Christopher Parkening on Segovia

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Ramon Amira
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Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by Ramon Amira » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:11 am

I suspect this has already been posted, but just in case it hasn't - here it is.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvqitrUbVNk
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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by Philosopherguy » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:22 am

Excellent video from Christopher Parkening. Thank you for pointing it out Ramon. I agree with so much of what he said. A good point is that the modern guitar is trying to become more of a substitute for the piano. I too prefer the idea of the romantic old world sound of the guitar.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:53 am

I saw the video a while back. Parkening is not so well known in the UK, in fact I only heard him for the first time recently, and I'm 57 years old. I do remember being a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama at a time when there seemed this great rush to get the guitar as close to a piano sound as possible. It was in the teaching, in the magazines, luthiers were going for a more even sound across the range, with less warmth but more clarity. I got sucked up into that, especially in my arranging of Albeniz and others. Eventually I found myself listening less to guitar players, which was OK as I was still into music, but inevitably I began to lose touch with what attracted me to the instrument in the first place. I eventually gave up, and spent twenty years as a lute player.

When I returned to the guitar, the world had changed, especially luthiery, with nomex, double tops, etc. Lute playing had given me an appreciation of tone over volume, and the touch of flesh on the string. I also returned to the sound and playing of what had attracted me to the classical guitar decades before. Now I'm playing guitars based on Torres and Manuel Ramirez, with gut and silk strings, no nails, playing arrangements and compositions that were never aimed at that piano sound, but which aimed to reveal the beautiful intimacy of the guitar.

Yesterday I watched that film of Segovia at Los Olivos, his home near Granada. When he played two pieces by Bach, a sarabande and a gavotte from different suites, I suddenly realised I had a big grin on my face. It was so beautiful. Through 20 years of lute playing and for at least five years before that as a guitarist, I hadn't smiled that much at a Bach performance. Here was someone saying: I am playing a guitar, not a lute or a piano, but a guitar, and this is what it can do.

So, I feel I've come full circle, back to the source. But I don't imitate Segovia, or anyone else, at least I'm not aware of doing so. But I know that there is something Segovia was tapped into, a deep well, that I'm trying to drink from as well. Thankfully I am not alone!

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by oc chuck » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:06 pm

Now I'm playing guitars based on Torres and Manuel Ramirez, with gut and silk strings, no nails, playing arrangements and compositions that were never aimed at that piano sound, but which aimedhaveto reveal the beautiful intimacy of the guitar. -- RobMacKillop

The modern guitar is trying to become more of a substitute for the piano. I too prefer the idea of the romantic old world sound of the guitar.
--Philosopherguy

Ditto and Ditto --- I have a Torres style spruce/cypress classical with rectified trebles.
It has a beautiful and expressive tone.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by Adam » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:49 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:So, I feel I've come full circle, back to the source. But I don't imitate Segovia, or anyone else, at least I'm not aware of doing so. But I know that there is something Segovia was tapped into, a deep well, that I'm trying to drink from as well. Thankfully I am not alone!
Great post, well said Rob.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:19 am

Cheers.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by DevonBadger » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:08 pm

I hadn't seen the Los Olivos film before, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Would you be able to explain a bit more about the 'piano sound'? I think I know what you mean, it's just that to my mind the piano can also be warm, expressive and romantic.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by riffmeister » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:35 pm

Adam wrote:
RobMacKillop wrote:So, I feel I've come full circle, back to the source. But I don't imitate Segovia, or anyone else, at least I'm not aware of doing so. But I know that there is something Segovia was tapped into, a deep well, that I'm trying to drink from as well. Thankfully I am not alone!
Great post, well said Rob.
I agree, great post, Rob.

I totally "get" the new directions in which the guitar and guitar music have gone, it's actually a good thing that boundaries are pushed, new avenues are explored. It's part of what we do as a species. :D But those endeavors serve to further illuminate the beautiful aspects of the "old school" approaches to guitar-making and guitar music-making, principles to which I am fully subscribed.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:17 pm

Good post, riffmeister.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by DevonBadger » Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:59 am

RobMacKillop wrote: Yesterday I watched that film of Segovia at Los Olivos, his home near Granada. When he played two pieces by Bach, a sarabande and a gavotte from different suites, I suddenly realised I had a big grin on my face. It was so beautiful. Through 20 years of lute playing and for at least five years before that as a guitarist, I hadn't smiled that much at a Bach performance. Here was someone saying: I am playing a guitar, not a lute or a piano, but a guitar, and this is what it can do.
I realise Antonio Lauro is quite different to Bach but this video of Alirio Diaz never fails to put a smile on my face. Definitely not a piano sound!

There may be more refined and technically precise guitarists but for sheer vitality and personality this is hard to beat. Like a shot of vitamins into the bloodstream!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJhjhBChdQ0

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Wed Nov 23, 2016 12:24 pm

One of my favourite guitar players. Joy and happiness run through his playing. Sunshine. A reminder that he lived in the warm South, while I live in the cold North!

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by kertsopoulos » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:53 pm

Even back to Aguado and Sor, the two friends were testing themselves and arguing on nails or no nails for the production of satisfactory tone. The gut strings at the lute era were cat gut strings and had a very synthesized process of drying, hanging from the ceiling with specific weights, stabilization, uniformity and in the end process when strung on the lute they had specific wound processing to undergo very specific for each string. A luthier would teach his students the technique of playing but would never say a word about the technique of stringing. Each and everyone had to find their own way in the complex world of stringing eventually the lute. The luthiers of that "lute era" did not use nails because a successfully stringed lute with cat gut strings would have an exceptionally bright sound, even brighter than today's nylon strings. The same was true for the time of Aguado and Sor for their cat gut stringed guitars. So the use of nails would produce a very harsh sound due to the brightness of the strings while the no nails flesh would add to the bright sound a desirable warmth and roundness and produce a more balanced sound. If we do not take in account these peculiarities of the stringing process we do not make a good analysis and synthesis of the subject dealing with tone production. For instance, many guitarists think that gut strings of the lute era sounded dull compared with today's nylon strings which is not correct. Those cat gut strings of the lute era where much brighter than nylon strings and even much brighter than the modern gut strings. The reason being that they were customized in the cultivating process by the performer and also wound on the lute itself by the performer at desired winding specifications. Today's gut strings are fabricated and sent to the performer in an envelope ready to be strung with no winding by the performer on the instrument as such. Even when Segovia in 1948 introduced the nylon strings of A.Augustine many guitarists were at the begining complaining that Segovia lost his bright gut sound and now his sound with nylon strings lost its brightness. Barrios and Villa-Lobos were playing with metal strings to produce more brightness even from the gut strings. For more info. on lute stringing of the "lute era" one can refer to E.G.Baron who decided to write about the construction of the lute and also the stringing practices contrary to the epoque's secrecy on all these subjects and eventually met the discomfort and the war against him from all the professionals of the time. Of course, he left a very valuable book for all the ages that came after revealing a lot of very useful information.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:01 pm

No one ever put cat gut on a lute. Cats do not make good lute strings. Sheep and Bulls have been used. The confusion over cats arises from the fact that many strings were imported from Catline in Italy.

I'd like to know how you know for certain that gut used by lute players in the 16th century differs significantly from gut used by lute players today, whether it arrives in a packet or not. I buy mine in twelve-foot lengths.

Another thing: nails were DEFINITELY used in the seventeenth century, and probably earlier.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by kertsopoulos » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:23 pm

Dear Mr. Rob Mac Killop, my respects, I enjoy and respect very much your musicianship, which I find exceptional and inspiring for all of us. In regard to your comments concerning my post, thank you very much for your kindness to point out a few important issues. Catline Italy is the generic of the word cat of course. Lute players of the "lute era" wounded the strings with specific techniques on their lute known only to themselves (secrecy problems). Today's stringing techniques of the gut differ very much because these techniques are not used today and they were never passed on through tradition (secrecy problems). I agree with you that nails were definetely used in the seventeenth century and probably earlier, I never said the opposite.

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Re: Christopher Parkening on Segovia

Post by RobMacKillop » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:50 pm

Dear kertsopoulos, I'm sorry if my earlier post sounded a bit terse (as it does to me re-reading it). I was in a hurry. I had to make my wife's evening meal, getting it ready for her return from work. Modern times :-) In short, I didn't mean to appear rude, and apologise if I came over that way.

I'm still a little unsure how you know things were different, especially when you say they were secret. As for tradition, gut strings were made continuously until recent times, and gut guitar trebles have survived from the early 20th century. They do not seem very different (I'm told) to what is being produced today. There are real problems, though, over gut strings in the bass registers of lutes, and Mimmo Perufo is doing his best to uncover what techniques were used in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. But those strings were not used by guitarists, so need not concern us here.

But your general point, that gut strings were bright, has some truth to it. But I'd like to say warm and bright at the same time. Of course, the guitar and the player make a significant contribution to the overall sound. All the modern gut strings I have played have had differences in touch and sound, so it's difficult for us to talk about one gut string, as if they were all the same. It's the same as with nylon strings - some are brighter, some mellower.

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