An interview with David Russell
About your trip in China
・Welcome to China again，how do you feel about this trip?
My wife and I were looking forward very much to this journey and we enjoyed the time in China enormously. Both from a guitaristic point of view and also as travellers we met many new and old friends. We were able to visit exciting cities, play in beautiful concert halls, hug a Panda bear, taste many delicious foods, etc.
・Do you want to have more tours in China in the next decade?
Yes, I hope to return in the next few years. Ten years between visits is too long.
・What do you want to say to your Chinese Fans and Chinese players?
I would like to say thank you for making this visit so special. I am very impressed by the enthusiasm that I saw in China for the classical guitar. Also there are many young chinese guitarists playing vey well. This is very encouraging for the guitar world in China.
About your guitar career
・You’ve played all around the world and may be the most active classical guitar master in the 21st century, so what’s the different between the current classical guitar playing and the last decade’s playing ?
The guitar has always been a very international instrument that reaches people from many different backgrounds. This has been our advantage. The young guitarists will build their careers in an even more international field. The growth of the classical guitar in the orient will be an important part of their playing careers.
・We haven’t seen your new album for a long time. Is the only reason the internet? What do you about people downloading them on the internet?
I have been very fortunate to be able to record a new CD almost every year for a large portion of me career. The CDs have helped me develop my musical personality. Recording and touring at the same time is very stressful and requires a lot of effort, so I'm happy to have a small rest from recording. I am enjoying all the travels for the concerts.
・As a guitarist you are very successful. What’s your plan in the future? And what about your guitar career？
There are still many new places to go, many new pieces of music to play. My wife and I try to go to at least one new country each year. I also try to learn a new program of music each year.
・Is your concert guitar freely provided by Dammam guitar company?
Matthias Dammann is the builder of my guitar, it is not a guitar company. He builds very few guitars every year. For me he is the best maker as his guitar gives me the possibility to do what I want with the music. I have been friends with Dammann for many years. Out of respect for his wonderful work I will always pay for the instruments I use.
About guitar music
・How do you feel about the modern technology in the music/guitar industry?
There are many improvements in technology that can help us play in large halls. The development of better amplification is a very positive factor for us. There are other improvements in some components such as our strings. They are now always without defects so they hold their intonation all the way up the fretboard.
Having said that, the guitar is still built of organic materials, woods which are always different so the careful judgement of the artesanal guitar builder is very important.
・How do you feel about the Contemporary Works of the classical guitar? Why there are only a few of them in your list?
I have chosen to play one or two contemporary works each year. I have quite a few pieces which I will be playing in the next years. There are many exciting new works being written for guitar in the last years and this is, of course, very beneficial for the instrument and the guitar players.
・In this modern world, what do you think about the classical guitar in the future? Are you full of confidence?
The future is good. It will have to be developed by all the young players that are now starting their careers. Each of them will have to work on building the popularity of our instrument.
・Do you think the techniques and the skills of playing will be developed in the future? In other words, what changes will take place to classical guitar, for example, the changing style of playing or combination with other music style?
I am sure that the most important thing for the musician is the personality with which they perform the music. It is necessary to have a well developed technique and guitaristic skills but that is only the start. If the player doesn’t have charisma and personality they will not be able to excite their audiences. The repertoire will also be developed as each player discovers new works or gives life to older music.
Your advice to young players
・What do you think about guitar competition for young players? When will be suitable for them to take part in a competition from the beginning of learning?
Competitions can be a great help for the development of a young player. The winner of a competition can use it to become better known and project their career. Competitions are not suitable for everyone. I know many good players who are wonderful sensitive musicians but perhaps are not cold blooded enough for competitions. It is not the only route to becoming a well known guitarist.
・How to keep the interest of playing guitar and enhance the confidence of playing guitar for an amateur？
Perhaps it is important for an amateur to have the right repertoire to keep them excited and interested. The work of the teacher is to find the music that keeps the interest. This applies to the amateur and also to the young students.
・As we all know，your tone of playing guitar is very beautiful. We want to know how to trim the fingernails exactly，can you give us an answer with authority？
We all have such different shaped fingers and fingernails that I think there are many ways to shape the nails that work. I choose a shape that makes it possible to pluck the string in such a way that the guitar will ring. It is important to have a very smooth nail tip, polishing it with fine sandpaper. One way to find out is to move the nail very slowly over the string as if to play. If you feel any roughness, that must be corrected. It is also important to have the same sound on the three fingers.
After these necessities it is then up to the player to choose the right moment for each sound or tone. I use the sound in the same way we use our voice to speak… If you are going to say something sweet you use a sweeter voice and if you are angry you change to the voice that expresses the anger. In our music we can do the same.
During your trip to China, we saw you played Altamira guitar at the end of concerts. Was it arranged by sponsor or only your choice? And Why did you choose this guitar? Would like to share some experience of using this guitar with fans? What's the different between this guitar and the guitar you used in concert (Mattias Damman )?
I played the guitar of the sponsors because I offered to. It was my choice and I enjoyed playing the guitar by Altamira. It is a fine guitar and many people clapped loudly when I announced that I would play a guitar made in China for a few pieces. Of course I am used to playing my own guitar by Dammann but it is also interesting to experiment with different guitars.
Thanks a lot for you to answer these questions. Cheers.