Recording the Classical Guitar  book cover
1st Edition

Recording the Classical Guitar

ISBN 9781138554702
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
444 Pages

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Book Description

Recording the Classical Guitar charts the evolution of classical guitar recording practice from the early twentieth century to the present day, encompassing the careers of many of the instrument’s most influential practitioners from acoustic era to the advent of the CD. A key focus is on the ways in which guitarists’ recorded repertoire programmes have shaped the identity of the instrument, particularly where national allegiances and musical aesthetics are concerned. The book also considers the ways in which changing approaches to recording practice have conditioned guitarists’ conceptions of the instrument’s ideal representation in recorded form and situates these in relation to the development of classical music recording aesthetics more generally. An important addition to the growing body of literature in the field of phonomusicology, the book will be of interest to guitarists and producers as well as students of record production and historians of classical music recording.


Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgements

1 Recordings and the Evolving Identity of the Classical

Guitar in the Twentieth Century

De!ning the Terms of the Study

Narratives of the Classical Guitar in the Twentieth Century

The Recording Model Established

The Recording Model Consolidated

The Recording Model Interrogated

The Recording Model Deconstructed


2 The Classical Guitar in the Early Period of Recording: Spain

Introduction: Evaluating the Early Period of Classical Guitar Recording

The Technological Conditions of Early Recording

Recording Plucked String Instruments

Early Classical Guitar Recording in Spain, 1897–1936

The Recordings of Miguel Llobet

Spanish Guitarists on the Regal Label

Other Signi!cant Recordings Made by Spanish Guitarists During the 1920s and 1930s

3 Segovia at HMV (1923–1939)


Segovia’s First Recording

Segovia at HMV: Repertoire and Recording Strategy

The Reception of Segovia’s HMV Recordings

The Sound of Segovia’s HMV Recordings: Early Classical Guitar Recording Aesthetics

The HMV Recordings and Later Critical Perspectives on Segovia’s Performance Style

4 The Classical Guitar in the Early Period of Recording: Latin America


Edison, Victor and the Classical Guitar in Cuba and Mexico

Mexican and Cuban Guitarists Recording in the Late 1920s and Early 1930s

Classical Guitar Recording in the Rio de la Plata and the Legacy of Agustín Barrios

The Eclectic Roots of Solo Guitar Recording in Brazil


5 Segovia at American Decca


Early Post-war Recordings and the Transition to LP

Return to Abbey Road

Segovia at American Decca: Rede!ning the Classical Guitar in the Post-war Period

The LP and the Structure of Segovia’s Early Recorded Programs

Repertoire Programming and Evolution of the Segovian Album Concept

Segovia in the Studio

Segovia’s Recordings and the Aesthetics of “High Fidelity”

Acoustics in Classical Guitar Performance: A Brief Digression

The Sound of Segovia’s American Decca Recordings

6 The North American Backdrop to Segovia


The Foundations of the North American Classical Guitar


The Recordings of the Spanish Music Center

The Spanish Music Center and Lo-Fi Recording Aesthetics

The Recording Career of Rey de la Torre

Laurindo Almeida’s Recordings of the 1950s and 1960s

The Sound of Almeida’s Recordings

The Classical Guitar and American Popular Music and Jazz

7 Developments in Latin America


The Documentation of Latin American Guitar Music

The Emergence of the Brazilian Classical Guitar

Guitarists of the Rio de la Plata

Alirio Díaz and Venezuelan Music

The Classical Guitar in Mexico

Cuban Perspectives on the Classical Guitar


8 Nationalism and Modernism in the Recordings of Julian Bream


Early Recordings for Decca and Westminster

Recording Aesthetics: Westminster’s “Natural Balance”

Re-thinking the Classical Guitar Album Program: Bream at RCA

Modernizing the Repertoire: 20th Century Guitar, ’70s and Dedication

Bream’s Quest for an Acoustic Aesthetic

Re-orienting Recorded Guitar Perspective After Bream

Bream and the Recording Process

9 Non-conformity in the Recordings of John Williams


Early Recordings: Delysé, Westminster and CBS

Williams’ Early Recording Aesthetic

Recording and Repertoire Experiments After 1970

Constructing the Solo Guitar Recording

Crossover Projects from Changes to Sky

Williams’ Changing Attitude to Recorded Classical Guitar Sound

Multi-tracking the Classical Guitar

10 The Wider European Context


Spain: The Early Recordings of Narciso Yepes

Yepes at Deutsche Grammophon

Spanish Contemporaries of Yepes

Guitarists in Austria

The Recordings of Siegfried Behrend and Anton Stingl

The Emerging Czechoslovakian Guitar Scene

Classical Guitar Recording in France


11 Post-Segovian Narratives of the Classical Guitar


The Classical Guitar and the Recording Industry at the End of the 1960s

The Assimilation of the Bream Paradigm

Leo Brouwer and the Avant-garde Classical Guitar

The Album Program Re-imagined

The Rise of the North American Progressives

Contemporary Eastern European Perspectives

Traversing Boundaries: The Recordings of Liona Boyd

Popular Music as Repertoire: The Classical Guitar Canon In!ltrated

12 Retaining and Revitalizing the Tradition


Segovia’s Legacy in North America: Christopher Parkening

The Spanish Perspective Retained

Recordings and the Classical Guitar Transcription

Historical Composer Recording Projects

Latin America and the Classical Guitar Canon

Audiophile Recording and the Classical Guitar

Recapturing Liveness: Classical Guitarists and “Direct to Disc” Recording

13 Narrative Threads Since the 1990s


The Consolidation of the Progressive Paradigm

The Revival of the Classical Guitarist-Composer

Classical Guitar Recording in Britain Since the 1990s

North American Perspectives After 1990

Popular Music and the Canonization of The Beatles

The Canon Upheld: The Recordings of David Russell

The Segovian Paradigm Reinstated

The Repertoire Documented: The Naxos Guitar Collection

The Emergence of the Specialist Classical Guitar Recordist

New Critical Perspectives on Classical Guitar Sound

Extensions of the Audiophile Recording Aesthetic

14 Two Contemporary “House” Guitarists and the Future of Classical Guitar Recording Practice


Xuefei Yang

Miloš Karadagli□□

Concluding Remarks

Archives and Bibliography

Select Discography


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Mark Marrington studied classical guitar as an undergraduate before training as a musicologist in the late 1990s and undertaking doctoral work focused on twentieth-century British music and the composer Denis ApIvor. Later he became interested in record production and recording technologies leading him to a period of research into the impact of digital production tools (principally the Digital Audio Workstation) upon musical creativity in a number of genre contexts. This book is essentially a marriage of these two perspectives. Mark is currently Senior Lecturer in Music Production at York St. John University and his academic writing has been published by Cambridge University Press, Bloomsbury Academic, Routledge, Future Technology Press, British Music, Soundboard, Classical Guitar, the Musical Times and the Journal on the Art of Record Production.