I must apologise for not posting anything for so long. Arthritis in my left hand flared up again and started affecting my right hand. I had my hands x-rayed and confirmed that the disease had eaten away the cartilage of the joints of several fingers. As a result, I am only able to play for very short periods once or twice a week, and that only with the aid of a prescription anti-inflammatory. All this rather took the wind out of my sails and this site has suffered as a result. However, I will be keeping up the server fees for the time being in the hopes that the material will help keen amateur classical guitarists.
Just before my hands started giving me so much trouble, I came across Alex Tisboulski playing four pieces. What a talented guitarist! So, HERE is the link to the GSI Blog featuring Alex and his playing. Enjoy and be inspired!
I met Rynier Prins when he bought an imported guitar from me for one of his students. When he was trying out the instrument he also had a look at the best of the four guitars I had brought into the country – a beautiful Yulong Guo Handmade A-Echoes Double Top Classic Guitar. A while later he returned to put it through its paces and I could see right away that he and the guitar were well suited. After serious and protracted deliberations Rynier decided to buy it and I said goodbye to both of them.
A short while ago Rynier recorded Fernando Sor’s Andante from Sor’s Mes Ennuis – the 5th of 6 Bagatelles op.43 in his home studio, performing on the Yulog Gou. I already knew that he was an excellent musician, but it was only when I heard this performance that I realised that he is more than excellent and that the guitar is just right for him.
So, it gives me pleasure to feature this rendition of the Sor piece here on Classical Guitar SA. Bravo Reynier.
In August 2017 I wrote an article titled ‘Humidity and your classical guitar’, and ever since then, I have been recording local humidity levels. In a previous article, I explained the system and mix I use for in-case humidity control. In this article, I want to give some feedback on the readings I have taken.
I did not record humidity levels every day, but only when there was a meaningful movement from the norm. I live in the Johannesburg area of South Africa and the general average humidity here is 60%. The average highs are 70% for 3 months of the year, and the average lows are 45% for another 3 months. However, from time to time the conditions change dramatically to averages of more than 70% or less than 25% for a week or so at a time.
During the last 2 years, I have recorded 241 humidity readings and these reveal the following:
61 readings were 65% or more of which the highest was 81%. 48 readings were 25% or less and the lowest of these was 10%. However, and this is an important ‘however’, the highest in-case reading was 62% and the lowest was 41%. So, although the average in-case humidity of my guitars was 51% compared to an external average of 47%, my instruments were protected from protracted levels of over 65% or under 25%. When the external humidity was 81%, the in-case humidity was 62%, a 19% difference. When the external level was 10%, the in-case level was 41%, a massive 31% difference.
Another major benefit of in-case humidity control has been that the levels the guitars have to deal with change very slowly compared to sudden and drastic external changes. A sudden drop to 10% can cause a hand-made guitar to crack and a sustained level of 80% plus can loosen the seams and frets, change the fret-board inclination, and make the instrument sound soggy and buzzy.
So, there you have it. Even in a moderate climate such as Johannesburg, in-case humidification is definitely needed.
This is a lovely little piece for classical guitar graded at Level 3 – Transitional. The guitarist in the video is Sandrine Luigi and the score was originally downloaded from ‘Dirk´s Guitar Page’ although I obtained it from Scribd.
I can’t find any information on this composer except that he was born in 1941 in France and came first in a prestigious classical guitar competition at the age of 21. One reference lists him as having died in 2011 but this may not be the case.
Every week I search the internet for material that could instruct, inform or inspire intermediate level classical guitarist like myself.
It is getting harder and harder to find material that I haven’t already included in my site content at some time or another. My main sources have dried up considerably of late, but I guess that folk like Simon Powis and Bradford Werner are so well known that most amateur players subscribe directly to their sites and don’t need me to curate their material.
In my search this week I rediscovered classicalsuitar.org and although it appears to have been dormant since 2018, its content remains useful. In 2009 Christopher Davis wrote a post entitled 21 Tips for Better Guitar Playing. Most, if not all 21 ideas are covered, often in more detail, by other bloggers and teachers, but it is handy to have them all together in one concise form. So, it’s worth reading through his list at https://www.classicalguitar.org/2009/11/21-tips-for-better-guitar-playing/ and then spending some time viewing his other offerings. Thank you Chris.
ClassicFM recently interviewed Mios Karadaglic and asked him to speak about his five all-time favourite guitar pieces. They are Astorias, Concerto de Aranjuez, Koyunbaba, Lute Suite No 2 in C min, and Blackbird (not realy a classical guitar piece).
Three of the five are very well known, but Koyunbaba by Domeniconi and Blackbird by the Beatles may be less familiar to many. Here they are played by Milos himself.
Some time ago, I came across this article on Classical Guitar Corner on Spot Practice that I found very helpful. Dave describes Spot Practice as:
‘Spot practice is a lot like slow practice, but with one important difference: while slow practice reduces the tempo to give your fingers more time to make the movements they need to make and to identify problems you couldn’t notice when playing at faster tempos, spot practice removes tempo as a factor altogether.
Here’s how spot practice works: when you get to a tricky spot in a passage (something slow practice should have helped you identify as a trouble passage!) we want to STOP. Completely pause right at, say, that difficult left-hand shift. Then take it step by step, without the tempo: (1) Determine exactly the movements your fingers need to make to get from where they are to where they need to go; (2) Begin to prepare your fingers over the strings they are going to go; (3) Shift positions and carefully and in a relaxed manner place your fingers to land the shift; (4) Repeat. That’s it! The point here is to give your fingers the time they need to make that shift accurately’.
To read the full article on Spot Practice and view the video, just click HERE
Xuefei Yang plays Xodó da Baiana by Dilermando Reis. The video was made for the Starface TV documentary show on Phoenix TV, for the episode featuring Xuefei. She is playing a Greg Smallman guitar.
Xuefei is an extraordinarily talented classical guitarist. Watching her video performances, I am always taken by her dexterity and apparently effortless fluidity, even in the fastest of movements.
According to her official biography, ‘Xuefei was the first-ever guitarist in China to enter a music school, & became the first internationally recognised Chinese guitarist on the world stage. Her first public appearance was at the age of ten and received such acclaim that the Spanish Ambassador in China presented her with a concert guitar. Her debut in Madrid at the age of 14 was attended by the composer Joaquín Rodrigo and, when John Williams heard her play, he gave two of his own instruments to Beijing’s Central Conservatoire especially for her and other advanced students.’
Here she plays Cavatina at the BBC Proms In The Park 2018 on Titanic Slipways , Belfast, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.