Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is There A Difference?

Question: What's the difference between a strawberry and a raspberry? Answer: Both are berries, yes, but with different appearances and taste. So you wouldn't call a strawberry a raspberry, right?
That is the same with solo guitar music. Guitar music has normally been broken down into "musical" categories such as classical, flamenco, jazz, pop, country, folk, gypsy, heavy-metal, and now some wise-guy has come up with the word "fingerstyle", which musically means nothing except playing the guitar in a solo fashion using the fingers instead of a plectrum. Although it generally applies to steel-string guitar players who have evolved out of the New Age, New Acoustic music genre, it is sometimes used where it does not fit at all. Unfortunately over the last few years this category has often been applied to my music. This is completely wrong and I want to set the record straight why it is wrong.
To start with I studied classical guitar and I use the classical guitar technic in my playing and in my composing. At least 90% of the music I have written is intended for the classical guitar repertoire. My compositions are played and have been recorded by classical guitarists around the world and many of my compositions are included in classical guitar competitions as part of the contemporary repertoire for classical guitar.  This all started many years ago and I am very happy and proud of the fact my music was accepted by the classical guitar world for which it was intended.  It was something I hoped would happen but one never knows if it will happen.  Now a couple more details "about" my music...  
My compositions are completely classical in their construction using several harmonic voices, counterpoint, and bass lines. There are no happen chance notes, and they are composed from beginning to end with a melody that you can sing as in any classical piece of music. And another important point is my compositions are designed around the tonal qualities of the classical nylon string guitar and the technical possibilities of this instrument and not just "any" six-string guitar.
Although my compositions are sometimes attempted by steel-string fingerstyle players they usually run into technical problems to play them the way they are written. My pieces are for the most part technically difficult to play well even for a classical guitarist, but the fact that the steel-string guitar has a narrower neck makes many portions next to impossible. Unfortunately I have rarely heard one of my pieces played "well" on a steel-string guitar. At the same time I'm happy that fingerstyle guitar enthusiasts enjoy my music and want to play it on their steel-string guitars, but I feel it just doesn't work that well because it was written for another instrument. Also the pieces themselves do not come across musically as well as they would on a classical guitar.
Maybe another point I should make here is that my published books of solo guitar compositions were originally to be found ONLY in standard musical notation. There was no TAB included because classical guitarists can all read music and that was my intended audience. Over the years, and after many requests from fingerstyle guitar players who generally do not read music, I decided to include TAB for their benefit. The TAB however does not make the pieces any easier to play. Many seem to think that ..."if only it was in TAB then I could play it." Unfortunately, from what I have heard over the years this hasn't been the case.

Some might be asking themselves why I bother with trying to correct what I see as a false categorisation of my music. The reason is quite simple. As a composer for classical guitar I want to see in the future that my music lands with those that should be playing it. Unfortunately this new term "fingerstyle", and the music generally connected with this category, is usually of little interest to the classical guitarist as music for his repertoire. When I read or see my music sometimes being labelled fingerstyle, and knowing some of the consequences of this labeling, I think it only right to stand up and clarify the situation before it goes too far. In other words, you wouldn't call a strawberry a raspberry because you know the difference. So please don't call a classical guitar composition a fingerstyle piece. Both categories have legitimacy and neither should be seen or thought of as better than the other, only the differences should be recognized and respected.

Thank you and have fun playing and practicing! ; -)) dq

Monday, February 21, 2011


I've decided to join the ranks of the blogging world as a chance to express opinions about solo guitar playing and solo guitar music, as well as different ideas that may pop up from time to time.  This blog will also give me a chance to clear up some misconceptions about my own music.    Sometimes my comments may rub a few people in the wrong direction, but that can't be helped, and I will say here I don't mind ruffling feathers when I feel it could be useful and anything else would be boring.  So I'm looking forward to walking down a new path of opportunity to express myself on topics I find interesting and maybe you do too.  Join me if you have time.  Ciao for now, dq