The study and interpretation of ‘fixed music’ remains the predominant mode of practice for most classical guitarists. Despite this, an emerging body of literature highlighting the historical significance of improvisation in guiding developments in performance practice and composition beckons a reinterpretation of prior methods and practices and offers conceptual guidance for a contemporary re-imagining of this neglected art form. In building on this research, I have examined the process, methodology and practice of solo guitar improvisation and outlined a personal method developed from an amalgam of experimental and historically informed practices. In conceptualizing my approach I have reengaged with the classical guitars performative lineage, examining methods and practices whose origins date back to the seventeenth-century Spanish Baroque guitar methods of Francisco Corbetta, Gaspar Sanz and Santiago de Murcia.
My approach builds on the important work of Dusan Bogdanovic and Ralph Towner, whose instructional methods offer technical, theoretical and psychological insights into the process of solo guitar improvisation. The parameters of my approach are defined by an evolving vocabulary of materials and practices garnered from instructional methods, a range of plucked string instrumental techniques, procedures and forms from early music, flamenco, Celtic and Latin American guitar practices along with incorporated materials from jazz, ethnic and contemporary experimental musics. This research chronicles the evolution of my unique form of practice, outlining the interlocking processes and methods that informed a series of performances featuring improvised music for solo guitar. A folio containing a series of recorded performances along with a selection of preparative scores is accompanied by an exegetical document that explains the applied research methodology, the conceptual and philosophical framework underpinning my approach, with an analysis of selected performances.
Stringshift. Solo Guitar Improvisation: Process, Methodology and Practice