Monday, May 30, 2011

Passacaglia by Louis Couperin

I've been on haitus these months because I've been looking differently at technique, music, how I play, and how I teach. Part of my search has been to find a more "authentic" sound - one with more complexity and humanity. When I hear the older players that I love, I hear a lot of complexity in the tone - many human "artifacts" if you will. There are numerous elements to this kind of sound, but one of the elements is the use of natural nails.

For 20+ years I have been using fake nails because of a belief that my real nails weren't very good for tone. As it turns out, my natural nails were not as weak as I had assumed, and for the last few weeks I've been developing them for playing. This recording is the first I've done with natural nails and was happy to record on a 1965 Fleta guitar. It is one of my favorite arrangements by the great Andres Segovia.


John Dimick said...

A Fleta! Just add a Segovia arrangement, natural nails, Kevin, and stir. Yields five minutes of old-school poetry.. :-)

Max said...

As a guitarist myself I've always believed that the average person posses nails suitable for playing and that it is a very small minority that do not.

After hearing this I believe you've made the very right choice in playing with your natural nails. Your sound has become substantially more intimate. Well done!

Robert Manuel said...

Amazing sound. When I started my easy guitar lessons I decided to go through the using my natural nails in playing. I can't say if it was better but you just made it sound so amazing. Kudos to you!

Maxzile said...

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I wrote one myself, I hope u like it!

Let me know thank you!

ledhand said...

Absolutely gorgeous tone Kevin. What a pleasure it is to have the opportunity to see and hear you play. An inspiration to a student and lover of guitar, such as myself. I've watched this video a number of times since discovering it yesterday. You succeed wonderfully in your goal of imparting a sense of humanity in your playing here.

Nikola said...

I tried to use the nails, but they wear out quickly. I guess some people have stronger nails that others... Maybe manikir can help me :-) Great sound and playing btw.

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StudioTOB said...

As a guitarist my self I'm playing both fingernails and plectrums. You can really switch fast if you practise. Great playing by the way !

Anonymous said...

Wonderful playing Kevin!!
-james kerr

Anonymous said...

Really wonderful performance! Your tone is so enjoyable! I would love to hear more of your playing! I am so glad you chose to use your natural nails, there is really no substitute for the organic human nail. I too am a classical guitarist and wish you the best!

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Brian said...

I am an amateur classical guitarist and thought I would share the solution I stumbled upon by accident to fix my lousy nails in case Kevin or anyone else reading the blog is frustrated with issues of weak nails and is looking for a possible solution.

Just as an FYI, for the longest time I had the crappiest nails you could imagine. As soon as I had all four right hand nails (pima) up to snuff and nicely shaped and polished, within a week or so one of them would be sure to break - guaranteed. As a consequence I became resigned to assuming I'd forever have to play with one or more artificial nails. (I tried playing with no nails for a while, but just did not like the sound at all compared to the sound with nails.)

Then after suffering through having these lousy nails for years I decided one day to start taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement just for general nutritional purposes as I felt my diet was somewhat lacking in some respects. Had absolutely no thought in my mind at the time that it would make a bit of difference to my nails.

However, a few months after I started taking the supplement, it suddenly dawned on me. That's strange, I haven't broken a nail in quite some time. I don't think I've ever gone this long without a broken nail. Upon careful examination my nails did seem to have become stronger and perhaps even a bit thicker than I remembered them being before.

As time went on my nails remained unbroken and I concluded that it was probably the multivitamin supplement that did it, as the improved sturdiness and strength of my nails only happened after I started taking the supplement and there were no other changes I had made in my diet or my usual nail care practices that I could think of that would possibly account for this change in the durability of my nails.

The supplement I use is from the company KAL, and is called "Enhanced Energy Whole Food Multivitamin". Just for the record I'll make the usual declaration here that I am not affiliated in anyway with KAL and don't stand to profit at all from this recommendation. And to be frank, their Enhanced Energy product did nothing noticeable as far as enhancing my energy, but it did do wonders for my nails.

I've been taking the same supplement for 7 or 8 years now and my nails remain strong and firm. Occasionally one of them will break or tear, but it is definitely an exception now when it does happen. It is no longer a regular occurrence as it was before when I would break one or two nails every month.

One extra note to be aware of. The product comes in two versions one with iron and one labeled as "Iron Free" It is generally recommended that, unless your doctor or health care professional recommends otherwise, men and post menopausal women take the product that is Iron Free. They are possibly at risk of storing too much iron in their bodies which can lead to a condition known as iron overload and serious illnesses might follow.

So if you have weak nails or someone you know is complaining about week nails my recommendation would be to try the KAL Enhanced Energy supplement for a couple of months and see if it makes a difference. The recommended dosage on the bottle is 3 tablets per day, but as a rule I only take 2 per day, one with breakfast and one with dinner, and I love my nails.

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