"Homage To The Romantic Spanish Guitar"

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
RobMacKillop
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Location: Edinburgh

"Homage To The Romantic Spanish Guitar"

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:54 pm

Welcome, folks, to my Delcamp blog, detailing my preparation for and progress in recording an album of Catalan pieces on my c.1870/80 Spanish guitar ostensibly by Antonio Carols Garcia. This blog thread should last a few months, and I'll update it when I have something worth sharing.

When I was in my 20's, I came home one day to my small cottage on a farm in Scotland, only to find that the place had been flooding water all weekend while I was away. Everything was ruined, and my guitar came floating towards me as I stood there aghast. At the same time, the postman arrived with my social-security cheque - this was when everyone I knew was unemployed. The upside is that I could play guitar ten hours a day!

I grabbed my guitar, cashed the cheque at the post office, and hitch-hiked to Spain!

My first port of call was to a friend who lived outside of Barcelona, somewhere in the hills, but I soon found out he was involved in a drug gang, so I left. I went to Barcelona, sat down outside the old cathedral, and started to play. People started giving me money. My repertoire was the Catalan arrangements of Llobet, and lots of Tárrega. I hasten to add I was self-taught at this point. I slept rough some nights, but if it had been a good day financially-speaking, I could pay for a room in a rundown pension.

After a while I made some local friends, and one of them wrote me a sign in Catalan, saying I was from Scotland, loved Catalan music, and was hungry - all of which was true. I started getting a lot more money, and there were fewer nights spent sleeping outside. Old women would sit and talk to me, even though I couldn't speak a word of their language, but their kindness made a lasting impression on me.

For many years I wanted to record an album of Catalan music, but never felt it was the right time. This year I will turn 60 years old, so I was thinking I had better get on with it! Then this new old guitar came into my life, which I introduced to you in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=125962 which many of you will have read. Perfect timing. Although it was not made in Cataluña, it was made "next door" in Valencia, which is good enough for me.

So, in creating this blog, I hope to keep on track over the coming months, and hope to have the album available for download by the end of summer, if not sooner. I will write about the repertoire and my experiences of playing it, and hope you enjoy reading my posts. Comments throughout will be welcome.

The album will be called "Homage To Cataluña".
Last edited by RobMacKillop on Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Bernhard Heimann
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Location: Augsburg, Germany

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by Bernhard Heimann » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:14 pm

Hi Rob,

thank you for your personal story. I'm eagerly looking forward to your blog.

Bernhard

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David Norton
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Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by David Norton » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:35 pm

Great project, and an interesting back-story. I didn't realize that you and I are both "Class of 1959". :)
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

RobMacKillop
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:58 pm

The Best class, David :-)

Cheers, Bernhard.

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tateharmann
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Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by tateharmann » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:09 am

Sorry to do this guys...my wife tells me not to but I can't help it lol. My DAD is also from '59

Hehehehee - sorry!

Looking forward to this thread ;)
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

Ricflair
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Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:01 pm

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by Ricflair » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:47 am

Great story! I look forward to your recording. Is there a way we can help fund it? Kickstarter, etc...?
Graduate of Trump University School of Music.

RobMacKillop
Posts: 3713
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:52 am

Tate - you are banned from this thread! ;-)

Ricflair - I highly appreciate your comment. I have a GoFundMe page (which I'm probably not allowed to give a link to) It has a rather odd name: support-rob039s-music the 039 part is what their computer puts in place of a comma. I didn't realise this until it was too late.

And I also have a Patreon page under RobMacKillop.

Both these go towards funding my researches, recordings, websites, videos, etc, which seem eternally to be non-profit making. All money received goes directly to supporting my projects.

Wuuthrad
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Location: USA

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by Wuuthrad » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:20 am

:bravo:

:merci:
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

RobMacKillop
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:45 am

UPDATE.

I got off to a good start last night, recording five tracks, four of which I like, the fifth has been binned. The good tracks are:

Endecha y Oremus by Tárrega
Plany, El Testament de n'Amèlia, and Cançó del Lladre - three Catalan pieces arranged by Llobet

I've know these pieces for decades, and love them as much now as I have ever done.

Plany - this dirge-like tune and arrangement was published two years after a choral version became popular, with words by Jaume Massó i Torrents, "lamenting the loss of Catalonia's ancient right to autonomous government" (according to Stefano Grondona's excellent essay introduction to his essential Chanterelle edition). So, it seems quite topical...Politics aside, this is an incredible arrangement from the merely 21-year old Llobet. Although not as popular as other arrangements he made of Catalan songs, it is one of my favourites. Llobet clearly aligned himself with the modernist movements that were stirring the region at that time.

El Testament de n'Amèlia - I've given the Catalan spelling that Llobet used. Language became a political weapon at the time, with the Catalan dictionary - the català normativo, standard Catalan - being created shortly after. The song of course concerns the tragic tale of a girl poisoned by her stepmother, who in turn was in love with the girl's husband.

Cançó del Lladre - Most of us will know this arrangement well, and that it concerns the autobiographical song of the life of a bandit, more usually translated as The Theif's Song. It is classic Llobet in its use of harmonic sections between soaring melodic lines, and a reflective coda.

Endecha y Oremus - two for the price of one here. It's not clear if Tárrega intended them to be performed together, but I take a chance and play them in ABA form, as the melody of Endecha is too beautiful to hear only once! Oremus - it is well documented - is an arranged snippet from Robert Schumann's Phatasietanz No.5 in Em, opus 124, though few guitarists (myself included) feel the need to play it anywhere near as fast as pianists do. Pujol informs us (if I remember correctly) that Endecha was one of Tárrega's final compositions - most certainly composed during his no-nails phase.

I would add an extract from one of the files if I could figure out how to do it. I clicked the Attachments tab, but it doesn't seem to allow mp3 files.

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tateharmann
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Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by tateharmann » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:01 pm

Awesome! Maybe this isn't the place for this question but did that last tuning button swell up enough?

Oh wait - I'm banned from this thread...sorry lol.
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

RobMacKillop
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:05 pm

Haven't done it yet. Maybe tonight. Very busy.

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tateharmann
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Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by tateharmann » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:02 pm

Cool cool cool :)
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

RobMacKillop
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:54 pm

UPDATE:

Three more tracks recorded, all by Jaime or Jaques Bosch: Duettino, Venise, Venecia - and all with the 6th at D and the 5th at G.

Bosch was a contemporary of Coste, was still around when Tárrega became active, and although born in Barcelona he lived much of his life in Paris, where he was friends with Manet the painter, Gounod (with whom he collaborated on a piece), and other luminaries of the Parisian scene. He rode the Parisian wave of Spanish populism of the time, and his works are imbued with French and Spanish flavours, an often successful blend. He had a singular, if quirky, voice, and his works deserve to be played more often by students and concert performers. I recently recorded the same three pieces on video, but with a different guitar.

Now to the pros and cons of home recording. Regular viewers of my videos will be acquainted with the family of birds who have taken up residence in a bush outside my window. Their calls can be heard at the most inopportune moments in my performances, but generally their presence is tolerated. Not so when it comes to recording an album. However, they do fall silent around 9pm. My wife takes that hour to go to her room to do some work, but returns at 10pm for the evening news. All well and good, as all I need is an hour, having practised the piece(s) a number of times during the day, between visits from three or four students.

So, I quickly set up my recording equipment, wash my hands in hot water - as hot as I can stand it - tune my guitar, then hit the record button. It usually takes me five to ten minutes of tuning and fumbling through tricky bits before I get anything worth preserving. I record each piece twice, sometimes more if things are not going well, but I never go beyond four takes, because if it hasn't worked by then, it's not likely to. I prefer a single take, but, being human, sometimes I don't quite hit a note dead centre, so to speak. In such instances - and there might be three or four in the course of a piece - I repeat the bar or phrase, sometimes without stopping. It's technically easy to edit the sound file to remove a bar/measure than to record a "drop in" later. In other words, I prefer on-the-job self editing, which means the listener still hears a "live" single performance - same tuning, same tempo, same feel. The result might not be 100% technically perfect, but it should have the positive value of a live performance. For better or worse, that's the way I work.

I hope to record Lagrima and Marietta (by Tárrega) tonight, but it is blawin a hoolie (a strong wind) outside, so I might have to wait a day or two. But I much prefer this way of working over a cold, dead studio, or a church somewhere out in the country. I once recorded in the famous Roslyn Chapel, but was assailed by owls, barking dogs, wind and rain, and the flight path to Edinburgh airport! Hardly conducive to sustained focus for two or three days' time.

Work is progressing...

astro64
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Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:43 pm
Location: American Southwest

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by astro64 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:16 pm

Looks like you have to get the recording done before the change to daylight savings time when the birds might not quiet down until the 10pm news....
We already change next weekend here in the US. Where I live there is no reason at all to do this, if you ask me.

RobMacKillop
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: "Homage To Cataluña"

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:25 pm

Ha, we will work something out. I'm happy to record after 11. This area is really quiet by then.

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