Below is an email I received personally from legendary Australian guitarist/composer Phillip Houghton while I was researching him and his music. Phillip has an idiosyncratic way of writing with regards to spacing and layout, so I’ve kept it basically unedited. I’ll just let it speak for itself, hope you enjoy!
“In simplistic terms , regarding phrasing on the guitar , and how it influences interpretation and style , i like to think of "the big three" :
* RHYTHM : time , tempo , momentum , rubato , rit & accel , etc
* COLOUR : texture , timbre , tone quality , thin/thick , grains , etc
* DYNAMIC : volume , loudness , cresc/decresc , accents , etc
There are hundreds of other things , but for me , they're the big three. The guitar is very good at these things ; very responsive .
Regarding rhythm and especially rubato : i am aware of this when i write my music notation . I write rubato into the actual note values and rests , etc . Also , with this in mind , i'm really into what i call micro-rubato ( small-scale , between notes , almost imperceptible to the ear , more about "in the moment" ) and macro-rubato ( large-scale , between long sections , almost imperceptible to the ear , more about design and "destination" ) .
Neither interrupt the momentum of the music , but work to enhance the over-all design , architecture , style and emotion of the music ... by the crushing/releasing or the pushing/withholding of the "gravity" of momentum . Elastic . Morphing . Sculpted .
These qualities can also apply to colour and dynamic : the way we use gradations or shocks , so as to phrase , choreograph and design the character and style of what's in the score , as we get to know it , feel it , and explore possibilities . It's all about timing and to what degree we want to take things . Of course , things can also be made very perceptible to the ear ! , like a pie in the face !
But how far we can take things depends on our technique , which is us ( ourselves ) and how we can adapt to the hundreds of techniques that are possible on the guitar , and to those we have yet to find , incorporate , and make music with .”
Dr. Daniel Nistico is a passionate performer, author and educator who specializes in the performance practice of 18th and 19th century guitar music. Daniel's teaching and research aims to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician, with emphasis on topics like harmony that can lead to deeper musical understanding and provide tools for composing and improvising.