For its breadth of melody, harmony and grasp of musical styles across the ages, the guitar, has been for me an enduring source of discovery and fascination. From the recesses of its repertoire and in full light are gems that will surely ever-last. My devotion to the guitar was sparked way back when I saw myself in khaki as on the last and reluctant conscripts of National Service. Whiling away evenings in the barrack room with a handful of chords, little did I realize then of the guitar’s potential for line weaving, and in particular its capacity for harmony.
As the years rolled on a monthly magazine ‘Guitar International’ as it became known was launched and its founder, George Clinton, invited me to join his team. This led to interviewing guitarist-recitalists from home and abroad. These enlightening exchanges as one-to one conversations with players of the classical and contemporary repertoire, jazz veterans and composers proved a revelation. Hearing of their dedication to the instrument, their pursuits, encounters along the way and the challenges they faced should not pass without recollection, hence their revisits here.
Between times, probing the fingerboard yielded a crop of musical components which I compiled under the book title ‘Harmony for Guitar’. Apart from Major-minor staples and their extensions, countless others have arisen in recent years that also lie within range of six strings. Among them are unique sonorities from combinations of open and stopped strings. Likened to ‘campañellas’ – the shimmers of little bells– their after-rings are variously vibrant or veiled in tone. Also held dear to me are jazz changes. Radiant and mellow, so many individual touches can be applied to them. These with campañellas feature to a fair degree in my album of solos ‘Perspectives for Guitar’. Composed during the later decades of the 20th century, they have recently been recorded by a Finnish guitarist, Janne Malinen and can be heard in view of a printout of their music from this platform.