Towards Overcoming the Guitar's Color Research Gap

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  • Rita Torres Portuguese Catholic University
  • Paulo Ferreira-Lopes School of the Arts of the Portuguese Catholic University



Most (classical) guitar music comes from guitarist-composers. Yet according to guitarists who collaborate with composers, color research on this instrument is better achieved by those who do not play the instrument. Thus the guitar lags behind many instruments in regard to color research. Various reasons can be faulted for the tendency of non-guitarist composers to avoid the instrument. Examples of such reasons may be: the difficulty to write for the instrument, and its weak projection and lack of sustain, all of which are intrinsic to the guitar. This is, however, not the case of the paradigmatic sound for which the instrument is also dismissed, which is rather the legacy of the conservative guitarist Andrés Segovia, who was one of the main promoters of the guitar in the twentieth century. When composers dismiss the guitar for being difficult to write for, collaboration with guitarists has proven fruitful. Given that Segovia's conservatism still prevails among many guitarists, if the sonorous possibilities of the instrument are to be expanded, it is essential that the guitarist is adventurous and has a good arsenal of techniques. New color-research results could entice composers dismissing the guitar for its limitations or its paradigmatic sound to reconsider composing for the instrument. The amplification of sounds with low intensity can be a useful tool to obtain new colors. However, sounds arising from conventional instruments require some caution. It is important to introduce novelty in order to avoid connotation with their respective non-amplified instrument. The technique of multiphonics, which produces sounds of unusual colors, is believed to be a suitable tool when the guitar is amplified with close microphone placement. Through making audible the sounds' components of a lower intensity, this situation would reveal to the audience colors otherwise only heard by the guitarist.


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Biografia do Autor

Rita Torres, Portuguese Catholic University

Candidate of the PhD program in Science and Technology of the Arts of the Portuguese Catholic University. She holds degrees in Chemical Engineering, Guitar, Musicology/Music Informatics, and Composition. More information at

Paulo Ferreira-Lopes, School of the Arts of the Portuguese Catholic University

Professor at the School of the Arts of the Portuguese Catholic University. Invited Professor at the Music Informatics Department of the Karlsruhe University of Music (Germany).




Como Citar

Torres, R., & Ferreira-Lopes, P. (2014). Towards Overcoming the Guitar’s Color Research Gap. Revista Vórtex, 2(1), 16–36.