When the subject of which guitar style to study has come up have you ever found yourself thinking the following?
"Classical guitar - Oh that's not for me, Classical music's not my thing"
"That's all notated music right... I'm not a reader."
"It's all Spanish and Flamenco stuff - repertoire from composers long gone..."
These are some of the typical responses I've come across, below though are my thoughts on the instrument and why you should
consider taking it up.
Classic/Classical guitar is a term used to describe the form of it - its design, materials and construction as well as many of the techniques that allow players to express themselves on the instrument. True, it does cover some of the repertoire for it. Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi to name a few are transcribed for 6 strings - 3 of which are nylon. But there's nothing wrong with that, many of their works sound amazing when played on the guitar.
In its relatively short life composers and players have brought elements of Spanish and Latin folk music to it - as well as Jazz, Bebop, Blues and World music. If you can name it - it can and has been played on the 'classic' guitar, just check out the work of Carlo Domeniconi, Leo Brouwer or Richard Charlton.
To separate music and instrument and associate yourself with only one type of music making makes no sense - music is music whatever means is used to make it.
Okay but what is it and should I learn to play it?
To me the classical guitaris a 6 stringed guitar featuring 3 nylon strings, which help give it its characteristic sound. It has a form which has not changed considerably since its inception, but - just as with all things change does occur even if its not immediately obvious.
As a style of music making it incorporates World music, influenced not only by consumable music but also Jazz, Blues, Rock, Metal, Latin and all things in-between. The repertoire includes music from composers long gone to those alive and creating today.
Yes Classical music is available to study and play, and yes much of it is in notated form, however there isn't a rule that says that you have to study just the classics and reading music, well its a great skill that opens many doors so why not give it a chance. There are alternatives if you don't get on with it...
Personally I have learnt so many techniques that transfer to other guitar styles, benefitted greatly from playing the diverse repertoire for this instrument and learning about and from its great practitioners. Although I have played Classical guitar for a long time, I have only scratched the surface and am still excited by the possibilities in terms of repertoire and technique. Examples of my playing can be found here
, they are from some time ago and hopefully when time allows I will be able to post more recent pieces.
There is more to the classic guitar than the name suggests and I would encourage anyone thinking of taking up the guitar to maintain an open mind, let go of preconceptions and embrace this wonderful member of the guitar family.