Hi. My name is Robert Ramsey, and I’m a production designer in Glendale.
I’ve played guitar since I was 10 years old, and I’d like to share some sources of inspiration that have been valuable to me in my development as a musician. I was largely self-taught when I first moved to LA, but I really wanted to learn the guitar properly, as an instrument. The guys that got the most out of the guitar – in my opinion – were the classical players. They could play a bass line, harmony and melody all at the same time. I wanted to learn how to do that.
So one of the first things I did was to find a teacher. I got lucky. My teacher was a guy named Dean Suzuki. I studied with Dean for seven years. He has since moved on to the faculty at San Francisco State. Dean is a great teacher and I learned a lot from him.
One of the most interesting experiences in my musical education was attending master classes. I never performed in a master class. I knew that I would be too nervous to be able to play well, but the master class format allows people to sit in and observe. I saw almost all of the great players give master classes. Segovia, Julian Bream, etc. It was a really cool thing to do. These guys are all very restrained in their concerts, and you do not get a sense of what these people are like. But it is SO different in the master class setting. You really get a sense of the person, and you cannot help but be impressed by the seriousness of purpose behind these personalities. I’m not sure if I’m writing this accurately. They were very serious about music, but they weren’t very serious about most other things. They told jokes and stories, and the best of them gave a criticism that was sympathetic to the struggles that everybody goes through when they try to do something well. It was an amazing experience.
So that is my suggestion. If you want to learn to do something, find someone who already does it well and try to spend some time with them. Try to absorb something from them. Chances are they have some gift beyond the obvious.
I don’t play classical anymore. For the past ten years or so I have played Brazilian jazz on a nylon string guitar. There aren’t any regular venues that feature this music in LA, but all the great Brazilian players come through town at some point. Brazil is a country that is crawling with amazing guitar players. I think this is because here, in the US, a lot of homes have a piano. That is the favored instrument in the US. But in Brazil, not many can afford a piano, so they all have guitars. And many of them learn to play really well.
Here are some big names and clips
Rafael Rabello. The song starts after a long intro:
Rabello is dead now. Drug overdose. Never saw him play.
I think I saw Bellinati play once in South America. He was backing up
Guinga is probably the best living composer in Brazil now. I saw him at
Disney Hall a couple of years ago. He’s completely unknown in Brazil.
Marcus Tardelli (a complete animal on the instrument):
He’s playing a piece by Guinga here. I’m not sure I want to
see him play. He’s the kind of player who, after you’ve seen him,
you think, “why bother?”
Last but not least, one of my faves, Marco Pereira:
I got a bunch of sheet music from him, but haven’t seen him in person.
There are tons more….