Towards Overcoming the Guitar’s Color Research Gap


Most  (classical)  guitar  music  comes  from  guitarist-composers.  Yet  according  to  guitarists who collaborate with composers, color research on this instrument is better achieved by those who do not  play  the  instrument.  Thus  the  guitar  lags  behind  many  instruments  in  regard  to  color  research. Various reasons can be faulted for the tendency of non-guitarist composers to avoid the instrument. Examples of such reasons may be: the difficulty to write for the instrument, and its weak projection and  lack  of  sustain,  all  of  which  are  intrinsic  to  the  guitar.  This  is,  however,  not  the  case  of  the paradigmatic  sound  for  which  the  instrument  is  also  dismissed,  which  is  rather  the  legacy  of  the conservative  guitarist  Andrés  Segovia,  who  was  one  of  the  main  promoters  of  the  guitar  in  the twentieth  century.

When  composers  dismiss  the  guitar  for  being  difficult  to  write  for,  collaboration with  guitarists  has  proven  fruitful.  Given  that  Segovia’s  conservatism  still  prevails  among  many guitarists,  if  the  sonorous  possibilities  of  the  instrument  are  to  be  expanded,  it  is  essential  that  the guitarist is adventurous and has a good arsenal of techniques. New color-research results could entice composers dismissing the guitar for its limitations or its paradigmatic sound to reconsider composing for the instrument. The amplification of sounds with low intensity can be a useful tool to obtain new colors. However, sounds arising from conventional instruments require some caution. It is important to introduce novelty in order to avoid connotation with their respective non-amplified instrument. The technique of multiphonics, which produces sounds of unusual colors, is believed to be a suitable tool when the guitar is amplified with close microphone placement. Through making audible the sounds’ components  of  a  lower  intensity,  this  situation  would  reveal  to  the  audience  colors  otherwise  only heard by the guitarist.

Rita Torres / Paulo Ferreira-Lopes

Towards Overcoming the Guitar’s Color Research Gap



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