the world premiere of the composition dedicated to him, Suite “alla montagna”. Later in the next year Yamashita performed Ganesh Del Vescovo’s the entire transcription for guitar of Schubert’s Six Moments Musicaux in a concert in Tokyo on occasion of their publication by Gendai Guitar (Tokyo). In 2009 Del Vescovo published a DVD of his own compositions with GMC Guitar Media Collection (Florence).
Ganesh del Vescovo won the First Prize for Composition at the International Festival “Claxica 2011” at Castel d’Aiano, Bologna with the piece for guitar solo Schegge di luce (“Splinters of Light”). The same year he released a recording and sheet music of his piece Otto fantasie sopra melodie indiane.
His restlessness in making music and recordings in 2013 led to the publication by Sinfonica, transcription of Mozart’s Sonata n° 11 (with DVD), his own Sonatina giocosa for flute and guitar; Ten Impromptus in the Form of Studies (CD included performed by the composer).
(Watch Mozart’s Sonata no. 11 performed by Ganesh Del Vescovo on Youtube)
In 2015 the same publishing house published Sei studi (Second series). The entire works for guitar solo of Ganesh Del Vescovo are being prepared and will soon be published by Sinfonica, thus completing the works that have already been published. The works will consist in three volumes, each with CD counterparts. A monographic “booklet” about his works on the guitar is about to be published by Guitart, as well as a CD dedicated to his music published by EMA Vinci.
(Watch Sei Studi performed by Ganesh Del Vescovo on Youtube)
His curriculum includes many articles and have appeared in various newspapers and magazines, written by outstanding critics, musicians, writers and musicologists such as: Leonardo Pinzauti, Daniele Spini, Alvaro Company, Angelo Gilardino, Mario Luzi, Kazuhito Yamashita, Keiko Fujiie Franco Cavallone, Piero Viti, Ermanno Brignolo, Steve Marsh, Stephen Kenyon, Eleonora Negri, Baret Magarian, Francesca Joppolo, etc. His compositions (Sheet music, CDs and DVDs) are often been reviewed as the best publications of the moment.
Besides his own compositions, his concert repertoire includes music belonging to the many periods of the classical guitar: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern and Contemporary. Ganesh del Vescovo has developed a personal technique of transcribing music written for other instruments, therefore his repertoire also includes his own transcriptions of authors such as Bach, Frescobaldi, Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and Verdi.
He has performed as a soloist in many concert halls in Italy and in Europe, (France, Spain, Greece, Austria, Switzerland). In 2012 he held concerts in India to represent Italy at the International Book Fair of Kolkata. During the same tournée he played in Delhi, and on other occasions in other cities in India, (Munger, Deoghar).
He gave the first world performance of the pieces: Ballade, Notturno, Il Concerto catalano and Quattro pezzi in memoria by Alvaro Company; Circo Minore by Sylvano Bussotti; in 2015, for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the first Italian performance of Le stagioni artificiali by Salvatore Sciarrino. Ganesh Del Vescovo’s Studies and compositions are featured on the syllabus of various conservatories, academies and music schools in Italy and other parts of the world.
At present he holds guitar courses and Master Classes at the Scuola di Musica at Sesto Fiorentino.
The great Italian poet Mario Luzi wrote about him: “Over the years I have heard Del Vescovo play many times on different occasions and it always made me feel as though I had entered into an enchanted sphere consisting of the emotions and feelings of a beautiful musical talent; a personal yet communicative, and at times self-luminous sphere.”
In Conversation with Ganesh del Vescovo
with Poireinganba Thangjam (Len)
You’ve had earlier visits to India performing as the Grand Closure for the Kolkata International Book Fair, 2011. How would you re-sketch the experience and India?
My first experience in India was not directly related to music. It was an important part of my spiritual pursuit. I went especially to meet Swami Satyananda Saraswati in person in Munger. In fact he gave me the spiritual name that I use as an artist. Now I use it as my name and as you know, it brings good luck. So I think it has brought some to me! Since then I have gone to India often, first to Munger and then to Rikhiapeeth (Deoghar, Jharkhand), for the same reason: in order to deepen my spiritual pursuit. This kind of pursuit is very much in tune with what I have always searched for in music.
Concerning the experience at the International Book Fair in Kolkata in 2011, I can only say that on that particular occasion I was invited by the Italian Ambassador to India to represent Italy. That year Italy was the guest of honour. The Kolkata experience was absolutely unique and unrepeatable. I played a concert at the Italian Pavillon in front of a huge crowd. I remember that I had a programme which included some of my compositions taken from Fantasie sopra melodie indiane (Fantasies on Indian Melodies). One of them is the famous Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram Patita Pavana Sita Ram. While I was playing it, towards the end of the concert, an unexpected silence suddenly flooded the pavillon.
Then I began to hear people starting to sing the words, following the melody of the piece. At this point I began to improvise. It was a magical moment, and I think it could only happen in India. This is the way the Book Fair of Kolkata ended: with a beautiful total immersion in a spontaneous flow of music, created by the union with an enormous crowd of people.
(Watch Fantasie sopra melodie indiane 4 performed by Ganesh Del Vescovo on Youtube)
I totally agree that spirituality and the search for meaning (either through Hindu meditation techniques or Zen etc.) as it leads to Reasoning and Creativity for many artists. And to go further into that, I believe, the pursuit’s final result, or I’d rather say ‘tool’, is ‘Silence’ which (where) the root of inspirations & creation begins. I know this is a vast and difficult topic and many people have talked or written about it, but could you express a little bit about it from your own experience of ‘Silence’ or ‘Calmness’ so that people could feel it’s necessity and try to experience it too?
I have never really been exposed to any formal religion so I don’t know much about them. When I speak of spirituality I refer to the deepest part of man, to the deepest most hidden part of reality. Art is a strong means of comunication, and I feel that music is the means of comunication. It can transmit calmness, or even a feeling of silence, but also other aspects of nature. Dynamic dimensions exist, all kinds of moods exist and these too can be beautifully expressed through music. This exists in all musical traditions, and is very well defined in Indian ragas and rasas.
I would like to add a rather delicate element. While playing or composing, it can happen (but it might not happen) that the musician enters into a different inner dimension. He no longer feels that it is he who is doing the action, but that a magical energy is flowing through him. This can be illusion or it can constitute part of what we could call a “spiritual experience”. You belong to that, you are no longer what you feel you are as an individual. A feeling of freedom and joy, without the participation of the individual self. This is what led me to become a musician. This is what I am searching for. It does not belong to any religious tradition.
Yes, I do believe in that. Also, from what I’ve read about your early life, since 1982 up till, I’m not sure when; you led the life of a gypsy living in a caravan until you met Swami Uttarkashi Biswas and then an introduction to Yoga. I feel this early part of your life is a compelling and serious build-up to your present being. Would you mind sharing some experience of this time of your life?
Evidently this is one of the subjects which fascinates other people the most, and a whole book could be written about it. I have already spoken much about it in various interviews. However what I would like to explain here is what my life experiences up until 1982 really meant. I would say that there is actually no difference between before and after, because everything had a clear and precise goal and purpose.
My purpose was and is the pursuit of an inner experience through music. I come from a simple family that did not understand my musical aspirations. This is why, without any money at all, I left my family of origin (where I lived in a tiny, isolated country village) and lived for a few years in a caravan just outside Florence, “like a gypsy”, as you put it! Other people might call it a “sacrifice” – hunger, lack of material needs and contacts – but for me it never represented a sacrifice. I didn’t eat, but I never suffered from hunger. So I say to all students that, if they have a clear goal and purpose, nothing will seem like a sacrifice. Rather, every sacrifice will mean moving one step forward.
I considered music to be a means to know oneself better inwardly, and this is also what brought me closer to Oriental thought, to yoga and consequently to India. It is clear that I am not only referring to physical yoga, but to everything that holistic yoga can and must represent. Then I met the Biswas family in Florence (which Swami Uttarkashi is part of). They teach yoga practices and also as a complete way of life, and they got me to know the music, the culture and the thought of India. I am still living with them.
I’ve asked and have read or seen this question been asked to most musicians and since it’s very superficial on it’s outer layer most dodge out of it because it too expansive naming their influences that led them pick up the guitar. But for reasons of exploring the known or unknown faces behind the present figure, I tend to believe it’s a valuable question. So, who are the people who inspired you in the beginning and whom do you listen to these days?
As I think can be deduced from all the answers I have given, the only influence I had to “pick up the guitar” was totally fortuitous. There just happened to be a broken guitar in my aunt’s attic. It only had one string, and everything began with this. I would sit and listen to the sounds that I could produce on the instrument. I added strings, and developed a hybrid instrument. The only influence I received was within my need to find inner peace, and when I played my instrument, I found exactly what I was pursuing.
Much later I heard a recording of Segovia, and I was fascinated by the sound and the moods. This made me love the guitar even more. Then I began to get interested in the classical music for the guitar. Actually what followed was my encounter with Mr. Company, who invited me to Florence so I could begin some academic studies of the guitar. However the inspiration and need to feel and express my feelings and emotions through music was the same then, was the same during my studies and is still the same today.
Collaborating with Arcaddio Baracchi (flautist) and Andrea Vettoretti (Guitarist) and Kazuhito Yamashita (Guitarist), and if viable would you exemplify on the nature of collaborations and benefits?
There was an intense collaboration with Kazuhito Yamashita. I wrote some pieces for him and he performed them in Europe, in Japan and all over the world. Thanks to him my transcriptions of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux were published by Gendai in Tokyo. He did the first world performance of all of them in Tokyo and I was invited to the inauguration concert. I stayed for nearly one month at his home in Japan in Nagasaki, and he took me to various concerts of traditional Japanese music as well as traditional Japanese theatre. All this evidently meant a lot to me and gave me an occasion to have a broader and more vast understanding of various possible musical horizons.
Personally I would advise everyone to broaden their horizons and to extend their own musical and cultural knowledge to other cultures, other sounds and other traditions. This does not mean changing one’s own culture or mixing things up, but it helps to further understand oneself and to appreciate one’s own culture even more.
I think that the collaboration with other musicians and instrumentalists can help to inspire and stimulate a desire to carry on and deepen one’s study of the guitar’s potentialities and qualities of sound. This could be a benefit for students as well.
Perfection is an illusionary height in time and space. But it’s chasing this ‘Illusion’ that one develops great artistry and also a road block to improvement in many cases. What advice would you suggest to students who are perfectionists?
I think I have already partially answered this question in our earlier chat. (Here’s the quote from the earlier talks) “It is easy to understand that the ancient classical Indian music tradition is difficult to follow and keep alive – so it seems natural to find an alternative. I have often felt that the guitar can offer this kind of alternative. I suggest that straight from the start it would be necessary that they understand that the teaching system need not necessarily consist in the usual ways of learning. For example my experience demonstrates that one can learn to play by experimenting personal techniques – and not to be afraid to make some personal research, just because these things are not usually taught in academic schools. A musician who has a strictly academic training usually shrinks when they have to face anything new. But the solutions have to be new, otherwise everyone would play the same things in the same way like computers. Of course the pupils have to learn the traditional techniques of placing the fingers in the right places – but the rest can depend on a philosophy of research. Also I think it is important not to influence and condition the pupils’ music taste. I have often found that people are inhibited by their teachers. Often one thinks one’s taste is personal, while it is actually conditioned by teachers and other elements that have influenced his personal feeling for music. One must learn to love and know other ways of listening and playing in order to be able to find one’s own way in composition.”
Actually, for students who want to reach perfection, I can add this: in reality perfection does not exist. It is necessary to understand that it is the performer who transmits his own idea and energy to the listener and an eventual audience. For example, if I concentrate all of my attention on studying how not to make mistakes, and then go and play with such an attitude, the audience or listener will unconsciously perceive only the tension created by a desire for perfection and their attention will turn towards eventual errors, even if I don’t make any. There are many musicians who establish their studies entirely on perfection so much so that when one hears them play they do not transmit the essence and flow of art; that is to say, one misses out on exactly what should get through to the listener.
My advise to students is to work to correct their mistakes while studying at home, but to always keep their mind set on the music, and when performing for others, to forget all about this aspect. Errors are a part of life, just as there must be what we call “errors” in a musical discourse, but the listener will not perceive them as such if the energy and flow of music are there.
Many years ago, when I would perform, I thought I had played badly and that I had made many mistakes. Actually the errors were there, but when I heard myself on a recording of the event, I saw that the errors had become a part of the musical discourse. This does not mean being sloppy and doing things in a disorderly fashion. I am only emphasising the essence of what I have been saying. Today we often hear musicians who are apparently perfect, but the music does not transmit the energy and the flow of sound for the listener to perceive in his mind and in his heart. One thing is to improve one’s technique, and another thing is to focus the mind on “perfection”. It is better to aim at excellence and at improving oneself, free from the tensions created by the idea of a non existent perfection.
What is your ideology on helping students with limited practice time?
This is a very good practical question. Above all I advise all students to work on the quality of sound of the guitar. This is especially true for students who do not have much time at their disposal. It is good to concentrate on one thing at a time. For example: to work on one touch, on one technique, or on musical expression (crescendo and diminuendo, forte, piano, etc.). I would suggest to work on only one aspect at a time, without ignoring or neglecting the other aspects, but to see them with detachment. Otherwise the condensed study time bring about mental fatigue and consequently the studies could become dispersive. The need to concentrate one’s study in a short period of time tends to make both beginners and people who don’t have much time at their disposal, play everything at once, in one session. In this way they could even create some automatic mistakes that will it be hard to eliminate. So it could paradoxically turn out to be a waste of time.
Those who lack time risk wasting still more time on scales, arpeggios, etc. if they are done separately without a musical discourse. This can also make one dependent on these practices. This is a very important point for those who play written music. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t be played, but that they shouldn’t gain too much importance. For example, if one finds it difficult to play a passage or a piece of music, it is important to do the exercises that are relevant to that particular passage, so that the exercise has a precise aim and purpose.
Can you briefly describe the various Schools of Guitar in Italy? In which School would you place yourself at the present career of your life and musical style?
In my opinion every School in Italy and elsewhere has it’s own teacher who has his own personal way of thinking and teaching. Everything depends a lot on who does the teaching. Personally I don’t believe much in methods for the guitar but rather in how the method is used.
I cannot place myself in any particular School. I had a teacher, Mr. Alvaro Company, who was a direct pupil of Mr. Andrès Segovia, but I do not define myself as part of Segovia’s tradition. However Mr. Company taught me a very powerful and essential aspect of Segovia’s conception of the guitar’s sound quality: the study of sound, timbres, colours and the exploration of the many sound nuances hidden in the instrument.
Do you believe there is a ‘crisis’ rising in modern music relating to the new styles, forms or ideology of compositions from contemporary composers and poor audience engagement? (If you feel so, how would you encourage the audience to learn to appreciate these new innovative ideas?)
I think the biggest problem on this field lies in the listener, and not in the musician. Often when people listen to music they are not focused on what they are hearing, but listen in a conditioned fashion. This conditioning damages the capacity to listen, to hear and to feel. Because of this, when they hear a new use of sound, a new scale, a new and different way of composing or playing, it is the conditioning which creates an obstacle. I would create schools for listeners! I am joking, but I do mean what I say. Actually these people often do not realise that the problem is their conditioning, and they begin to judge the music in a completely wrong light. I do not mean to say that all works are good, however the listener should be able to discriminate whether it is really he who is deciding or if his judgment is the result of his conditioning. In order to create musical taste with sincerity, it is necessary to get out of this trap of conditioning. I have often had pupils that had been conditioned in this way. All I had to do was let them listen to something that was different from their usual standards, from the tonalities that they were used to, and they would flatly refuse whatever it was.
How can we help to overcome this limitation? Not by telling the pupil, “This is beautiful, this is ugly, this is good, this isn’t.” The pupil might answer, “This is not my musical taste”. It would be better if the teacher began by saying, “If you want to play the things you like better, it would be good if you understood this other aspect as well. This would help you to play the things that you like in a better way.” At this point the teacher can perhaps broaden the horizons of the pupil and open his perceptions to new sounds and new kinds of music. One day the pupil might say, “How come I didn’t notice this before?” This does not happen with all students, but a teacher can try his best. Here too it depends a lot on the teacher and on his own conditioning.
As a teacher I have seen that, after having been exposed to hearing or playing works of various kinds even music that was not of “their taste” – when the pupils went back to play what they liked, they did it much better.
Personally, for example, when I have been working some time with very different kinds of music, when I go back to playing Bach’s music, which I love very much, I play it still better, I feel and experience it more deeply, and live it with more ease. I feel that it is closer to me, and that music is one and not divided into categories, styles or cultural traditions.
You are heavily influenced by Indian music and two new instruments, ‘Chikari Guitar’ and ‘Sarod Guitar’ was created. Could you share the process of it’s development and uses in relation to the numerous works you’ve written for them?
Straight from the start I began experimenting with various ways of playing the guitar, dealing both with its sound and with the way the instrument was built. I did this in order to obtain, extend and expand special sounds which I felt and heard with my inner ear. I wanted to transmit these sounds through music. However I soon realised that the guitar did not seem to have them.
I began playing, composing and studying the guitar as a self-taught musician. I just improvised on the instrument. However at a certain point I felt the need for drones and other sounds that I felt were missing on the instrument. So with my own hands, I began to add strings to the classical guitar. This is how the Chikari Guitar was born. I called it Chikari Guitar because I liked the high pitched tones of Indian intruments. So I added two metal strings and a mobile bridge. I have never composed Indian classical music for this instrument, however this guitar produces such magical sounds that I wrote some pieces for it that people think are Indian. They just have a special sound quality and a mood which might make them seem similar to Indian music, but actually they don’t have any of the formal aspects of Indian classical music.
(Watch Vritti due for Chikari Guitar performed by Ganesh Del Vescovo on Youtube)
When I encountered Indian classical music and learnt to play the classical Sarod, I felt an urge to merge the sound quality of the Western guitar with the beautiful sounds of the Sarod. Half of the fingerboard is that of a normal classical guitar and the other half is covered with metal, like the Sarod. I wrote a piece for it with the intention of merging Indian and Western music. It is the first piece that I wrote for this instrument, and it is called Advaita Ananda. It can be found on my Youtube channel.
What was your most challenging project/composition and how did you overcome the challenge?
As far as challenges are concerned, personally I have never experienced the feeling of “challenge”. Whatever happens it is best to continue moving forward, trying to do one’s best, and taking gain and loss in their stride. This is all part of life, part of projects, part of studying, composing and performing. As I mentioned, I was born in a very simple family of farmers, in a part of Italy where life is not easy. This had its pros and cons, but one thing was certain: things had to be done when they had to be done, and were not considered as challenges. Just normal obstacles to be overcome. This is of course my very personal viewpoint.
In a more personal as well as a monumental widespread rush, what do you suppose is the reason why most Western composers from John Cage to Marek Pasienczy turn towards the East to draw their inspirations? And personally for you, how do you maintain the Balance between these two wide cultures?
I truly believe that Eastern music opened up a new way for many Western musicians and composers. It is hard for a sensitive musician and artist to ignore the vast universe of Eastern music. For example, let’s take a look at Debussy and at how important the meeting with Eastern music was for him. He then influenced musicians of completely different kinds; for example his music and musical concepts influenced Edgard Varèse who intuitively didn’t believe in the limitations of the tempered systems. He felt that sound was something continuous. He took his music and use of sound in an apparently different direction, but he too loved classical Eastern music. His concept of the infinity of universal sound and his absolute need to search for new solutions for the music of the future were inspired by his encounters with Debussy and with Eastern music and musicians.
These musicians and others did not pick up the Eastern scales in order to make a clumsy imitation of Eastern music. They imbibed and understood the vast, universal and infinite meaning and concept of sound in the East, and they made it their own. This is what I advise doing: not to imitate but to imbibe, to understand and then to do what one feels is his own way of performing and composing. In other words an inspiration and a motivation rather than a formal model. This is what I have always tried to do.
Actually for me there is no difference between the two cultures. It is necessary to find Balance within oneself. This is why I say that music is one, and if yoga means union, music is a wonderful means to develop this union. However the first step is to search for balance within oneself. Then we will not wonder about how to keep harmony and balance amongst various cultures. India has a lot to give to the West and the West has a lot to give to India.
I continue to compose what I feel within myself, and my choice of a repertoire of other composers as well depends on what I feel at the moment. As I mentioned above, much depends on the conditioning of both composer and performer, because conditioning creates a huge limitation in the individual. There must of course be discipline during the period of training but there must always be an inspiration, an aspiration, a motivation and a drive to move towards a refinement and fulfilling of one’s own creativity: this is the ultimate goal. And it must be done in a balanced and harmonious way.
As I was reading your answer I feel the immensity of what was being said and I take every word for it. But taking about the compositions, I wouldn’t say their works are “clumsy imitations”. Never… (excluding real imitated pieces that are also really out there). There are enormous number of works which are masterpieces with this East-West collaboration and that’s the reason why I wanted to know this process in a deeper level.
As I already said, with two very different examples, the works of people like Debussy, Varèse, John Cage etc. never did make any clumsy imitations. They do not directly use the formal systems of oriental musical traditions but were and are open to new dimensions of sound. This has influenced many composers. There have been many developments in the encounters of Eastern and Western music since then, but since I am not a musicologist or a historian of music, I can’t really discuss this in a knowledgeable fashion.
That’s alright. What you’ve said is enough to enlighten an understanding and I’m very happy for that. Now, would you mind sharing some of projects and experimentations you are working now or plans for the future in expanding your musical styles, an explanation of how guitar music can be elaborated to higher realms?
Because I have experimented with so many different hidden aspects and potentialities of the classical guitar, people say that the first thing they think of when they refer to my music and to my way of playing is, The Guitar Without Boundaries. This is in fact the subheading of the Guide to my works and techniques which will be published by Guitart at the beginning of 2016, and is actually the title of the interview which will is being published this month by the magazine Guitart as an introduction to the forthcoming book.
It is one of the richest amongst polyphonic instruments, but I found that it’s potentials are often not fully exploited. This is the reason that I was asked to write down my experiences and my experiments with different ways of playing and composing for the instrument. I tried therefore, to clearly and concisely describe some techniques which depict and indicate ways leading to the expression of some of the infinite possibilities which the guitar possesses: its polyphonic qualities, an unexpected range of low and high registers, the enormously rich extension of sounds, colours, timbres, masses of sound, interplaying rhythms and delicate monodies. The guitar can create and transmit all this and more. It certainly does not immediately reveal its full character, its whole essence and being. So I firmly believe that this mysterious intrument still has many secrets to reveal. It is however fundamental to develop, experiment, teach and transmit techniques which would allow the guitar to continue evolving its enormous potentialities.
It is not actually a didactic text, but a combination of my experiences as a guitarist and a composer for the guitar. It includes a few ways that I have faced and realised the potential qualities of the instrument in relation to a desired inner mood, an expression and a musical interpretation. The work is divided into five chapters, and each chapter deals with a few of my ways of playing and composing for the guitar. It is accompanied by explanatory tables and with graphic, audio and written examples. At the end of the text there is an appendix which shows a few of the modifications I have made on the guitar. There is also a note referring to my way of transcribing music written for other instruments. A CD accompanies the “Guide”.
This is a great project and we anticipate the publication. I’d like to have more discussions with you on this after the release and probably in another issue we can continue again. As a closure to this enlightening conversation with you, what would you like to add for the benefit of students of the instrument?
First, understand that the classical guitar is by no means an easy instrument to learn. Many people think it is easier than it actually is, and are surprised to find out that it is difficult and therefore give up. But, it is well worth while to try and try again, because the guitar is capable of giving so much to the student and the listener alike. Discover your purpose and aim.
Then, it is best to move slowly through all the phases of learning: position, posture, fingering, various basic techniques etc. So, be patient and persevere. Do not force the issue. This could cause stress and tension. Take your time, and be aware of your aim.
Find a proper teacher who can lead you through the long journey of exploration and discovery of the instrument.
Learn to listen to the multifarious sonorities and sound qualities of the instrument. Listening is very important. And allow the “inner ear” to develop. A kind of “listening to the sixth sense”!
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Slowly the instrument can begin to unfold all its beauty. Then the sound and the music become part of oneself.
Do some simple yoga asanas (physical and mental exercises) and simple deep breathing exercises to overcome tensions and relax the body, the mind and the emotions in a natural way. Persevere, do not be afraid, and keep on moving in order to discover and reveal the hidden potentialities of this very complex instrument.
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and the story behind the personality, inspirations, experiences and all your invaluable suggestions for the readers of the Newsletter. These words of yours will surely benefit any reader and I hope it’ll give them a new perspective on Guitar and Music as a whole and dig deeper towards the details. Thank you for having this conversation with me and I hope we’ll make a chance to discuss your Guide – “Guitar Without Boundaries” after it gets published. All the very best in your life and forthcoming musical endeavours. I sincerely wish you peace and calmness throughout your creative life!