Art And Physics Combine In Online Concert

May 21, 2020
Bruce Paine will play just for you

Bruce Paine’s online concert not only features his playing; the guitarist filmed it, recorded it, and wrote most of the music too. By RICHARD BETTS.


Bruce Paine will play just for you

These are tough times for performing musicians. With most venues shut, top Kiwi classical guitarist Bruce Paine has taken matters into his own hands, recording a full concert and making it available as a pay-per-view programme online for the very reasonable price of $10.23.

For the concert, Paine plays a selection of Catalan folk tunes by composer-performer Miguel Llobet (1878-1938), an important figure in the early development of the classical guitar. These short pieces are core repertoire, and many of them will be known even to non-guitarists. Paine’s performance of ‘El Mestre’ (‘The Teacher’) is particularly beautiful.

Bruce Paine’s concert is online for a short time only

In many ways, though, the rest of the concert is more interesting. It features Paine’s own compositions, and he says that these days he expends as much energy writing guitar music as playing it.

In 2019 a CD was released on the Naxos label, comprised solely of Paine compositions. The guitarist on that album is Gunter Herbig, who as well as being another senior local guitarist, was Paine’s teacher and mentor when he completed a music performance degree at Auckland University.

Paine offers two of the works that appear on Herbig’s CD, ‘Waitemata Reverie’, a substantial piece inspired by Auckland’s seascape and the people who left the city to join the fighting in WWI; and the percussive miniature ‘Tarakihi’, based on a Maori folk song. For that piece Paine slipped a hair clip between the strings to create a cicada-like buzzing effect, an idea suggested by Herbig.

An album of Bruce Paine compositions

“Originally I used a plastic coffee bonus card for selective effects,” Paine explains, “but I found holding the card while playing unreliable.” It’s a Number 8-wire solution, but for a guy recording alone in his house, Paine’s concert has a professional look and sound.

Paine has worked like this before. He’s recorded seven albums, including one in his home where he had mattresses and blankets covering the walls. However, in a previous life, he was a computer boffin, and for his current recital, he employed three cameras and a pair of Rode NT2 microphones.

“I’m comfortable around gear,” he allows. “A recording is partly art and partly an understanding of the physics. I’m more on the art side but I’ve learnt a few things along the way.”

Bruce Paine performs live in your lounge. Sort of…

As well as a decent selection of a/v recording equipment, Paine uses five guitars for his recital, one by Australian luthier Simon Marty and four from respected Auckland maker Rod Capper. Two of Capper’s guitars are modelled on instruments by great luthiers of the past, Louis Panormo and Antonio Torres.

“The Torres copy is special,” says Paine. “It has kauri decoration, and that wood came from old scraps of roofing tiles that were once part of [Mt Albert historic homestead] Alberton.”

Paine has performed often at Alberton, so it’s a nicely circular touch. With the pandemic, he has no upcoming concerts, so catch this one while you can.

* Bruce Paine: Guitar From Two Worlds screens until 10 June. Tickets cost $10.23 and are available from




Richard Betts is an award-winning writer and editor. His musings on pop culture, the arts and technology have appeared in numerous publications including the New Zealand Herald, Tone, PC World and Top Gear magazine. Three of those no longer exist but he insists it’s not his fault.

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