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Next message Bill D posted on Thursday, 01 December, 2005 - 10:42 pm
Actually, the 'Caruso 2000' CD was a bit naff. However, it showed just what can be done.

A lot of distortion is due to clipping (the peaks of the musical waves getting clipped becuase they are to load for the recording medium). Modern software interpolates what the peaks should be so Caruso's voice ends up sounding louder and standing out from the background. (Noise reduction takes it even further.)

The best example of this on a British label is Dutton Laboratories but they told me they have no plans to branch into historical guitar recordings. Pity.

If anyone is interested in just what can be done to clean up old and new recordings, have a look at

I found it fascinating (although my son thinks it's sad).
Next message Tim posted on Thursday, 01 December, 2005 - 11:42 pm
Anyone straying onto this page by accident will probably expect this to be about the Ford Caruso 2000 GT... hope they're not disappointed!

I can understand why Dutton aren't rushing into historical guitar recordings. I guess there weren't that many guitarists on 78s - Barrios, Segovia, Llobet, possibly a Sainz de la Maza or two... Any process (CEDAR, Nimbus supergun or whatever) is reliant on being able to source originals where the intended sound isn't completely destroyed. I suspect from this point of view that Barrios 78s are rarer than Segovia.

I realise Dutton have different commercial considerations than major labels ('this Barrios guy... will he duet with Charlotte Church as promo for his own stuff? will Asda sell him?'). But sadly when Sony don't consider a DVD of the Seville Concert worthwhile, would a Dutton re-mastering of Llobet be viable.

Still we can live in hope. Christopher Nupen's Segovia and Bream's Guitarra have re-surfaced on DVD. So maybe a Seville Concert DVD and a Barrios CEDAR restoration on Santa's list for 2008...

Your son thinks this is sad... Mine have put a Homer Simpson poster above the computer - 'If it's hard it's not worth doing'.
Next message Bill D posted on Friday, 02 December, 2005 - 07:44 pm
There are some Barrios and Llobet 78s still around and both were put onto CD and released on Chanterelle. Some of the Barrios' stuff was also released on Rico Stover's own label.

The first release of the Chanterelle Barrios CDs (which I have) was terrible but I am assured that they have been cleaned up considerably and are now enjoyable musically, not just a historical curiosity.

Strangely, the re-release has fewer tracks. Maybe some just couldn't be cleaned up enough.

I don't think it is simply a question of cost-effectiveness or profit for Dutton. I think they aren't interested. As with lots of other specialist labels, I wonder how some of them make any money. I bought my Dad some Galli-Curci on Prima Voce. They were so hard to get hold of, I wonder how many they would sell.
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 12:57 pm
The economics of many classical CD labels no doubt create for interesting accountancy. I'm sure Dutton are partly driven by personal enthusiasms, hence the lack of enthusiasm for guitars.

A bizarre example of enthusaisms in classical CD is the case of obscure English symphonists like Robert Simpson and Havergal Brian. A major funder of CDs by those composers has been the Grateful Dead.

And Ted Perry of Hyperion (another company short of guitars) doubled company directorship and mini-cabbing.
Next message Bill D posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 04:06 pm
Hyperion suffered badly when they tried to release an album of early music. I forget the composer.

The guy who edited the score for them turned round and said that this was a new arrangement (i.e., his copyright) so he was entitled to royalties. He took Hyperion to court and they lost. The narrow profit margins meant that they would lose money on the CD so they didn't release it, after having paid for the recording sessions.

Now lots of fans are donating to the label to keep it going.
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 07:00 pm
Actually Hyperion did release the CD of music by Lalande ('Music for the Sun King') to good reviews. They've now deleted it.

Their problems weren't so much the original judgement, but the legal costs of the appeal. There are some suggestions that the late Ted Perry's son Simon pressed on with the appeal out of family loyalty. Also there are suggestions that the performers had not properly advised Hyperion about the use of a new performing edition. Let's hope Hyperion survive (and when they do, add some guitarist to their catalogue).

The whole thing makes me cynical about the law - it seems the main function of the law is to provide large incomes and expensive lifestyles for lawyers. A case like this should never have come to court: it's said the elderly academic who'd done the transcriptions would have been happy originally for an arranger's fee.

Mind you, it's nothing new. Whistler won his libel case against Ruskin over 'paint slung against canvas'. The damages of one farthing without costs gave him no cause to celebrate.
Next message Bill D posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 07:59 pm
OK, got some of the details a bit garbled. Working from a senescent memory.

Just been checking out the story at

Very interesting and helpful website!
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 10:57 pm
It does of course take two to tango (or have a law-suit). For an alternative view tahe a look at but do check the laws on copyright before you repeat anything you read there.

I'm just an ordinary bloke who enjoys a variety of music, so I'm with Hyperion on this one. But all those recordings that tell you it's the guitarist's own edition of Bach's Chaconne - I think they must live in fear of a registered letter arriving at the record company's office.
Next message Bill D posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 11:35 pm
Mr* Sawkin's protestations seem, at first reading, a tad contrived but I will have to read further. (More than I feel up to at 23.32 on a Sat. evening!)

*I'll concede his 'Dr' title when I find out what his doctorate is in. Mine is in molecular biology!*

However, it is interesting that he hired the late, notorious Carter-Ruck (known to 'Private Eye' readers as 'Carter-F*ck').

C-F also tried (unsuccessfully) to sue the Eye. (The Curse of Gnome strikes again!)

Interesting that he won this case when other results suggested less than stellar abilities (at least according to Private Eye).
Next message Tim posted on Sunday, 04 December, 2005 - 10:13 am
I think his doctorate's probably kosher. Some people like to believe a PhD in the the physics of smoke and mirrors is worh more than a PhD in the sociology of smoke and mirrors - well that's just opinion.

The reconstruction of baroque music is obviously a minefield. I was looking at a review of Weiss lute concerti on Chandos where the orchestral parts were reconstructed from the surviving solo part - I hope the Couzens have the copyright sorted out and don't get a nasty surprise.

It gives a whole new twist to 'I fought the law and the law won'.
Next message Bill D posted on Sunday, 04 December, 2005 - 10:33 pm
I was being flippant about the doctorate although the low value of some is not a matter of opinion. It is possible to obtain a genuine, validated Ph.D., by correspondence, from certain transatlantic establishments.

A Ph.D. should be awarded on the basis of extended, original, serious research. Some aren't. Musicology is a perfectly valid area for research although some scholarly topics seem unecessarily obscure. They are a bit like my brother's searches for old Irish folk songs. If anyone he knows has heard of them, he is probably disappointed!

My Ph.D. involved research into the mechanisms involved in tooth decay and I am comfortable that it was a contribution to the welfare of humanity.
Next message Tim posted on Sunday, 04 December, 2005 - 10:50 pm
If I can find one, I'll ask an NHS dentist about that one!

This correspondence business with transatlantic organisations makes getting a Ph.D. sound like hard work. A former senior figure in my own profession decided all she needed to do was add it to her CV without consulting the University named... (I did say former).

Anyway back to guitarists. Martin Taylor is very proud of his (honorary) doctorate.
Next message Bill D posted on Monday, 05 December, 2005 - 09:17 am
A certain famous author/former MP/convicted perjurer claimed (in his Who's Who bio, I think) that he had been to Cambridge. Turned out that he did attend a polytechnic in Cambridge but didn't pass the course.

BTW, apologies for my last message. Looks a bit pompous.

Anyway, nothing wrong with an honorary degree. It is awarded legitimately, as opposed to paying a fee and submitting a few pieces of coursework by post. Like a well-known TV nutritionist. Or a well-known clergyman-politician.

JW must have a few honorary degrees by now. Richard Sliwa would know. Where is he anyway? Been awful quiet lately.
Next message Tim posted on Monday, 05 December, 2005 - 01:28 pm
Even honorary doctorates aren't what they were - George Best received his to recognise his contribution to football almost 30 years after he stopped playing. William Roche (if you don't know, he's the Street's Ken Barlow) received his honorary MA after 40 years of soap-life.

Many universities have quotas of honorary degrees they need to award. Criteria include will they be available on the required date to receive it, will they be sufficiently flattered to accept (and not reject it because it's not from one of the top 10 / 50 / 100 universities), will the union of students stage a protest outside the award. Some Universities even expect them to be able to string a couple of sentences together for the acceptance speech.

Absolutely no doubt that JW deserves his. Somewhere I've seen him criticised for a lack of commitment to teaching so there's probably some would begrudge it. I wouldn't.

Don't know about RS - I don't think I've seen him post since I discovered his sites.
Next message Richard posted on Sunday, 16 July, 2006 - 12:53 am
Isn't "thread drift" interesting? :-)

Start point: the value of historical recordings
End point: the value of honorary PhDs :-)

I had to re-read the thread just to get an idea of how the one had become the other.

However, returning to the topic (which itself was off-topic at the start of this particular topic)... (!)

JW has several Hon. PhDs to his name, including at least the RAM, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester Unis (plus the aforementioned Southampton) in the UK alone. Plus a few Aussie ones, and knowing 'merkin universities, a shedload from them.

And y'know what, JW doesn't give a toss about any of them. He's genuinely far too modest to consider them of great value to himself (although he is honoured to have been considered). The one honour which surprises me the most is his OBE - given his political views for a start, I'd've expected him to turn it down.

As for teaching, I get the impression from stuff he's said that JW doesn't teach regularly simply because he doesn't consider himself to be a good teacher.

To be honest, most professional musicians need to teach simply because they can't make enough money from performing. JW makes far more money than he can possibly need from his recording and performing career, so it comes down to whether he feels himself adequate to the task or feels he has something to add.

I'm sure that a great many of the music world's "big names" who do so take pupils or masterclasses simply because it gives them an opportunity to grandstand. And this is something JW certainly does NOT desire.

In the CG world, Segovia is perhaps a case apart, as for all the pedagogical faults for which some of his former students care to berate him, he was creating a new forum for the instrument and needed to create a "school". I think it's interesting that JW dissociated himself from that "school" as soon as his career permitted it, choosing to hook up with Julian Bream or other non-"Segovian" musicians.

Sure, some of the big(ger) names in the current CG world hold down teaching positions apart from performing (especially, it seems to me, most of the Americans) while probably not needing the money, and JW is probably in a minority in that respect. However, where he's also in a minoty, whenever he does run (master)classes, they are invariably about ensemble playing, sometimes with other guitarists, but often with other musicians.

One of the ironies of life is that many (most?) of JW's detractors decry in him a lack of "musicality" (start online with anything by Kent Murdick, AKA Luteman), while JW decries exactly this lack in most guitar students, who appear (to him at least) to inhabit a fairly closed world and in his oft-stated experience, don't know how to play with other musicians at an advanced level. Something JW goes on at length about whenever given the opportunity is guitarists' lack of sight-reading skills of standard notation, which is generally considered the most basic skill for most other instrumentalists. This, he's said often enough, is one of the reasons why he doesn't publish his own arrangements.

Anyway, to finish: why should he teach if he doesn't want to?

(Incidentally, I would love to know more about the circumstances of his departure from the RAM post which had been created especially for him after he'd been asked to create a guitar department from scratch - remembering of course, that his own RAM degree is in piano, of all instruments!)

(O/t: my last post for tonight; I'm making my way down the threads chronologically and have barely scratched the surface - I hope to be back for more in the afternoon!)
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