World Music on Guitar

About being a musician

The dilemma of the classical guitar and how to be a musician

One of the main dilemmas of the classical guitar is that many players attempt to copy other (famous) players rather than developing their own musical language.   

It is true that unlike in jazz, classical music has many rules and regulations but there is still plenty of room for individuality within that framework of rules. Besides that the guitar has the advantage of being at home in almost every thinkable musical culture and style; we should make full use of that great opportunity.

To develop our own musical personality, language and interpretations it is utmostly important that we fully explore those spaces and possibilities as without our very own personal musical message our playing will be meaningless. 

We ought to strive to develop ourselves as meaningful and cultured people, as people who got something to say and contribute towards society, people who have a meaningful message to convey. While trying to achieve that we should be aware that tradition is something highly valuable to our past, present and future but that getting stuck with it would prevent us from developing further and hence prevent tradition from growing and retaining itself as such.

As performing musicians we should listen to others and study their way of playing but in the end we will have to think and create ourselves and develop our very own style of playing, our own signature to what we do. Shallowness and copying is a sure killer of good music and it surely won't travel far. Without offering a genuine message nobody will be interested in listening to us.

Firstly we MUST understand the music we are playing. That requires thorough studies of music theory and music history. Furthermore, it is very important to listen to different styles and genres of music, to other instruments and other musical cultures besides just the classical guitar repertoire which, unfortunately, is very limited compared to other instruments such as the piano etc. 

As guitarists (and pianists) we tend to think vertically (in chords rather than in lines) whereas the singers, woodwind players and violin players think horizontally (melody lines, phrasing etc.). Both approaches are very important in music and we need to learn these different approaches from each other and combine them in order to become accomplished musicians.

However, most of all, we always have to play "honestly", from the depth of our hearts. In common language, if we do not tell the truth our listeners will realize that and consider our words a lie; this is the same in music.

Our performance reflects our personality and that makes music such a wonderful thing!

Amazing medical developments

Amazing medical developments

During my recent trip to Europe I stopped over at my house in the Black Forest near the Swiss-French borders, a truly beautiful part of the world. I was on my way to perform a concert to celebrate the 7th cycle (84th) birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol of Thailand at London’s famed Bloomsbury Theater, a great honour given to me by the Royal Thai Embassy in the UK.

Unexpectedly, just five days before the concert I started suffering from a cholecystitis, a condition which carries incredibly horrendous pains. Fortunately, a dear doctor friend of mine realized the symptoms quickly and correctly and immediately sent me into the capable hands of one of Germany’s most gifted surgeons in Freiburg who not only freed me of my horrors of having an operation but perhaps also saved my life by removing an almost perforated gallbladder via a so-called “key-hole surgery” also known as micro surgery.

To my absolute amazement, four hours after the operation I was having tea at my little hospital suite and only two days later I went back home to travel on to London the following day and in time for my concert.

Remembering the days when such an operation put people into hospital for weeks I felt that western medicine had made giant steps forward. It certainly saved me from having to cancel an extremely important concert and I am most grateful for that.