Francis Beacon on Playing Classical Guitar Naturally
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“Nature, in order to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
In his Kitharologous, Ricardo Iznaola offers this quote by Francis Bacon. But as true as it sounds, what does it actually mean?
When we talk about learning and practicing classical guitar, what is “Nature”?
So much in music is thought to be “in the ear of the beholder”. But Bacon suggests that there are deeper truths that govern our art. He implies that it’s only through mastery of these core elements that we create “natural” art and music.
So what are they?
Perhaps we can reference the building blocks of music in general:
- time (rhythm)
- pitch (notes)
- volume (loud vs. soft)
- and timbre (in guitar, tone quality).
For any piece of music, these are indeed a great place to start. And improving any of these will bring our music to higher levels.
But to create any of the above, we have to use our human bodies. And this brings in more “nature”.
If we use our bodies wrong, we can cause pain and injury. Or at the least, we can limit our abilities to execute the four musical building blocks above.
So “nature” now includes our positioning and form, and how we move our hands. It could also include how well we listen and pay attention.
Looking at music in this light, we can perhaps do best by putting complex patterns and pieces aside, and focus for a while instead on beefing up the basics.
We can slow down and release the need to reach a goal or finish line. Now, we just may find joy and meaning in the small incremental improvements that come with focused practice.
When we focus on the fundamentals, we set ourselves up to one day “command nature”.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.
I think the program levels are a great way to teach the guitar. I have had several teachers over the past few years and none came close to the structured organization that you have put together.
~ Peter Marior
I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight-read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.
~ Steve Simpler
Click the button to take a step towards an
organized, effective guitar practice. >>>