what does a musician/author do in the Corona crisis. A little insight into the work and a "Making of ...".
In March 2017, Gerhard Graf-Martinez celebrated his 65th birthday at the Manufaktur Schorndorf. A birthday concert with musicians with whom he stood in the past 50 years on stage or studio, or who were with him at some point in the lessons. A 4-hour program with Rock - Blues - Jazz - Classical - Oriental - Flamenco - Folk - Klezmer - Dance.
A report in the German flamenco magazine ¡anda!
We congratulate GGM warmly on his 60th birthday and let us review once again with what he has enriched and supported the flamenco aficionados in this country in the past decades.
Self-taught in the broadest sense (concerning his comprehensive music knowledge, guitar competence, flamenco knowledge and computer skills), he has long been recognized beyond Germany's borders as a flamenco guitar teacher. He has always been inspired and driven to develop new ways to make flamenco understandable. To this end, he tirelessly conceived and realized new ideas, thus becoming irreplaceably important for many aficionados in the country. He always had an idea that seemed crazy at first and then never let up until it was realized. He was very often a pioneer, long before the mainstream followed and then eagerly imitated him.
Born in 1952 as the youngest of four siblings, he was soon an outsider in his family, because early on he went new ways, musically as well as politically, in the spirit of the times of the so-called '68s. He went from rock music (1968) to classical music (1973) to the study of flamenco guitar (1976), and now he was looking for opportunities to get closer to flamenco in Madrid and Andalusia.
Subsequently, he began in his Schorndorf music store with the nation's first flamenco mail order. Directly in Spain procured the much sought-after new releases of flamenco records not available in Germany. Flamenco sheet music was also not yet available in the German trade at that time, so he obtained absolute insider sheet music from all over the world, which he then offered nationwide, in his then so popular circulars, as well as the guitars personally selected by him in Spain.
Becoming a father very early (1975) and starting a family, he fought his way through many adversities as a musician and became politically and voluntarily involved in the political-cultural club Manufaktur Schorndorf. During this time, he also began regular teaching activities as a guitar teacher, was a freelancer for SWR, and worked on the first German flamenco magazine. Performances with the flamenco dancer and photographer Elke Stolzenberg followed and in 1982 he founded the flamenco jazz group "Modo Nuevo". In 1985 he suffered a spinal fracture in a serious car accident, the after-effects of which now affect him considerably in old age. In 1986 the Stuttgart audiophile noble label "Jeton" released the first acoustic guitar CD in Germany with "Modo Nuevo", recorded exclusively with GGM's own compositions.
From him, as a freelancer in the Göttinger Musikblatt, workshop episodes appeared continuously, which eventually became the basis of his now multilingual flamenco guitar school.
Through the years of sending records and sheet music, a considerable circle of friends of flamenco guitarists was formed nationwide, from which the participants of his courses with Andrés Batista in Schorndorf (1982 to 84) and in the following years (1985 - 87) in Marbella were recruited. The purpose of these popular courses in Marbella was to teach guitarists directly at the source of flamenco in an Andalusian ambience.
After years of giving courses himself, he was also invited to teach flamenco guitar at international guitar courses and seminars.
From 1987 to 1989 he toured throughout Germany and the former GDR as a duo partner with Thomas Fritz (Zupfgeigenhansel), which also resulted in a record.
In 1990 he founded the Guitar Days in Schorndorf, with the idea of offering guitar students a wide range of guitar styles in several courses at the same time. As lecturers, he invited his well-known friends from jazz, classical, rock and blues all over Germany.
In the same period he gave many concerts, often combined with workshop offers, in Germany and neighboring countries in the ensemble of his wife, the flamenco dancer Lela de Fuenteprado. In 1994 he toured with the fusion project Kathak-Flamenco (at that time also a novelty for Germany), consisting of the Lela de Fuenteprado Ensemble and the Ensemble of Benares through the FRG, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
In 1996 he founded the "Flamencotage Schorndorf". This multi-day workshop, unknown in Germany until then, was offered once a year for dancers and guitarists. For 4 days they concentrated on one Palo, learned the complete choreography with matching guitar accompaniment, sometimes separately, sometimes together, and practiced it in detail. The "Flamencotage" took place for 9 years in a row, thus a new, very popular workshop model was created, which has long since set a precedent.
His flamenco metronome "Compas Flamenco", the so-called flamenco clock, a handy device that fits into the guitar case, which he developed as early as 1986, was highly appreciated in guitarist circles as far away as Andalusia. Since the production costs became higher and higher over the years (manual work/small number of pieces), the distribution unfortunately had to be stopped after 13 years.
GGM has played countless concerts, alone and in various flamenco ensembles, on large and small stages, was seen on radio and TV, mostly together with his wife Lela. Until a serious illness in 2006 (double herniated disc in the cervical spine) banished him from the stage as a guitarist. He was not only appreciated by his dancing wife Lela, she still raves about it: "He always played on my feet and carried me across the stage with his music". This successful fusion of music and movement may be one explanation for our many years of stage success.
He was also the pioneer, or "the first," in other areas. His Internet presence (1994) was the first German-language one on the Web, Europe-wide he and a Dutch Peña were far and wide the only ones on the WorldWideWeb for a long time. In 1997, when many didn't even have a clue how to write internet, let alone have access to it, he already offered the world's 1st flamenco guitar workshop for free download on the internet - that was simply sensational for that time!
From 1992 he worked more and more as an author, and in 1994 his 2-volume Flamenco Guitar School was published by Schott Verlag, Mainz. It is still the undisputed standard textbook for flamenco guitar in Germany and abroad.
Meanwhile he published ten publications worldwide (textbooks with CDs, CD-ROM, DVDs) in German and English. In 2005 he received the Edubilder Award and the Comenius Medal for his DVD "Flamenco Guitar". In the same year his textbook was also published in China. The DVD "Gipsy Guitar", published in 2008, was nominated for the German Educational Media Award "digita 2009" and received the ComeniusEdu award from GPI.
To this day, positive feedback and letters of thanks reach him from all over the world - for his successful teaching works, which have helped many a person to gain enlightening insights and more effective practice after years of futile self-study. The many enthusiastic and praising press quotes for each publication speak for themselves.
In 2010 he surprised with FlamencoPercusión, a software instrument for the musician software Garageband and Logic, which is not only popular with flamenco guitarists, but also with many sound studios worldwide. Since last year, GGM offers live lessons via video chat. A personal lesson where teacher and student around the globe sit opposite each other via webcam (face-to-face). For a long time, it was unthinkable for many to get a few tips from the author of the popular textbook in person, or to take lessons directly from him, even though the "master" is in Urbach, Swabia, and the student is in Vancouver, Dallas or Yokushima.
We can be curious what he will surprise us with in 2012,13, 14 ... and wish him continued success!
German Flamenco Magazine ¡anda! 100/2012
GPI Edu-Media Award 2005
The DVDs Flamenco Guitar Vol 1 & 2 received the Edu Award in 2005, as well as the Comenius Medal of the GPI (Society for Pedagogy, Information and Media, Berlin).
GPI Edu-Media Award 2009
The GPI Edu Award 2009 also went to the DVD production Gipsy-Guitar. With the Comenius Awards, GPI promotes outstanding ICT-based educational media in terms of pedagogy, content and design.
digita 2009 (Nomination)
The DVD Gipsy Guitar - Rumbas Flamencas, released in August 2008, was nominated for the German Education Media Award digita 2009. The prize is a quality award for digital educational media. The winners will be awarded by the IBI/TU Berlin at the "didacta - die Bildungsmesse".
Costa Blanca News
The inventor of the flamenco metronome explains how to become a flamenco guitarist.
(The unabridged) interview with Gerhard Graf-Martinez in the CBN - Costa News, Alicante (Spain), No. 1286, 08 August 2008
CBN: You describe yourself (in the Anda interview) as Cabeza Cuadrada. How did you (as a German) nevertheless manage to become such an outstanding flamenco guitarist?
GGM: To learn flamenco on the spot, or to deepen it, just as one learns a language best in the country where it is spoken.
CBN: Can you keep up with the musicians born in Jerez or Cádiz in every point or are there areas of the music that one would have to learn from an early age (keyword in the blood) to master?
GGM: Since I have also taught Spanish-Andalusians, I know that not all of them "have it in their blood". But the Gitanos "llevan algo en la sangre", which is something that can't be learned - and certainly not by us.
CBN: What fascinated and still fascinates you so much about flamenco that you put other types of music in the background?
GGM: The melting pot of cultures, or the symbiosis of Indian (where the Gitanos originally came from), Oriental, or Arabic (think of the 700-year rule of the Moros), as well as South American and actually Andalusian-Spanish folklore.
Flamenco is at the same time a very emotional and yet strict art form and an attitude towards life. Flamenco means - spontaneity, improvisation in music and lifestyle. Living in the "now". Not giving up, despite the strongest distress. Using the outlet of music and dance, overcoming mental and physical distress, without aggression. Accepting fate, making the best of every situation, be it ever so little - and all this with a pronounced zest for life and a strong will to live.
Flamenco offers a way of expression for every state of our soul. Whether we are sad, or happy, disappointed or jealous, feel a deep pain, or great joy, all this is reflected in flamenco, whether singing, dancing or playing the guitar.
CBN: Would people like Camarón or Paco de Lucía have benefited from their metronome? Who is it for?
GGM: My metronome is not only for the beginner who is trying to learn the compás, the rhythm of the different genres (palos). It is also used by many flamencos to check the compás. Every guitarist is aware of what it means to ask someone to clap the compás for him to try a new falseta. A machine, that is my metronome, fulfills this slave work without grumbling or growling. How many professionals use my metronome can be read on my website.
CBN: What advice do you give to beginners who are getting into flamenco for the first time?
To get involved with the music, which includes cante (singing), baile (dancing) and toque (guitar playing). Listening to a lot of cante and the early realization that it's not "just" a guitar technique, nor is it tap-with-a-po-wiggle.
CBN: What's your favorite palo?
CBN: Can you imagine a life without flamenco and: Isn't Germany fatal if you love this music as much as you do?
GGM: Without flamenco - no I could not imagine that. Since I tried a lot of things on the guitar in the beginning until I came across the flamenco guitar, I could imagine earning my living with another guitar music as well. But without flamenco I would never have met my wife Lela. Probably I would not have discovered an attitude towards life that is quite congruent with mine and then live through it. Perhaps I would never have discovered the beautiful Andalucía, which very quickly became my second home.
I don't know of any German who makes a living in Germany from flamenco, that is, purely from concert activities. Since Europe has moved closer together and a flight is available for a few duros, our Spanish friends, i.e. flamencos, are quite well represented here, where many German "flamenco foreign workers" are simply left behind. The audience is made up of Andalusia vacationers, VHS Spanish course visitors, guitar aficionados and swinging flamenco skirt lovers. Whether a Soleá, or Siguiriyas is performed, is quite unimportant, since one cannot assume that the difference is understood. It is often heard after the concert that the third encore, a rumba, was the really "real" flamenco.
CBN: What is your next project as far as flamenco is concerned? Courses, concerts, compositions? Is it possible to hear you live or attend a course here in Spain?
GGM: Next I want to tackle the third volume to my flamenco guitar school. In fact, sometime in the next few years I plan to hold flamenco courses again, as I did in the 1980s, in Andalusia.
CBN: Do you come to Spain/the Costa Blanca a lot in your private life?
In the past very often - at the moment not, because there is a lot to do here.
CBN: Your flamenco guitar textbook is being (or already is?) translated into Mandarin. Is that because there are actually so many flamenco fans in the Asian region?
GGM: Yes - as you know, there is a very strong flamenco scene in Japan. I think this will develop similarly in China in the immediate future, with the "small" difference that China's population exceeds Japan's by over 10 times.
CBN: Why do you think this music enraptures so many people in this world? Does the "duende" of flamenco really exist?
GGM: I want to be careful with terms like "duende". It is mainly used by the "guiris". JUAN TALEGAS (1891 - 1971), one of the greatest cantaores of the last century said on this subject: "Nonsense. Who put the flea with the duende in the ears of you foreigners? García Lorca, maybe? Duende, it's like fever, like malaria. I've only had duende twice in my life. After that, they had to carry me off the field."
Interview in the flamenco magazine ¡anda! - Nº 77/2008 by Ralf Bieniek.
The unabridged) interview with Gerhard Graf-Martinez in ¡anda! Nº 77/2008 by Ralf Bieniek.
¡anda!: You wrote one of the most popular schools for learning the flamenco guitar. The DVDs you subsequently produced are without equal in terms of practical application. Graf-Martinez is a name in the flamenco world. How are you doing right now in the range between 1 and 5? (1=very good, 5=bad).
GGM: In relation to my publications 1. healthwise 4.
¡anda!: Who or what is responsible for your well-being?
GGM: First and foremost my wife Lela, and of course - if the children are doing well, I am happy. Another important factor is whether I can work, but my social environment also plays a not insignificant role.
¡anda!: What drove you to write a flamenco school back then?
GGM: I always prepared thoroughly for the countless courses in Germany and abroad to which I was invited. Everything I taught in the course, in the workshop, the participant received in written form, i.e. notes and tablature. In the course of time, a huge amount of material accumulated. Repeated engagements to international guitar courses and festivals, positive feedback from the participants, tributes in the trade press, also the success of my workshop columns in various trade magazines, motivated me to collect and sort this material. An author friend at the time took me to Schott-Verlag. A few years passed until the responsible editor contacted me, saying that I had delivered a remarkable work. It actually took 5 years from the submission of the manuscript to its publication. Since I did everything myself, i.e. author, composer, layout, music notation, image editing, photos, desktop publishing, as it was called at the time, a compact, coherent textbook was actually created, as confirmed by the experts. The two volumes have now been sold worldwide for 15 years and the sales figures are still rising. The great success of the English edition in the USA is gratifying. In the beginning, when Warner Bros. was distributing, it didn't go so well, but since Hal Leonard took over, I can be found almost everywhere at number 1 in the sales charts. Because of this success, my Flamenco School is now being translated into Chinese, or rather Mandarin.
¡anda!: Your flamenco metronome is also very popular. What distinguishes it from other attempts to capture the compás in a really puro way?
GGM: Whether the compás is captured properly "puro" does not depend on my software, it is at most an aid. Probably the magical and mystical part in flamenco is a not insignificant component. But - the forms can be learned, as well as the rhythms. What matters is the approach. Forget the nonsense about "having it in your blood" or "having absorbed it with your mother's milk" - I have taught enough Spaniards, Andalusians, who had just as much problems with the rhythm as non-Spaniards. If I am a "cabeza cuadrada", as the Germans were called back then, I have to deal with it the way I am used to learning. Either I annoy someone who knows palmas to constantly repeat compás patterns (patrones), or I use a machine that does this menial work without grumbling and growling. An important aspect of my software is visual perception. Our attention and concentration is overstrained auditorily anyway, so it is obvious that a multitasking process is distributed to different senses. Whereby a short examination of the flamenco clock (Reloj Flamenco) is needed beforehand, how the palos are assigned to the dial. A third possibility would be, one has been confronted with these rhythms from childhood and an alternating time signature, whether consciously or unconsciously, is the most normal thing in the world for one. But if I am confronted with polyrhythms only at the age of 20, I have a lot of catching up to do and I can choose how fast I get to the desired goal. Now there are some voices that say: Practice in front of the computer? That's too stupid for me. Well - then don't, keep playing "fuera de compás", or look for Palmas slaves. Admittedly you need the computer for that, but this will change in the near future, as soon as the Mobis all have iPhone standard, then my software will run on it. I mean, I use my Mobi as a Compás guardian.
But that the Compás really comes into "flesh and blood" cannot be achieved only with my metronome, or other aids, but can in my opinion only lead to the goal through years of dance accompaniment, even if it is "only" in a dance school. It can also help to listen to rhythms over and over again, preferably combined with harmony or melody sequences. In the early 70s, at the height of jazz-rock, every musician had to know Paul Desmond's "Take Five". But many could only play the rhythm in 5/4 time in conjunction with the bass line. If you try to explain the rhythm of the Bulerías to a jazz musician, he will immediately tell you that this is the rhythm of America from Bernstein's West Side Story. But if you give him a typical chord sequence of the Bulerías, he will have difficulties at least at the beginning - let's not talk about the groove. It's obvious - a jazz musician articulates, phrases differently - and here we are at the topic: beat - rhythm - drive and groove, or aire. Without beat, timing and rhythm, collective music making is not possible. Groove, or aire is the cream on the cake. I have great respect for the Gitanos, the way they play the Bulerías, or even the Southern French the Rumba - and it's not about conditioning, it's really about "llevar algo en la sangre". Every time, after Paco's concerts, we went with him to the then, in the early 80's, hip flamenco club in Stuttgart and Antonio Amador played his paso, Paco was always the one who held his index finger in front of his lips and asked to listen. As is well known, he paid his respect to the Gitanos in "Gitano Andaluces."
¡anda!: If you could turn back time, what experience would you rather do without?
GGM: A car accident in the mid-1980s in which I suffered a fracture of the lumbar vertebrae, which causes great problems today, and a double herniated disc in my cervical vertebrae two years ago, which still paralyzes my fine motor skills, especially in my right hand. It is depressing in the long run to wake up in the morning with numbness in my hands. But the sympathy and recovery wishes of many colleagues and the participants in the hip, English-language forums, including the Paco-de-Lucía forum, has built me up quite a bit, and I hope to get everything back under control through my own initiative, exercise and patience.
¡anda!: What experience would you like to relive?
GGM: The time of the experiments, that is, the beginning of the '70s. The times in Madrid and Málaga. The awarding of the German Education Media Prize in Berlin in 2005.
¡anda!: When and how did the flamenco guitar appeal to you and finally grab you? Was there a key experience? Which one?
GGM: In my rock phase, when I was playing a '63 Strat, I heard an instrument I didn't know in "Oh well" (Part Two) by Fleetwood Mac. I couldn't believe that this riff was played on a "gut string" (nylon string guitar). This sound fascinated me so much that I immediately somehow raised dough to buy my first classical guitar. Then I saw Manitas on TV. I could not believe what he conjured up with his fingers alone on this instrument. If as an electric guitarist you were fixated on the left hand for years, this listening experience opened up completely new worlds: You can replace a complete band with the right hand. At that time Paco was already on tour in Germany with the "Festival Gitano". But he was only noticed by those who attended one of the few concerts in Germany. On the German concert stages one saw mainly solo guitarists like Manitas and Carlos Montoya. Discs by the aforementioned, as well as Los Romeros, the "Kings of Flamenco" appointed by someone, "Spanish Impression" by S. Behrend, were the records available here. At the 2001 shipment I ordered my first semi-flamenco record Pedro Ituralde Quartet with Paco de Lucía. Only later were Paco's solo records available. After hearing Panadero's Flamencos in the original on the Festival-Gitano record, I knew it in different versions by 2 or 3 non-Spanish guitarists, it was clear to me: Aha - that's how it was meant.
¡anda!: How did the decision mature to make a profession out of flamenco? At that time there was very little flamenco in Germany, in contrast to today.
GGM: I'm not sure if you can ever make the decision to make a profession out of an art that has not been officially elevated to an art form, that is, that cannot be studied. It was probably more of an evolutionary thing, where at some point the time comes, or one is of the opinion, that should actually be enough to live. Whereby it is a giant step from a weekend or recreational player to a professional. Especially when you realize after some time that only a small part has to do with "making music", the largest part goes with job creation and moving on the highway.
Yes, admittedly - at that time there were not as many flamenco guitarists as today, but there were probably more guitarists and almost all of them, especially the concert guitarists had "a flamenco" on offer.
¡anda!: What does a normal day of Gerhard Graf-Martinez look like?
GGM: From about 10 o'clock in the morning, I'm ready to go. I have breakfast, read the newspaper, and then the morning is over with correspondence and general information on the Internet. But it is always gratifying every morning to receive emails from someone in LA, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Calcutta or Bahrain who is currently studying with my school, thanking me for my help, or just has a question. After lunch then an hour of walking, alone or with my wife, then an hour of lying down, then from about 4pm onwards I continue. The main time I spend on the Mac. In the evening my wife goes to her studio and when she comes back around 10 p.m. I take a break for one or two hours and then work until 2 or 3 a.m.. Sometimes during a production I work until 4,5 or 6 a.m. Every now and then, after weeks at the computer, I have to start my circular saw again and rebuild or extend something, like renewing the dance floor in my wife's studio, cutting down a tree in the garden, or like today at noon, chopping a solid meter of firewood (let's see how my intervertebral discs are doing the day after tomorrow?). To this daily routine, however, is very crucial that my study, as well as the desk of my wife is here in the house. We are both very grateful for this and are also aware that it is an absolute privilege to have access to each other at any time, to exchange ideas, be it regarding both of our professions, but also to discuss political topics, right here at work, while walking, or eating together, or then sitting in the garden relaxing in the warm season.
¡anda!: Is flamenco primarily a way of life or an art form?
GGM: It depends on the person looking at it. For the performer, it should/could be a way of life, if you know what flamenco and flamenco (adjective) is. For the recipient it can be an art form, but also simple folklore, or tralala, swinging skirts and proud gatos.
¡anda!: What turns you on about flamenco, what turns you off?
GGM: Simplicity (often it looks or sounds simple) coupled with idea and esprit. To be somewhat topical, take the beginning of Esperanza Fernández' "Manolo Reyes". It's simply brilliant. To play it - no problem. To play it like Paco Fernández *) - ?! Or take the stuff Raimundo played on the early Lole y Manuel productions. All relatively simple - but brilliant. Playing it like him?!
Singers like Lole, Esperanza Fernández, La Susi, dancers like Manuela Carrasco (preferably with her husband Joaquin Amador on guitar). Guitarists like Tomate, Moraito, Raimundo and the "boss" I can still watch/listen to for hours.
Aburning are pathetic flamenco stagings - and even worse when guiris try to top this. Or when guitarists are of the opinion that they can just improvise along and despite a hint that it doesn't work that way, succinctly remark that flamenco is 90% improvisation, but don't have a clue that there always has to be an input before the output. Or, if someone calls, signs up for an hour to learn a few tricks. I then suggest that the only trick there is, I can also tell him on the phone - practice.
¡anda!: In which situations would you most like to quit your job or flamenco itself?
GGM: When my hands no longer do what I was used to them doing for a long time.
¡anda!: Which musicians have influenced you in your life and why?
GGM: Hendrix, Clapton, Richards, Lennon, Kottke, Django Reinhardt, Baden Powell, Segovia, Paco de Lucía and Tomate, the charango player Jaime Torres and the zamba specialists from Argentina Los Chalchaleros - to name a few. By whom I was influenced may be judged by others. Out of respect for these personalities I would rather call it influenced. Decisive for me is not always the string artistry, or the high virtuosity of a musician. The tone formation, phrasing and articulation, or the art of arranging, even reduction impresses me more.
¡anda!: Who were your most important teachers and why?
GGM: I didn't have any teachers directly. It was always a kind of gathering. I had to suck everything out of the noses of guitarists in Andalusia. At the beginning of the 80s, I once watched an hour of the then famous guitar course in Córdoba. An assisting guitarist, I think it was Manolo Palma, Pele's guitarist at the time, sat in front of the class, played a falseta and said "Ahora tu" to the third from the right in the second row while the last chord was dying out. That's how guitar playing was passed down in those days. Back to the question. Sure - I should definitely mention Maestro Andrés Batista, who at that time probably had the most idea about flamenco and also made an effort to didactically transmit it. But I learned the most, the better expression would be "to copy", from the guitarists who worked in the Amor de Dios at that time. But also much through the dance, through the dance accompaniment and not to forget, the nightly "learning processes" with the dancers and guitarists in the Candela.
I should also mention, not necessarily as a teacher, more as a friend, Enrique Campos from Málaga, with whom I organized the courses in Marbella in the mid-1980s, who learned toque with Tomate from the legendary Pedro Blanco. But very important, in terms of learning, were my students, course and worshop participants from all the countries where I had the privilege to teach. That's why today I still give private lessons half a day a week, purely for fun, to keep up with the ball.
¡anda!: What throws you off track?
GGM: When my body doesn't want what I'm used to. Know-it-all and spitting in other people's soup.
¡anda!: Was there a phase in your life when you didn't know what to do?
GGM: Yes - when we (my first wife † and my 2 children) were evicted from our apartment at the end of the 1980s and it was absolutely hopeless to find a new place to live as a musician. First, the rent prices here in the Stuttgart region were/are quite high and second, we had little money. Reason for the refusal on the part of the landlord was always the expected noise pollution, or "So - sia send musician? Ond was schaffet'se?" The last resort was to rent an older 10-room villa, with several people, which I then turned into a 3-family house through 3 months of back-breaking work (installing bathrooms and kitchens, knocking out walls and putting in new ones).
¡anda!: What keeps you going?
GGM: My wife - my work. But also putting yourself on the line and getting up once more than you are knocked down was and is my maxim.
¡anda!: How important are friends to you?
GGM: I don't need many, and certainly not at any price.
¡anda!: What do you expect from friends?
GGM: A friendship should not be based on desire.
¡anda!: How do you think your students see you? Do you have any idea?
GGM: How they see me is usually not directly from them after they have been my students. What I then hear about third parties, positive or negative, is always to be taken with a grain of salt. I don't want to equate myself with personalities like Alfred Hrdlicka, but his statement about the phase of a student in which he idolizes his master and then at some point hates him, possibly even sees him as an amateur, would be quite normal behavior. From whom does the wise saying come, I think from Nietzsche: "One rewards one's teacher badly if one always remains his student".
With some of those who really became something, one is active in the New York jazz scene, another studied composition, some became really good guitarists/musicians, I still have contact from time to time, or they call for advice. But the rest were just "students". Some forget who they learned from, others can do everything much better. It's like with colleagues, with the really good ones you get along normally. Others, who carry around the secret of being a genius and are the only ones who know it, exist in every industry. You just have to talk to them and leave them alone.
¡anda!: What is the fascination of flamenco guitar for you individually?
GGM: Until 1990, when my concert and course activities really began, I was the first address here for flamenco guitars. It was not uncommon that guitarreros like Manuel Bellido, Rodriguez etc. visited me. I mean to say that countless instruments passed through my hands and knowledge and competence inevitably accumulated there. Since I was also interested in guitar building, I used to hang around in the Tallers in Granada, Málaga and also built some instruments myself during this time, but only for fun. Unfortunately, I had to give up this affinity due to lack of time. Over the years I developed a two-sided love for the instruments. On the one hand how they sound, on the other hand how they are built. Now aesthetics is not really a buying factor for every instrumentalist, but for me it was always decisive how cleanly a guitar maker works, because a guitar with processing errors was more difficult to sell. I never found carvings and inlays, even the rosette, exciting and never paid much attention to them. Just opening the case of a Blanca, when the unmistakable scent of the cypress wood hits your nose, is a kind of intoxicant, which is completely legal, but just as intensely triggers sensors in the brain, which immediately transfer you virtually to the place where it was built by a master hand. That's why it's not only for me, but also for most guitarists always an overcoming not to immediately strike at every guitar maker, because this instrument is now really the ultimate. But until I got the really good instruments from the renowned guitar builders, several hundred thousand pesetas, soaked in my back pocket, went over the counter, or rather over the workbench.
In the early 90's I quit the trade and in a kind of mental derangement sold all my private guitars, except those built by myself, for several reasons. 1. my favorite Bellido was damaged after a concert, i.e. it was too stupid for me to drive around on the highways with a valuable instrument, 2. every instrument, whether guitar or clamp sounded equally stupid over the amplification systems, PAs, or whatever provided on the part of the organizers, 3. all my great guitars lay at home in the case, or in the showcase and were offended because they were no longer played. This is not a joke - it is indeed the case that instruments return to their original state, unplayed.
But this only lasted a few years, then, as a long-time advocate of granainas, I decided to buy a guitar from Madrid - and here we finally come to the guitar philosophy. One is of the opinion that flamenco guitars can only be built in Andalusia, the other vehemently advocates the Madrid school. Conde, Ramirez, Gerundino, Reyes, Barba, Manuel Bellido - to name the most renowned ones - can be argued about for nights, but it is useless to pick out one and call it the best. First of all, with a guitarist with a distinctive touch, any guitar simply doesn't sound bad, and secondly, a master guitar in master hands? What could be better?! Of course the Estesos have the strongest sound character, in the treble they are unmistakable, just think of the tones on the g-string, or the dry basses, but the Barba of a Raimundo, the Reyes of Vicente, or the Ramirez of Manolo Sanlúcar and, and, and ... are instruments whose possession will probably remain a dream for most guitarists.
¡anda!: Why is Paco de Lucia so important to you?
GGM: He is and remains the "Jefe", there can be 10 more Vicentes. We have him and Tomate to thank for the way flamenco guitar is played today.
¡anda!: What are you looking forward to when you think about the future?
GGM: To work and to the realization of my ideas and visions. In the immediate future, the Chinese edition of my flamenco school.
¡anda!: What scares you when you think about the future?
GGM: Globally - what we are leaving our children and our children's children in terms of climate, genetic engineering and other criminal machinations that are being carried out by a few on this planet on the backs of the entire world population, especially the poor.
Musically, that any kind of music, call it World, Ethno, or otherwise, with the monotonous pulse of a sampled bass drum without emphasis from the 1 to the 4 zugemüllt. In the beginning, the drum machines - our Spanish friends called them "caja de ritmo" - at least elicited a bum-cha-bum-cha, but today all we hear, whether it's Spatzlhuberschürzentäler or Los Marismomentos, is bum-bum-bum-bum.
¡anda!: For a long time you were on the road a lot with your wife Lela de Fuenteprado. But you are no longer to be found on the concert stages?
GGM: That's right - we were on the road a lot, performing in all the major cities in this country, including neighboring countries, so we are satisfied with what we achieved on stage, in the media, or experienced. From the middle of the 90's this crumbled a little, Lela began after her move to Schorndorf intensively with the lessons and finally nothing was more obvious than to open here in the Swabian province a flamenco studio, which runs well to date. I was increasingly busy with my publications and we found that this was more fun than driving for hours in the car across Germany and being separated from the cozy home and our children for days at a time. At the same time we also put on the Flamencotage Schorndorf, which took place every year in spring. We were probably the first here in Germany to offer such an intensive workshop for dance and guitar at the same time, with overlapping lessons, in order to promote mutual interaction and understanding. This method and our way of teaching it was confirmed for almost 10 years by the fact that the courses were always booked out long in advance. Unfortunately, the matter was then also ended by my already mentioned herniated disc.
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