Old notes 1

May 11th, 2021

First installment of random notes penned a while back, finally seeing the light of day.


One of the recent developments in guitar has been this movement to sanitize it. And so new codes of ‘clean playing’ have been drawn up. Certain tone colors are declared verboten.

The end result of this has been an increasing tendency towards limpid playing—endless soft mellow strumming on strings which gives new meaning to the word ‘monotone.’

I ask myself in the face of all these innovations and ‘refinements’ – Where is the passion? Where is the fire? Where is the energy? Is music only meant to sound this way—clean, sanitized, mellow?

If this is progress, I would rather remain in the dark ages where music is supposed to say something, where passion and fire is synonymous with the guitar. One note from Segovia is worth more than all the notes from these ‘born again’ exponents of the sanitized guitar put together.

A personal aside—It has become fashionable in some quarters to attack Segovia and his legacy as idiosyncratic and antiquated.

My own philosophy has always been—here’s a guy who single-handedly resurrected an obsolete instrument, put it on the concert map, established an entire generation of great players and played into his nineties.

Is there any one who can claim to have accomplished half as much?

Rather than criticize him, perhaps we should stand back and try to understand not just why he was such a phenomenon, but how he developed such a fluid and effortless technique.


—May 11, 2003

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