Women of the Classical Guitar

“This all began at Buffalo 1st edition of Women of the guitar. We were having a roundtable with Martha Masters, Gohar Vardanyan, myself and Joanne Castellani. Joanne were asking so many interesting questions and we came to the conclusion that they are many women playing the guitar and they needed to be more exposed. I hate to complain so I promised that I would raise a big list of all the women playing the guitar around the world. Here we are one year after that promise and the list keeps growing.”

Gaëlle Solal

Women of the Classical Guitar list

Rondalla and the traditional spanish strings

christmasThe most common musical formation 30 years ago in this part of Spain was the “rondalla”, a group of players using bandurrias, laudes and guitars. The guitar was of course the rythmic accompaniment and the smallest (bandurria) was the the solo voice. Dances, parties and any social event would see at the very least a group of three players and in the case of a concert there might be as many as fifty. The larger groups often had a few bass guitars too. Today, choirs, orchestras and marching bands have become more common but you can still see groups, recordings and even festivals dedicated to the spanish string trio.

The relationship between these three instruments was a very important one also for the guitar-maker. Years ago everyone started out building all three instruments but today very few makers build fine bandurrias and laudes.  Very few musicians are looking for a bandurria that costs in the thousands of Euros.

The book that I talk so much about tells the story of Benito Ferrer who played the bandurria for dances and how that led him to starting a workshop which in a way resulted in the consolidation of the Granada School of Guitar-making.

The trade has changed in many ways over the years and this is just one of the things that has been lost in the specialization.  The older guitar-makers here in Granada are fond of telling us how a guitar-maker must know how to choose a standing tree, fell it, cut it up to dry, maximize the number of sets and then store them for seasoning.  Of course these days very few have that luxury or knowledge.  One of the reasons for the excellent tradition in Granada is that almost all of the makers who started in the 70s or earlier came from wood-working trades, specifically cabinet-making.

Carlos Blanco Ruiz

Remember this guitar? http://www.granadaexpert.com/johnray/manuel-ramirez-1911/  Well, Carlos has just used it on another recording and I have now received my copy of the cd, very nicely played and well recorded.  You can get it here although I am not sure if they ship outside of Spain.  On the same page you can download the booklet and listen to quite a few tracks.


Carlos Blanco Ruiz

Manuel Ramírez, 1911
Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2014
The Instituto de Estudios Riojanos published in 2005 the book and CD “Francisco Calleja (1891-1950): Música original para guitarra. Edición Crítica” and in 2012 a second cd “La guitarra de Francisco Calleja: nuevas obras y transcripciones”, both authored by Carlos Blanco Ruiz.
The first project contained a biography, editions of the known pieces and a cd of this music.  The second contained new music both originals and transcriptions.
We now present a third recording with music that is related to Francisco Calleja.  There are a few things that justify this new publication:
On the one hand we have the appearance of new repertoire, recently discovered.  On the other hand is the possibility of displaying the aspect of performer through Calleja’s transcriptions and other pieces which are not his but were often present in his concert programmes in his almost 40 years of performing.
  Several of them are mainstays of guitar repertoire from the beginning of the twentieth century.  Finally, but no less importantly, the possibility of studying and recording these pieces on a historical instrument, a guitar made by Manuel Ramírez from 1911 which belonged to the maestro and still retains the sound of these increasingly appreciated instruments.  The so-called historical guitars have a characteristic “spanish sound” which allow us to understand the music of the period (in which they were built) in a different way.  Our challenge was to ensure that the recording captures those special timbres in an attempt to offer a complementary vision of guitar music from the essential first decades of the twentieth century but seen through the eyes (or ears) of Francisco Calleja (from La Rioja).  LA GUITARRA DE PRINCIPIOS DEL S.XX BAJO EL PRISMA DE FRANCISCO CALLEJA was recorded in June of 2012 in Studios MECA, San Asensio and the sound technician was Javier Rojas Ruiz.

Below is a video from the recording sessions.

Antonio Marín Montero

People from all over the world know Granada for its guitars but here in our own city, until this year we have had no official recognition.  The Granada provincial government (publishers of the guitar-makers’ book) has once again risen to the occasion.  Here is the official act during which Antonio Marín is awarded a medal by the province of Granada.  Start watching at 9:17.