If you could master the technique of any guitarist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Imagine for a moment, closing your eyes, strumming that first note, and when you open them, you have the impeccable technique of one of the world's most iconic guitarists. A thrilling thought, isn't it?
This week, let's ponder on this very dream: If you could master the technique of any guitarist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Would you dive into the soulful touch of Segovia, the infinite color palette of Julian Bream? Perhaps the perfect tremolo of David Russel? Or would you choose to resonate with Paco de Lucía's flamenco mastery?
Share with the community:
What draws you to this particular guitarist's technique? Are there specific videos or performances that encapsulate their prowess for you? How do you think adopting their technique would influence your own musical journey?
Remember, it's not just about skill, but the emotion, the legacy, and the story behind each string maestro that makes them unforgettable.
Can't wait to hear whose guitar genius you'd like to embody for a day!
I definitely go for Julian Beam, his tone, his interpretations, all of it. I heard him twice in Norway in the 1970ies and in 1982 and it was wonderful. But the concert that really blew me away was one by David Russel in a church in Fredrikstad in Norway at a guitar festival in 1989. He played Handel and also Koyonbaba. I have not heard Koyonbaba before and his playing then was breathtaking. Also his Händel played then on his John Gilbert guitar. I will never forget it. Per, Norway.
Sooo difficult to pick just one. I guess my early influences were Bream & Williams - I saw them play together as well as solists several times. I also saw Segovia play which was so inspiring. I now often find myself turning to David Russell as a benchmark for pieces I'm learning, but I also love listening to Berta Rojas's interpretations. And let me not forget Andrew York. I've followed his career and recordings from his very early days and met him on his first visit to the UK many years ago ... the more I think the longer the list gets!!
There have been many good replies to this question so far. For myself, and without question, it would be the great Czech guitarist/composer Stepan Rak. I have, in fact, been trying to master many of his techniques for a number years, with some success but a lot more frustration. What immediately drew me to his playing was his ability to do it all, and with complete freedom in both hands, i.e. fast scales, rippling arpeggios, three finger and four finger (using the fourth or "pinky ") tremolo, double tremolo, multi-string tremolo, thumb tremolo while the fingers play chords, and more. All this done effortlessly and flawlessly utilizing the full dynamic range of the guitar, from a whisper-quiet pianissimo (sometimes achieved by brushing the strings with the side of the fingers) to a massive fortissimo with his tremolo/rasguado, all the while expressing a wide range of emotions.
In his three volume biography of Franz Liszt, Alan Walker commented that Liszt had achieved such mastery over his instrument by "internalizing the keyboard". This perfectly describes Rak's mastery of the fretboard; it's as if he and his guitar have become one entity. As Stanley Yates wrote "Rak has extended our conception of what is possible on the guitar".
I have been fortunate enough to have heard him several times in a formal concert setting, and also in an informal setting. During his first Toronto appearance many years ago, Rak stayed in my house for several days, allowing me the opportunity to hear and observe his playing from only a few feet away. He will often improvise, and many of his compositions develop from these improvisations, which was often the case for composers in the past.
A short example of his brilliant tremolo/rasguado technique can be heard in his performance of "Scottish Bagpipe Tea" which can be found on Youtube. A couple of longer works worth listening to are Elegy (Hommage to Sibelius) in which he makes extensive use of his "double tremolo", and "Hiroshima", a highly descriptive piece that contains no "normal" guitar sounds but never fails to elicit an enthusiastic response from the audience.
When I first heard Rak, he was forty and at the peak of his powers; now he is in his late seventies but still performing. Well known in Europe he is largely unknown (or ignored?) by guitarists in North America, although Matt Palmer does a fine interpretation of his very demanding "Sonata Mongoliana". (found on Youtube)
I hope my post has piqued the interest of a few guitarists reading this enough to explore Rak's playing and compositions.