Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Sharon Vizcaino
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Sharon Vizcaino » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:48 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote: Kids would not pick a guitar? I disagree again... sorry :) they do pick a guitar, but more likely acoustic or electric, less likely classical. Orchestra instruments? Just because parents or school will tell them so...
Acoustic or electric guitar seems more attractive for kids - because they are more popular seen everywhere and... probably because they could have more "freedom" - one will pick electric guitar to play with band and to make new songs., but one who would take "classical" will have to ply "classical" music, therefore will not create his/her own music.
That could be a main "problem" of classical guitar... in some way it could seems to people like some kind of a sport discipline where people compete with each other who will play better very narrow repertoire...at least it could look like that from outside :)
I lived in Mexico 4 winters (5-6 months each) and met and personally know many many "mariachi" who played by fingers, but some play with picks too - you are right.
I guess I need to learn to express what I'm saying better through the internet... For the sake of this discussion, assume that whenever I say guitar I mean classical, haha.

Yeah, that might be it. Honestly, I think more people would like it if they simply knew it existed. But ah, well, we obviously can't compete with the likes of [insert latest Pop sensation here].

Oh, for sure. But in my experience (born and raised there, came to the US at 18. I'm in college as an international student, actually!), most will play with picks, though it depends on the specific song they're playing. It's also common to see musicians in restaurants, and since they're usually singing too, what they play is mostly accompaniment with some "requinto" here and there, so a pick's much better suited to that. That said, I feel like most of them can probably play at least some classical guitar. It's also common for schools to offer guitar as an elective. My high school's "music" class was basically us getting the school guitars and playing whatever we wanted for an hour. Good times... Surely more kids would play guitar elsewhere if it were an option. Though perhaps less would be interested because it's not as culturally significant.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Jim Davidson » Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:09 am

Sharon Vizcaino wrote: I think part of the problem is that without Segovia, there isn't a single name the average person can associate with classical guitar. Generally, when I mention classical guitar and someone looks confused I say "Like Segovia" (or rather, I wish...), and that's enough for most people to remember that, oh, of course, classical guitar's an instrument too. But younger kids have just never heard of him (or any other CG player, for that matter), which is a problem when you think about the future of the instrument...
See, here's the interesting thing to me. I've seen a few solo steel string players who have really made avenues with the general public. Sungha Jung is a huge name now. Andy McKee and Jon Gomm are also well known. I have a lot of students would have never learned guitar if it weren't for one of the three.

I know that might sound irrelevant when talking about classical guitar, but they essentially fill the same niche in the musical world.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Sharon Vizcaino » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:08 am

Jim Davidson wrote:
Sharon Vizcaino wrote: I think part of the problem is that without Segovia, there isn't a single name the average person can associate with classical guitar. Generally, when I mention classical guitar and someone looks confused I say "Like Segovia" (or rather, I wish...), and that's enough for most people to remember that, oh, of course, classical guitar's an instrument too. But younger kids have just never heard of him (or any other CG player, for that matter), which is a problem when you think about the future of the instrument...
See, here's the interesting thing to me. I've seen a few solo steel string players who have really made avenues with the general public. Sungha Jung is a huge name now. Andy McKee and Jon Gomm are also well known. I have a lot of students would have never learned guitar if it weren't for one of the three.

I know that might sound irrelevant when talking about classical guitar, but they essentially fill the same niche in the musical world.
Ahahaha, kinda funny that you mention it because Sungha Jung IS how I got into acoustic guitar. Heck, I can play at least 20 of his compositions/arrangements. How silly of me to forget it. That's actually a really good point. Now that I think about it, I've seen a bunch of kids (on YouTube, mostly) who started with steel-strings and then switched to classical. I guess this is a good thing for classical guitar, then!
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by dory » Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:32 pm

I will still reiterate that I hear a lot of classical guitar out there. I don't know how weird my experience is. I wasn't listening to our local classical music radio station at all, but discovered by accident that they play a lot of classical guitar and also lute. I now listen more often. Yes, they play more orchestral pieces than solo instrumental, and the violin usually plays the lead melody line. They also play more solo piano than classical guitar, but the imbalance is not as big as you would think. I will also say that in South America the classical guitar as an instrument is extremely common. Steel string guitars, whike not unknown are not as common as here although electric guitars are pretty popular with rockers. However, most people are not using classical technique on their classical guitars.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Smudger5150 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:32 am

Sharon Vizcaino wrote:
Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:08 am
Jim Davidson wrote:
Sharon Vizcaino wrote: I think part of the problem is that without Segovia, there isn't a single name the average person can associate with classical guitar. Generally, when I mention classical guitar and someone looks confused I say "Like Segovia" (or rather, I wish...), and that's enough for most people to remember that, oh, of course, classical guitar's an instrument too. But younger kids have just never heard of him (or any other CG player, for that matter), which is a problem when you think about the future of the instrument...
See, here's the interesting thing to me. I've seen a few solo steel string players who have really made avenues with the general public. Sungha Jung is a huge name now. Andy McKee and Jon Gomm are also well known. I have a lot of students would have never learned guitar if it weren't for one of the three.

I know that might sound irrelevant when talking about classical guitar, but they essentially fill the same niche in the musical world.
Ahahaha, kinda funny that you mention it because Sungha Jung IS how I got into acoustic guitar. Heck, I can play at least 20 of his compositions/arrangements. How silly of me to forget it. That's actually a really good point. Now that I think about it, I've seen a bunch of kids (on YouTube, mostly) who started with steel-strings and then switched to classical. I guess this is a good thing for classical guitar, then!
Sorry guys, I've been doing lots of searches and finding these interesting older threads so I couldn't help commenting on some of them.
Is that bad form? Slap me if it is...

However, as someone who loved all styles of guitar music, I personally think that we should all be focusing on whether acoustic guitar (whatever the string type - steel, nylon, wool, plastic, rubber bands....) is popular and how the crossovers between styles can help all the different types of guitar.
I think a lot of classical guitar players on this forum do like a wide variety of guitar music (jazz, folk, flamenco, rock, blues, metal etc etc) but sometimes the vibe I get from what is written is that the only thing that matters in the world is classical guitar and that everything else is inferior and is only tolerated at best. I admit that maybe that's just because we're all hear for a reason - to talk about classical guitar and not other styles particularly - but nevertheless it sometimes feel like that.

So when I hear that young players have been turned on to classical guitar from listening 1st to steel string acoustic guitar players then this really resonates with me because I can see (from my own perspective) how listening to any guitar, but especially acoustic (and I mean non-amplified/electric guitar) leads to a curiosity about all styles of guitar playing.
So if we as a community promoted a lot more non-'classical' pieces and crossovers into different styles, or at least, more popular tunes in a classical perspective, like some of the players someone mentioned earlier, then we would draw a lot more people into the genre.

Maybe I'm just rallying in a small way against the elitism and narrow repertoire that some people play. If I was a concert-standard player I'd try and play a diverse range of styles e.g. Classical, jazz, folk, show tune, flamenco, bluegrass etc to really show the range of possibilities and try and draw everyone in. But then again, I'd probably alienate my audience if I did this

The flip-side of this is that I also enjoy a repertoire of pure 'classical' guitar and sometimes that can be very enticing i.e. to witness and enjoy the virtuoso playing and 'elite' music. And this also can be a reason for people to come to classical guitar - listening and/or playing - i.e. the challenge and feeling of accomplishment of attempting to master the instrument and the satisfaction of appreciating (usually) more complex music.

And the point about Randy Rhoads from the heavy metal genre is true. Current bands like Opeth from Sweden (an extreme metal band that have morphed into a progressive rock band) use a lot of acoustic interludes which could/can also inspire their fans to explore the acoustic side of guitar which leads, again, into the possibility of exploring Classical Guitar.

And don't forget singer/songwriter types like Ed Sheeran, Laura Marling and Jack Bugg who play acoustic or classical guitars. This introduces young people to acoustic guitar which, again, can lead to exploring other genres of guitar.

Much as I find the recent (?) trend for classical guitarists to bring out albums of Beatles and Queen music a bit trite (I've just heard Beatles songs one too many times...) , I applaud the idea of broadening the palette of the classical guitar.

So apologies (kind of) for the rant but I believe other styles of guitar, especially other 'acoustic' guitar, is an avenue into appreciating classical guitar and so embracing these other styles, wherever possible is, in my opinion, to be encourage.

Maybe it's been said before. Maybe not many of you agree, Maybe a lot of you do but my rants over now.
I'm off to program my music playlist on my laptop - Metallica followed by BB King followed by Ben Harper followed by Ida Presti followed by Paco De Lucia followed by Wes Montgomery followed by Iron Maiden followed by Funkadelic followed by Gordon Giltrap followed by Julian Bream followed by....

But to answer the original post - ...because the age of the Internet has watered down the promotion of all styles of music such that everything's getting lost although well-known players like Milos are keeping the publicity alive in the UK, at least. Maybe it's a double-edge sword - more information to wade through on the Interweb but much easier these days to view many, top classical guitar performances on the 'Tube etc.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Jim Davidson » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:48 am

Smudger5150 wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:32 am

Sorry guys, I've been doing lots of searches and finding these interesting older threads so I couldn't help commenting on some of them.
Is that bad form? Slap me if it is...

However, as someone who loved all styles of guitar music, I personally think that we should all be focusing on whether acoustic guitar (whatever the string type - steel, nylon, wool, plastic, rubber bands....) is popular and how the crossovers between styles can help all the different types of guitar.
I think a lot of classical guitar players on this forum do like a wide variety of guitar music (jazz, folk, flamenco, rock, blues, metal etc etc) but sometimes the vibe I get from what is written is that the only thing that matters in the world is classical guitar and that everything else is inferior and is only tolerated at best. I admit that maybe that's just because we're all hear for a reason - to talk about classical guitar and not other styles particularly - but nevertheless it sometimes feel like that.

So when I hear that young players have been turned on to classical guitar from listening 1st to steel string acoustic guitar players then this really resonates with me because I can see (from my own perspective) how listening to any guitar, but especially acoustic (and I mean non-amplified/electric guitar) leads to a curiosity about all styles of guitar playing.
So if we as a community promoted a lot more non-'classical' pieces and crossovers into different styles, or at least, more popular tunes in a classical perspective, like some of the players someone mentioned earlier, then we would draw a lot more people into the genre.

Maybe I'm just rallying in a small way against the elitism and narrow repertoire that some people play. If I was a concert-standard player I'd try and play a diverse range of styles e.g. Classical, jazz, folk, show tune, flamenco, bluegrass etc to really show the range of possibilities and try and draw everyone in. But then again, I'd probably alienate my audience if I did this

The flip-side of this is that I also enjoy a repertoire of pure 'classical' guitar and sometimes that can be very enticing i.e. to witness and enjoy the virtuoso playing and 'elite' music. And this also can be a reason for people to come to classical guitar - listening and/or playing - i.e. the challenge and feeling of accomplishment of attempting to master the instrument and the satisfaction of appreciating (usually) more complex music.

And the point about Randy Rhoads from the heavy metal genre is true. Current bands like Opeth from Sweden (an extreme metal band that have morphed into a progressive rock band) use a lot of acoustic interludes which could/can also inspire their fans to explore the acoustic side of guitar which leads, again, into the possibility of exploring Classical Guitar.

And don't forget singer/songwriter types like Ed Sheeran, Laura Marling and Jack Bugg who play acoustic or classical guitars. This introduces young people to acoustic guitar which, again, can lead to exploring other genres of guitar.

Much as I find the recent (?) trend for classical guitarists to bring out albums of Beatles and Queen music a bit trite (I've just heard Beatles songs one too many times...) , I applaud the idea of broadening the palette of the classical guitar.

So apologies (kind of) for the rant but I believe other styles of guitar, especially other 'acoustic' guitar, is an avenue into appreciating classical guitar and so embracing these other styles, wherever possible is, in my opinion, to be encourage.

Maybe it's been said before. Maybe not many of you agree, Maybe a lot of you do but my rants over now.
I'm off to program my music playlist on my laptop - Metallica followed by BB King followed by Ben Harper followed by Ida Presti followed by Paco De Lucia followed by Wes Montgomery followed by Iron Maiden followed by Funkadelic followed by Gordon Giltrap followed by Julian Bream followed by....

But to answer the original post - ...because the age of the Internet has watered down the promotion of all styles of music such that everything's getting lost although well-known players like Milos are keeping the publicity alive in the UK, at least. Maybe it's a double-edge sword - more information to wade through on the Interweb but much easier these days to view many, top classical guitar performances on the 'Tube etc.
I think your experience is a lot like my own, and many others. At least in the US, many of the classical guitarists I've known seem to have started with some other style of guitar playing, and discovered classical later. I was a metal guitarist who had to learn classical for my degree and I ended up falling in love with it, and I personally know at least a dozen career guitarists with the same story.

I also think that the scene is already headed in a more diverse direction because of the newer generation. Arrangements of popular music on CG are ubiquitous nowadays. It's also worth noting that for many of the standard repertoire CG composers were writing with themes that were contemporary for their time, so there's always been a bit of a modern trend on the instruments.

I think the issue is in finding a common ground with repertoire. Playing a CG arrangement of say, Lady Gaga, might entertain the public, but aficionados will turn their nose to it. On the other hand, no matter how beautiful Regondi is, the public usually won't catch onto CG repertoire.

Personally, I think the trick is to find pieces equally suited to either demographic. Either arrange pieces well known to the public but that are still well composed works (such as popular film scores), or treat popular themes in a well composed style (such as Takemitsu's Beatles arrangements, or a fugue on a Lady Gaga subject).
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Smudger5150 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:15 am

Hmmm...a fugue on a Lady Gaga subject. The general idea sounds interesting in that the real hard-nosed aficionados wouldn't generally know the source music anyway other than '...the melody sounds vaguely familiar...' where they might have heard it on the radio in the background without knowing it.
I have a book somewhere of Paul Simon music arranged for CG. Plus a book of Disney modern movie tunes too. All the tunes of which I've never heard so when I tried to play one or 2 in the past, they sounded quite fresh and interesting. Bit like me being the hard-nosed CG afiocionado who doesn't really listen to modern music.
I was also toying with using a riff from a Dream Theater song (although hardly popular music) as the basis for a potential piece of CG music. Although I've never composed before so that might be a long way off.

The whole topic of repertoire is cousin to some other threads I've seen where people have talked about getting a balance between playing what the public wants to hear (they well-known tunes) and more obscure or more modern pieces.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Jim Davidson » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:53 pm

Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:15 am
Hmmm...a fugue on a Lady Gaga subject. The general idea sounds interesting in that the real hard-nosed aficionados wouldn't generally know the source music anyway other than '...the melody sounds vaguely familiar...' where they might have heard it on the radio in the background without knowing it.
The Gaga fugue already exists! It was written by Giovanni Dettori. You can find it on youtube if you search "Lady Gaga Fugue". It was even played at the BBC Proms recently by Dejan Lazić.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by lagartija » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:17 pm

Jim Davidson wrote:
Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:53 pm
Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:15 am
Hmmm...a fugue on a Lady Gaga subject. The general idea sounds interesting in that the real hard-nosed aficionados wouldn't generally know the source music anyway other than '...the melody sounds vaguely familiar...' where they might have heard it on the radio in the background without knowing it.
The Gaga fugue already exists! It was written by Giovanni Dettori. You can find it on youtube if you search "Lady Gaga Fugue". It was even played at the BBC Proms recently by Dejan Lazić.
A fugue in three voices based on a Lady Gaga melody was played at the Hartt Guitar Festival by Scott Tennant, Chris Ladd and Richard Provost.
I did not know the tune, but the fugue was entertaining! :-)
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:48 pm

Flugelhornists and bassoonists are worse off...
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Francisco » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:56 pm

First, I don't think the guitar has it that bad compared with most other solo instruments, with the exception of piano. Lutes, harps and all kinds of other things make a wonderful sound when played solo well, and they are truly unknown and unheard by the vast majority of people. Many more people than the guitar.

The repertoire is indeed a bit of a problem in the sense that it tends to favor overwhelmingly some pieces to be played over and over, so it gets a little boring. What needs to be done is to present other pieces that are atractive. See for example Carles Trepat in this outstanding, magnificent concert recorded 3 years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luKquWe89jo

And take a look at his program, copied below. There are some pieces by the usual suspects, Sor, Bach, Granados, etc. But how often have you heard superb guitar arrangements of songs by Manuel López Quiroga or by Juan Mostazo. Even Julián Arcas music, how often is it played? And how about Consuelo Velázquez or Magín Alegre. It is wonderful music. How many had heard it before?

There IS untapped repertoire available, and there are things waiting to be arranged for classical guitar. What is lacking is competent guitarists willing to play them and charm people with them, as Trepat does.

FERNANDO SOR
Andante largo, op. 5 nº 5

MIGUEL GARCÍA (Padre Basilio)
Minueto (07:02)
Sonata de Elami (09:17)

J. S. BACH (Tr.: M. Llobet)
Sarabande (14:50)
Bourrée (18:49)
(de la Partita I BWV 1002 para violín)

JULIÁN ARCAS
Bolero (23:05)
Soleá (26:00)
---
ISAAC ALBÉNIZ
Capricho catalán (32:50)

ENRIQUE GRANADOS
La maja de Goya (36:43)
El mirar de la maja (42:22)

MANUEL LÓPEZ-QUIROGA
Dos zambras La Salvadora (46:10) Y sin embargo te quiero (49:44)

JUAN MOSTAZO
Los piconeros (Bulerías del siglo XVIII) (53:34)
---
CONSUELO VELÁZQUEZ
Amar y vivir (58:12)

MAGÍN ALEGRE
Americana (1:03:05)

POPULAR CATALANA
El cant dels ocells (1:07:17)
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by tubeman » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:01 pm

When I was still a high school English teacher, I'd play for my classes (usually some Bach), and I often heard, "I didn't know there was such a thing as classical guitar" or "I never thought you could play something like that on the guitar." It was so gratifying to play for 10th graders, then have them again in 12th grade and have someone sign my yearbook with "I'll never forget that Bach Fugue you played for us." He remembered what it was two years later!
A lack of exposure is the root of the problem.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Smudger5150 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:37 pm

I'm really glad I raised my voice now because now I can go and check out Carles Trepat and this Lady Gaga piece!
I must keep an eye on the BBC Proms a bit more often. Typically I seem to only catch the Last night which, I believe, tends to play all the favourites.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by Guitar-ded » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:42 pm

David_Norton wrote:
Sat Oct 08, 2016 1:27 pm
Because classical guitar is meant for the erudite sophisticates among society, and not the unwashed masses. It's a champagne, foie gras, and caviar sort of instrument. Not meant to be seen as on the same level as burgers, brats, and brewskies.

Excuse me now while go I have my Eggs Benedict and mimosa on the deck with Buffy, before heading off to the polo match.
Brilliant answer. Couldn't have put it better. :bravo:
FWIW, The Eggs Benedict should have smoked salmon, and rather than mimosas I'd stick with the unadulterated Dom. Still, each to his own.
I do miss polo though.
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Re: Why is Classical Guitar so Unknown?

Post by davekear » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:16 am

Although the classical guitar is not as "popular" as the electric guitar, (Hendrix, Clapton, etc.), it does have its niche. I can't tell you how many weddings I've played, or how many years I spent in a tuxedo in some of the fanciest restaurants around. If you're a decent classical guitarist, it's pretty easy to work and make a good living. (much easier than if you're in a band). And it doesn't hurt if you play a bunch of familiar pop tunes. As a matter of fact if you want to make good tips, it's a necessity. And another nice thing, for those who have not been exposed to the classical guitar, when they hear it played well, especially playing the songs they love, it's a very magical experience for them.

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