An Evening With


Royal Agricultural University


Some reflections: by Boo Vernon

Craig Ogden gave a superb performance at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester on July 2nd. And, as usual, he presented each piece to us with entertaining pearls of wisdom.

For the two early pieces (Lachrimae Pavane & Fantasia No 7: John Dowland, and Lute Suite no.2: Bach) he explained some playing differences between the lute and the guitar. The two instruments have similar dynamics and volume potential but the lute had a shorter neck. Consequently Ogden uses a capo on fret 2 thus the fret distance on the guitar neck is not so great. And with the 6th string tuned down to D the piece had a brighter sound. In addition the G string is tuned down to F#. He exaggerated the difference between tone qualities by RH position.

He talked about the need to re-tune between pieces, and having to over-compensate ie. if you have flattened a string you will need to over-sharpen it later, because the string will want to migrate back during the next piece. He changes his three bass wound strings weekly for a brighter sound.

Ogden mentioned that piano works by Spanish composers are pleasantly suited to the guitar (he played Spanish Dance : Granados, and Torre Bermeja & Sevilla: Albeniz) and yet piano works by composers from other countries and styles are not as effective.

He explained how to do a crush barree with the end joint of the LH 1st finger, though his demonstration wasn’t very successful! So he made a joke!

He gave lots of tips about shaping finger nails using 200 quality fine sandpaper. And he is delighted with his £20,000 Greg Smallman guitar (like John Williams). He hopes this one will not be stolen……….

His programme was varied, including Grand Overture: Giuliani, and Lough Caragh and Rodeo Rodeo: Ryan; and lovely arrangements of Here Comes the Sun: Harrison, and Yesterday: Lennon/McCartney.

He did confess to finding music memorisation more difficult since having children – the luxury of devoting practice time to repetition involving aural, visual and finger memory, as well as having a less-alert brain! Living in the Cotswolds, he had collected his daughter from a hobby class before the concert, so she was in the porch listening to some (own choice) music through large ear-phones. I think that he’s a very personable Ozzie guy - not to mention an amazing musician who is making an immense contribution to classical guitar education in the UK!