Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Frank Nordberg
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Frank Nordberg » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:37 pm

sxedio wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:22 pm
Frank Nordberg wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:22 pm

Just out of curiosity, what would people here call this?
[mod edit: copyrighted music. Search youtube: The Black Balloon, John Renbourn]
Genius?
Maybe. ;)

It's not John Renbourn at his best, it's not even the best track on that record. But I chose it because it is very much a crossover between "folk" and "classical" - with a good measure of jazz thrown in, especially towards the end.

crazyrach97
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by crazyrach97 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:18 am

Almost everybody here is skirting around the main issue. The term classical refers to European art music. What we think of as fingerstyle has nothing to do with that.

AndrewFitzsimmons

Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by AndrewFitzsimmons » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:34 am

crazyrach97 wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:18 am
Almost everybody here is skirting around the main issue. The term classical refers to European art music. What we think of as fingerstyle has nothing to do with that.
It is one of those "essence" questions. I mean some folk play "European Art Music" on guitars with plectrums?

Bill B
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Bill B » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:36 am

crazyrach97 wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:18 am
Almost everybody here is skirting around the main issue. The term classical refers to European art music. What we think of as fingerstyle has nothing to do with that.
yes.

The term classical has a couple of different widely accepted meanings, and none of them have much in common with the term "finger style." European art music is the widest meaning of the term, but then it is also used for a specific subset of european art music from a specific era, between baroque and romantic. It is also used in other disciplines such as visual art, architecture, literature and such. In all of the uses I am familiar with it refers more to the form, structure, or proportions of the work than of the particular technique used in the work. One might compose a piece that had a classical structure but sounded more like heavy metal or bluegrass or whatever and was played with a pick. In such a usage the term classical would have meaning. Contrariwise, if one plays a bit of jazz, blues, pop, metal, bluegrass, flamenco, or whatever, even with the best finger style technique, that doesn't make it classical. If all you mean by it is "played with fingers as opposed to a plectrum" then the term finger style is clearer and thats what I would use.
Now I've been a guitar player long enough and known enough "regular" guitar players to know that a lot of non classical guitarists will use the term classical generally as a sign of respect, to refer to good technique, particularly finger style technique. I don't like this usage for two reasons. One, I have plenty of respect for jazz, blues, bluegrass and other players in their own right. I don't feel like using the term classical to describe what they do is in any way elevating it. Two, I don't like to create this kind of ambiguity. We already have meanings for the terms "classical" and "finger style." there is no greater clarity to be gained by trying to use one term for the other meaning. Im not inclined to think that the addition of "semi-" clears it up any either.
I can't remember ever hearing the term semi-classical outside this post. sure you can use it if you like, but if you want people to know what you mean, I wouldn't. Anyone who knows what you mean by it would also know the term finger style.
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AndrewFitzsimmons

Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by AndrewFitzsimmons » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:45 am

Bill B wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:36 am
crazyrach97 wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:18 am
Almost everybody here is skirting around the main issue. The term classical refers to European art music. What we think of as fingerstyle has nothing to do with that.
yes.

The term classical has a couple of different widely accepted meanings, and none of them have much in common with the term "finger style." European art music is the widest meaning of the term, but then it is also used for a specific subset of european art music from a specific era, between baroque and romantic. It is also used in other disciplines such as visual art, architecture, literature and such. In all of the uses I am familiar with it refers more to the form, structure, or proportions of the work than of the particular technique used in the work. One might compose a piece that had a classical structure but sounded more like heavy metal or bluegrass or whatever and was played with a pick. In such a usage the term classical would have meaning. Contrariwise, if one plays a bit of jazz, blues, pop, metal, bluegrass, flamenco, or whatever, even with the best finger style technique, that doesn't make it classical. If all you mean by it is "played with fingers as opposed to a plectrum" then the term finger style is clearer and thats what I would use.
Now I've been a guitar player long enough and known enough "regular" guitar players to know that a lot of non classical guitarists will use the term classical generally as a sign of respect, to refer to good technique, particularly finger style technique. I don't like this usage for two reasons. One, I have plenty of respect for jazz, blues, bluegrass and other players in their own right. I don't feel like using the term classical to describe what they do is in any way elevating it. Two, I don't like to create this kind of ambiguity. We already have meanings for the terms "classical" and "finger style." there is no greater clarity to be gained by trying to use one term for the other meaning. Im not inclined to think that the addition of "semi-" clears it up any either.
I can't remember ever hearing the term semi-classical outside this post. sure you can use it if you like, but if you want people to know what you mean, I wouldn't. Anyone who knows what you mean by it would also know the term finger style.
Thank you Bill B, great post.

Kind Regards
Andrew

Grasshopper
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Grasshopper » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:12 am

I think the OP was referring the manner of playing the guitar rather than the genre of music being played. There is a classical style of playing guitar which is fairly recognisable - but it involves far more than using the fingers of your right hand to pick the strings instead of a pick. Non-classical finger style spans a wide variety of styles from using thumb and one finger to thumb and three fingers. Some of these styles are obviously almost classical in their technique - and could be called "semi-classical" if you like - but others bear little resemblance to classical style (Mark Knopfler for example). If he were to play an acoustic classical guitar it wouldn't sound much like a classical guitar. On the other hand when John Williams plays an electric guitar it doesn't sound much like an electric guitar. It's the right hand that's the main difference.

2lost2find
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by 2lost2find » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:28 pm

What crazyrach is getting at (and I should know; I live with her) is that the OP seems to be confusing technique with genre. If I'm plucking with my fingers on a nylon-string guitar using classically informed technique playing a Hendrix tune (which I have been known to do), it's not classical music. By the same token, if I write a piece for orchestra in sonata form and include a part for distorted electric guitar played with a pick it's not rock... it's classical music with unorthodox choice of instrumentation.

To be fair, some pro musicians who should know better have muddied those waters.

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Thomas
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Thomas » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:46 pm

I mean the manner of playing not the genre.

2lost2find
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by 2lost2find » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:05 pm

Thomas wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:46 pm
I mean the manner of playing not the genre.
There's no connection. Playing techniques exist independently of the music that is performed using them. What we think of as fingerstyle evolved from a folk/blues tradition that has nothing to do with classical music. Even of I use classical technique on a nylon or gut string guitar to play that music, it's still not classical music. Words mean things, and if we get too loose with terminology nothing we say makes any sense.

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Frank Nordberg
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Frank Nordberg » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:55 pm

2lost2find wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:28 pm
To be fair, some pro musicians who should know better have muddied those waters.
Not at all! Some of the best music ever created were results of musicans (and composers) gleefully ignoring stylistic boundaries and mix and match whicever way they saw fit.

The general rule is:
Music lovers want to play the right music, musicians wnat to play the music right.
2lost2find wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:05 pm
What we think of as fingerstyle evolved from a folk/blues tradition that has nothing to do with classical music.
The folk/blues tradition is firmly rooted in what we call "classical music" today. Practically all standard "folk fingerpicking" patterns are found in Carcassi's guitar school and that is no coincidence. The 19th and ealry 20th century guitarists in rural regions didn't just sit down with their instrument and try to figure it all out on their own. They bought sheet music and they bought tutorials and if there was a teacher available, they took lessons. Carcassi was particularly popular so their style was very much based on his teaching.

As for the blues, yes it does have a strong African flavour not often found in European music but not nearly as strong as people seem to think. Afro-American musicians were quite well schooled in European music all the way back to the days of slavery when talented slaves were sent over the Atlantic to study music so they could entertain their masters.
W. C. Handy is often credited as the creator of blues. He was very much a classically trained musicians and that is very evident in all his works. I don't know if Robert Johnson ever received any formal training. Apparently he just vanished one day and returned as a skilled performer. Nobody knows who had taught him but myth says it was the Devil himself. ;)
In any case, what he had learned was very much "classical" style. His form, voicing and harmonization are quite in accordance with classical style. For example, neither Handy nor Johnson ever used the V-IV-I candenza that later became so stereotypical of blues (and even that candenza can easily be traced back to English "classical" music).
Even the word "blues" comes from what we would call "classical music" today. It was a fairly common name for a lament before Handy captured it and gave it a more specific meaning.
Last edited by Frank Nordberg on Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

2lost2find
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by 2lost2find » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:53 am

Frank, you misunderstand me. I'm not knocking the fusion of styles... I'm knocking classical guitarists who play Beatles songs or the like and call it a classical arrangement. It's not. It's an arrangement for solo guitar but that does NOT make it classical music.

Regarding the blues and early American fingerpicking, you're partly right and partly wrong. The blues was indeed the creation of Tin Pan Alley songsmiths, not something that came out of Africa. The 12 bar song form we think of as the blues first appears in some hit songs of the 2nd decade of the 19th century, and there is zero hard evidence of it's existence prior. There is even reason to believe that the term blues originated as a marketing term to sell that music. The early years of blues recording were dominated by black female singers singing songs written by white professional songwriters and backed by jazz groups... Ma Rainy and Bessie Smith were the leading exponents. The solo guitar guys didn't start recording in earnest till 1925 or so, and they played many different kinds of songs, not just blues. So was blues something they grew up with, or something they copied off of the recordings of female singers from the previous five or six years? There is reason to believe it was the latter.

That said, there is no real evidence of a direct-line path from 19th century classical guitar pedagogy to what those guys were doing on the guitar. Their technique overall was far more primitive (that is not to say it was necessarily easy to play), and stylistically much more heavily dependent on idiomatic cliches. Bear in mind as well many of these guys didn't have conventional literacy, much less the ability to read music! Texas and Delta guitarists leaned heavily on boogie patterns (copied from pianists) and the alternating bass of the so-called west coast players was derived not from 19th century European alberti bass, but from ragtime pianists like Scott Joplin.

Robert Johnson came in pretty late to the party, and was not particularly original... if you're familiar with what came before you can easily identify who he stole what from. He's mostly so heavily canonized because an LP of his music was distributed on the British market in the early 60s, and a number of British guitarists who would go on to become iconic (Clapton in particular) were very heavily influenced by it. Honestly I'll take Skip James or Blind Lemon Jefferson or a dozen others over him anyday.

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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:29 am

Classical Music isn't limited to "European Art" music, that's an inaccurate assertion.
Additionally, Classical Guitar Music incorporates musical styles and influences from everywhere, not just Europe!

Anyway, it seems obvious to me the OP was talking about guitar playing technique.

To that I say, if you want to call finger style semi-Classical, please go right ahead!

The world needs more forward thinking musicians, and I imagine playing a gig which combines the styles would be a good gig and attract the attention of quite a few people, and possibly expose them to something new!

What do we call the London Symphony Orchestra performing LedZeppelin songs?

Or the Pops Concert my local Orchestra does every year?

What about the Fusion of Bluegrass and the Symphony Orchestra of which my close family member was ConcertMaster last year?

For that matter, an Amplified Cello adapted with resonant strings and Sitar Duet, accompanied by electronic Tambura?

Surely these are all forms of Classical Music!
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:40 am

2lost2find wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:28 pm
To be fair, some pro musicians who should know better have muddied those waters.
How exactly is it 'fair' to suggest that 'some pro musicians'... 'should know better?'

I think both of you are wrong regarding what defines Classical Music, and to be speaking with what appears a presumptuously authoritative attitude about what Classical Music is or shouldn't be is, to be fair, somewhat ridiculous!

Sincere thanks are due however for tickling my brain with this logical chuckle!

As to your presupposed definitions, to be kind, how do any of these 20 professional artists fit into "proper" Classical Music, as it were?

https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/pi ... metallica/
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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Peter Frary
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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by Peter Frary » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:47 am

English is indeed a slippery language and the meanings of words shift with time and context. Classical was originally used to describe ancient Greek and Latin literature, art, music and culture. When artists of the 18th century began using Classical art of the ancients as a theme or inspiration in their paintings we called it neoclassical art. Historians somehow labelled the music of the 18th century as classical albeit it has nothing to do with Classical music of antiquity. Even worse, the term classical is used as a catch-all for Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and Modern music, confusing everybody even more. And classical is also used to denote things of exemplary and lasting value, e.g., classical motorcycles and classical physics. So, yeah, the meaning of classical is so broad it almost means nothing without a very specific context.

But, yeah, the OP surely was asking about guitar technique, not musical style or repertoire. You could use "classical technique" to improvise jazz or play Hawaiian slack key—I do—so technique and musical styles are separate topics.

Personally I'd like to retire the term "classical music" and just go with music. But that ain't ever happening as we love our marketing categories and everything needs a dad burn label. At gigs I've been labeled as a "World Beat" musician because they heard me playing Barrios, Sor and variations on Korean folk songs...
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

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Re: Can I call finger style semi- classical?

Post by musikai » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:22 am

riffmeister wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:07 pm
Finger style is how I eat pizza.
:D :D :D

I also think Thomas question is about technique and not style.
As Grasshopper said Fingerstyle is mostly seen with freestroke arpeggios. Missing some parts of classical guitar technique like reststroke you could call it semi-classical.
But my dictionary tells me:
semiclassical = of, relating to, or being a musical composition that is intermediate in style between classical and popular music

So I wouldn't mix the 2 words.
Nevertheless this piece could qualify as semi-classical Fingerstyle:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=118610
:bye:
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