International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016 – Reflections

#IGRCSurrey 2016

If you have managed to read through the last few blog posts, you will by now know that there has been an incredible amount of world-class research presented at the International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016 at University of Surrey over the past six days. A diverse contingent of performers from a number of genres, researchers,  musicologists, pedagogues and advocates for our instrument in its many facets came to together from around the globe to network and freely share their research and artistry. Every single lecture and recital was stimulating and thought provoking. It is amazing that my blogs over the past few days have only covered about half of the amount of research presented. Most lecture sessions were run in parallel,  and I wish I could have split myself into two people in order to attend the other sessions! The full-schedule can be found here:

Wonderful news is that IGRC directors Dr Steve Goss and Dr Milton Mermikides have meticulously ensured that all of the proceedings over the entire conference were digitized and will be endeavoring to archive it all and make audio/video and media available to the public in the next few months – watch this space:

A Facebook page has been established in order to network the attendees, and any others who are interested in keeping up-to-date with the future events at the IGRC, which can be found here:

A massive thanks to all the delegates for so freely sharing your knowledge, artistry and passion this week and to Dr. Goss and Dr. Mermikides and all the #IGRCSurrey crew for putting on such an incredible event.  While I still may need a few more days to rest my brain and body after such an amazing week, I am already counting down the days until the next one 🙂





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International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016- Day 6

Day 6 – Wednesday Mar 23, 2016 

The last day here at #IGRCSurrey 2016. The morning began with a fascinating lecture-recital from Sam Muir (accompanied by her student Lara) discussing the history of the enchanting Medeiran machete de braga, and its transformation into the Hawaiian ukulele. Sam was followed by Gilbert Biberian discussing his three volume methodology, LIBER.

The morning continued with two lecture-recitals on Brazilian Guitar Music. Adam May and Ken Murray (both from the University of Melbourne) presented a dynamic lecture-recital titled “Brazilian guitar music: seven-string guitar, cavaquinho, and the traditional 6-string guitar”, exploring both the established solo Brazilian guitar repertoire, as well as the guitar in solo and small ensemble playing in Brazilian Popular Music. The duo played some wonderful mixed duo’s and finished with a fantastic original composition by Ken Murray.

Following Ken and Adam, Marlou Peruzzolo Vieira (University of Aveiro, Portugal) presented a lecture recital titled “Non-guitarist composers and the problems of writing for guitar: a case study on Brazilian composers”, in which he analyzed and exemplified difficulties faced by non-guitarist composers when writing for the classical guitar.

For the final lecture-recital set of the day and the conference, Martin Vishnick presented a lecture on his research surrounding guitar repertoire and morphological structuring principles.  Following Martin, Ericsson Castro Bezerra Castro Sá Munoz and Andrea Paz Munõz Silva (CEM: Centro de Educação Musical Carlos Gomes, Brazil) discussed the reflections and relations between idiomatic and free improvisation, and their use in the guitar universe within the context of contemporary music.





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International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016- Day 5

Day 5 -Tuesday Mar 22, 2016

Another wonderfully full day at #IGRCSurrey 2016.

The morning began with a fascinating lecture from physicist and postdoctoral research associate, David Robert Grimes, who discussed the physics of string-bending and other electric guitar techniques. Following David was another of my University of Surrey PostGrad colleagues, James Armstrong. James’ paper, “In Search of Environmental Influence and the Significance of Space on Guitar Performance” presented some early results of his ongoing research into the overall impact of environment and space on guitar performance. Laura Lee, a University of Surrey MMus research-practitioner, closed the session with a presentation on her current research; an ongoing collaborative project that aims to re- invent the classic ‘jam’ environment. The project explores collaborative input between two guitarists (Dominik Struzenberger and Laura Lee) and ‘machine’, using Ableton Live as a compositional and performance tool.

In the second session of the morning, Jon Rattenbury presented a lecture titled “An overwhelming amount of information – exploring Milton Babbitt’s guitar music through repetition”, in which Jon gave a report on the progress of a performance-as-research project involving guitar music by Milton Babbit. Following Jon, Hannah Lindmaier discussed her continuing research on 19th Century female guitarists, with a focus on the life and career of German-English guitarist Catharina Josepha Pratten (née Pelzer). Trevor Babb then presented a lecture-recital titled “New Modes of Listening and an Embrace of Rock in Tristan Murail’s ‘Vampyr!’”, exploring Murail’s fascinating work for solo electric guitar.

After lunch, The Hibernian Guitar Duo (Morgan Buckley and Eoin Flood) presented a wonderful key-note lecture; “Communicating with the Orishas: exploring cross-culturation and the creative process in two commissions on Yorubian Bata drumming music”. The duo is currently working on an interdisciplinary artistic commissioning project, designed to explore and elucidate cross-culturation and the nature of creativity in the commissioning process. Using contemporary composers and historically informed sources, the project aims to experimentally reenact and observe the cross-culturation that took place in Central America. The program concluded with a premiere of “Talking Drums” by Steve Goss.

The afternoon session featured a group of diverse papers from Grahame Klippel, Amy Brandon and myself. Grahame presented on the classical guitar works of British composer Gareth Walters (1928 – 2012). Following Grahame, Amy Brandon presented a highly informative lecture on her research into the efficacy of available Jazz guitar methods. Amy presented some preliminary results of an experimental study evaluating the effectiveness of fourteen published methods of fretboard memorization. The goal of the study is to discover which method, if any, has an advantage in allowing the student to learn and memorize the notes on the fretboard the fastest and the most completely. To close the session, I presented a paper exploring the negotiations of gender within the field of electric lead guitar playing in popular music, touching on the career of players such as Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie, through to Carrie Brownstein and Annie Clark. This paper is an off-shoot of my current PhD research into the technical and musical analysis of pioneering female guitar players in American popular music.

To finish another full day, Christopher Page Professor of Medieval Music and Literature in the University of Cambridge, gave a fascinating key-note lecture on The Guitar in England from 1550 to 1650, presenting new findings from archival material.IMG_1406IMG_1410IMG_1415IMG_1417IMG_1419IMG_1424IMG_1428IMG_1430IMG_1432IMG_1435

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International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016- Day 4

Day 4 – Monday Mar 21, 2016.

Another incredibly busy and informative day of guitar, research and music at #IGRCSurrey 2016.

To start the morning, Aliexsey Vianna presented a lecture-recital titled  “Unaccompanied Improvisations – The multi-textural nature of the guitar”in which he presented his analysis of some fundamental techniques used by two of the most prolific classical guitar improvisers: Ralph Towner and Dusan Bogdanovic. Inspiring to hear such strong advocacy for improvisation on the classical guitar, from such a great player. Joe Bell followed Alieksey, presenting on the improvisational techniques for fretted and fretless instruments. With examples from Persian, Arabic and Indian repertoire, alongside jazz materials, Joe discussed  methods of improvisation, the relationship of improviser to materials and structures, and meditational methods related to performance.

At 11am,  there were three papers presented on Jazz Guitar topics; Tom Williams, one of my IGRC PostGrad colleagues, presented a paper titled “Filling In the F Holes: A topography of the contemporary jazz guitar-scape”, during which he provided a highly informative analysis of the contemporary jazz guitar scenes, including the exponents, music and strands which interweave to create the richly diverse idiom that exists today. Mark McKnight and Ant Law both presented excellent papers related to the exploration of creativity and composition in Jazz.

The afternoon featured a panel discussion on “The Electric Guitar: Pedagogy, Diversity and Virtuosity”. This panel brought together a group of electric guitar educators and practitioners to discuss a range of themes surrounding the electric guitar including issues of literacy, pedagogy, virtuosity,diversity and technology. The panelists were Bridget Mermikides, Mike Outram, John Wheatcroft, Amy Brandon, Jason Sidwell, Neville Marten, Mark McKnight and myself, and the panel was chaired by Milton Mermikidies.

After the panel, I had a chance to spend a little time with Matt Buchanan and Guy Traviss, discussing their exciting work on an upcoming  documentary project on the acoustic-percussive fingertsyle guitar movement. More details can be found here:

Jan De Kloe, today’s keynote speaker, discussed symbolism in the music of J.S.Bach and finally the  ‘Ant Law Trio’  delivered an incredible jazz show to end the night.


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International Guitar Research Centre Conference – Day 3

#IGRCSurrey Day 3 – Sunday, 20th March 2016.

Some very informative lectures and incredible playing this morning in the lecture-recitals @IGRC Research Conference 2016 . The wonderful Alberto Mesirca presented his research on the “The Discovery of the Guitar Works from the Sutro Collection, San Francisco State Library” and Bradley Colton presented “Ernst Bacon: Unearthed American Masterpieces for Guitar”. Both lectures were incredibly informative, introducing us to new and exciting additions to the classical guitar repertoire, which were played exceptionally well by the two presenters.  Diego Castro Magas presented “From image to gesture: towards a gesture-based approach in performance practice of recent guitar”. Using Brian Ferneyhough’s  ‘Kurze Schatten II'(1983-89) as a case study, Diego discussed his proposed gesture-based approach to the performance of recent (British) guitar music. Luciano Tortorelli presented “Paganini and the Guitar: ‘A Secret Love’,  analyzing the connections between Niccolò Paganini and the guitar.

And that was all before lunch !

This afternoon, cello and guitar duo Kimberly Patterson & Patrick Sutton presented an in-depth discussion on the influences that shaped the composition of Stephen Goss’ “Park of Idols”. Chris Rainier then gave a fascinating presentation and performance on the use of the ‘Adapted Guitar no.1’ in the works of American microtonal composer, theorist and instrument-builder Harry Partch. To end the afternoon, Tillman Hoppstock  gave a keynote lecture on his analysis of Bach’s PFA (BWV 998).

Two more great concerts today. At lunchtime, Michael Partington played a beautiful program including Albeniz, Johanson, and Goss. This evening, outstanding young guitarists Andrey Lebedev and Laura Snowden shared the program, playing works commissioned by the Julian Bream Trust.IMG_1382IMG_1383IMG_1384IMG_1387IMG_1390IMG_1392IMG_1399





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International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016 – Day 1 and 2

A fantastic concert last night from the Mobius Trio (USA) to open the six day, International Guitar Research Centre Conference 2016 at the University of Surrey.

Today, a full day of papers, lecture-recitals and concerts. Papers on diverse topics from the music of  Henze, Tedesco, Ohana and Percy Grainger. Other papers included an analysis of expression in the recordings of Llobet and Graham Wade’s “Genre and Methodology in plucked chordophone literature 1914 – 2015”.

Two fascinating lecture-recitals this afternoon: Rich Perks’  “Fretless Architecture: An Exploration of the Fretless Electric Guitar” and Milton Mermikides and Carl Faia’s “The Extended Guitar: Integration of the guitar with Max/MSP in pedagogy, performance and composition”. Milton and Carl shared work from their current project – designing a suite of tools for the contemporary creative practitioner, which use digital programming (within the very flexible Max/MSP language) for analysis, pedagogy, performance and composition.

An insightful and insipring keynote lecture recital from Jonathan Leathwood (US/UK) entitled “Improvisations, Structures and Schemata: Towards Virtuosity in Performance and Cognition”.

Two great concerts today: Lunchtime recital Bradley Johnson, the Winner of the 2015 Ivor Mairants Guitar Award and we finished the first full day with a concert by the ever brilliant Tilman Hoppstock.

Looking forward to tomorrow !IMG_1364IMG_1366IMG_1368IMG_1377IMG_1374IMG_1380


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International Guitar Research Centre Conference, Mar 18-23, 2016 @ University of Surrey

A very exciting event at the International Guitar Research Centre at University of Surrey (Guildford, UK) this coming week – some of the most distinguished and highly regarded scholars and musicians from around the world will gather for this major international conference featuring six public concerts, four keynote lectures, and over 50 lecture-recitals and academic papers.

There will be a conference installation in the Lewis Elton Art Gallery, a chance to try the latest Moog guitars in the project room, as well as the chance to explore the recently acquired Maurice Summerfield Archive in the University library.

Keynote lectures given by Jonathan Leathwood (University of Denver), Thomas Heck (Guitar Foundation of America), Tilman Hoppstock (Academy of Music, Darmstadt) and Christopher Page (University of Cambridge).

Additional Speakers include: Luigi Attademo, Matthew Marshall, Graham Wade, Gilbert Biberian, Caroline Rae, Mark McKnight, Nico Couck, Diego Castro Magas and Carl Faia.

Events listed below:

Friday 18 March – Wednesday 23 March, Lewis Elton Gallery
Ax Evrtd – Jeevan Rai A multichannel sound installation with projected video, exploring the hypothetical acoustics of the practically impossible

Friday 18 March 7:30 pm, PATS Studio One
Mobius Trio Hailed by Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sergio Assad as ‘the most inventive and exciting young guitar ensemble today’

Saturday 19 March 1:30pm, PATS Studio One
Bradley Johnson guitar Winner of the 2015 Ivor Mairants Guitar Award presented by the Worshipful Company of Musicians

Saturday 19 March 7:30pm, PATS Studio One
Tilman Hoppstock guitar ‘an exceptional player, with a fine sense of style and unfailing sensitivity, and a technician of the first water’ Gramophone

Sunday 20 March 1:30pm, PATS Studio One
Michael Partington guitar Praised by Classical Guitar Magazine for his ‘lyricism, intensity and clear technical command’

Sunday 20 March 7:30pm, PATS Studio One
Andrey Lebedev and Laura Snowden guitars Award winners of the Julian Bream Trust, this duo perform new works commissioned by the Trust.

Monday 21 March 7:30pm, PATS Studio One
Ant Law Jazz Trio ‘Bustling power, judiciously harnessed with elegance and poise… Bright, punchy and memorable.’ London Jazz News

A link to the full timetable can be found here. For more information click here




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12th Annual LMU Guitar Festival – March 18-20th, 2016

Loyola Marymount University in Los Angles will be hosting it’s 12th Annual Guitar Festival next month — looking to be another stellar weekend of guitar events.

Celil Refik Kaya Concert: Friday, March 18, 8 p.m.

Technique Workshop w/Celil Refik Kaya Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Young Artists Showcase Concert: Saturday, March 19, 11a.m. – 1 p.m.

Ensemble Coachings: Saturday, March 19, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Performance by Cameron O’Connor: Saturday, March 19, 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.

Amadeus Duo Concert: Saturday, March 19, 8 p.m.

Amadeus Duo Masterclass: Sunday, March 20 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Kupinski Guitar Duo Concert: Sunday, March 20, 2 – 3 p.m.

All weekend long: Vendor’s and Luthier’s fair

Be sure to check it out if you are in the Southern California area

For more information click here

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St Vincent partners with Ernie Ball for Signature Model – designed with female players in mind.

Pretty cool………

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Goes2Eleven Podcast…….

Guitarist and music writer Matt Cochran is producing a great new podcast called Goes2Eleven, a weekly podcast about the world of the guitar, featuring interviews, music, reviews, and more. G2E covers every aspect of the guitar world, from buying your first guitar to a stylistic analysis of the music of Pat Metheny.

Check it out here

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