Raphaella SMITS

INSTRUMENTS - Gilbert - Arias - Mirecourt - Roudhloff - Panhuyzen -









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Raphaella Smits Raphaella playing her Gilbert at the Instruments Museum in Brussels (while her Mirecourt and Arias guitars are waiting their turn).

Raphaella Smits

Frequently asked questions:

"Raphaella, how is your eight-string guitar tuned, and why?"

Raphaella: "I do change the tuning of the lower strings according to the pieces I play.
So - for example - to play Bach's second partita for solo violin I would tune it:
e b g d A E D CIS.
On the other hand, to play the thirth lute suite I would tune the same except for string 8 = A. Etcetera.
In this matter I only apply one rule: playability, to come as close as we can get with our instrument to the score and the meaning of the music."

"Raphaella, do you prefer to play on a modern or on a historic instrument?"

Raphaella: "Why limit your freedom as an artist when you can make music on both?
History teaches us that, by definition, the ancient is of no less value than the new. That applies as much to the manufacture of instruments as to literature and the plastic arts.
If occasionally some qualities develop over the years, certain others, equally good, can disappear with time, in spite of having been remarkable."

6, 7 or 8 strings ?
modern or historical guitars ?

It all started for Raphaella Smits when she received at the age of 13, her first guitar: a German Helmut Hanika.

Then, studying at the conservatory, she got a Spanish José Ramirez guitar. Still with 'only' six strings, but that wouldn't last long!

Under the influence of Maestro José Tomàs at the Catedra Andres Segovia in Spain, Raphaella switched to the more versatile eightstring. A José Ramirez again to begin with.

Then, alarmed by her Philippine friend and guitarist Agnes Narciso, Raphaella discovered the instruments of Californian luthier John Gilbert's: it was love at first sight! Raphaella remained loyal to Gilbert ever since.

Recently (2006) Raphaella had made an extra modern eight-string guitar by Canadian luthier Kolya Panhuyzen. The instrument is so easy to play you probably can't find its match.

When Raphaella came across some 19th century jewels, she couldn't resist the challenge.
Thus showed up :
- Vicente Arias (1899, Spanish)
- Mirecourt (1827, French)
- François Roudhloff (1830, French).
All these historic instruments were restored by German luthier Bernhard Kresse.

And so Raphaella discovered that by playing historical instruments, the guitars would reveal the proper approach to the music of their times ...

Or as French musicologist Danielle Ribouillault of the magazine <Les Cahiers de la Guitare et de la Musique> in 2001 described it:
"Raphaella Smits is devoted to the music of the 19th century with enthusiasm and clairvoyance. Beyond the theoretical speeches one understands so well with her how much the old manufacture completely influences the technical approach, the colour of tone and therefore the esthetics of this repertoire. The smaller neck facilitates position changes and authorizes different slurs, leading to another phrasing, a more intimate sound and more clarity, and the absence of certain obstacles authorizes a richer colouring. Fascinating!"

John Gilbert, luthier John Gilbert
Vicente Arias, luthier Vicente Arias
Mirecourt, luthier Mirecourt
Francois Roudhloff, luthier François Roudhloff
Kolya Panhuyzen, luthier Kolya Panhuyzen
D'Addario ... and how about the STRINGS ?

< Last update: 01-VII-2007> < Top of page > Gilbert - Arias - Mirecourt - Roudhloff - Panhuyzen < Subscribe now! >