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The Dilemma of the Sound

The Dilemma of the Sound

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12/03/2009

The dilemma of the sound in guitar

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by Emilio Pujol The scientific definition of the sound. The timbre in the loudness. Differences of timbre in each instrument. Factors that take part in the appreciation of the sound. Directions that have determined their classification. Dilemma of the sound in guitar. The musician who anxious to know the most intimate secrets his art looked for in scientific books a satisfactory definition of the sound, would finish disturbed before the mobilization of numbers and words which they have been necessary to leave without still needing, which only to the spirit is to him possible to perceive. Those books say learned to us that the sound is something produced by the vibrations of a body in an average elastic through as it propagates in sound waves and that their timbre, intensity and amount of vibrations per second are extremely variable. Certain that all that must be; but something more also, because of our conscious sensitivity and that nonfigure in those scientific definitions, reasoned and you cold. A something more than includes from most insignificant to most transcendental for our spirit. A something more than the genius of the man can transform into immaterial element of a world wonderful and fantastic, able to confortar the soul like conforta to the body a sun ray. The faculty to hear that it is to us own puts under the sound as much diversity of appreciations as differences of physical nature and moral they exist between the listeners. To listen is to concentrate in the ear all our sensitivity, sensitivity that differs in each individual according to its temperament, illustration or criterion. The listener perceives simultaneously with the sound, his particular timbre (what Helmholtz called the color of the sound), surrounding in a single unit his elevation, intensity and duration. The timbre is really the characteristic of each sound; it is what the color to the object, the perfume to the flower, the form to the body it is enough to consider the importance that, separately, has in the orchestra each instrumental group and the particular timbre of each instrument. In the harmonic set, each group represents a determined , subdivided element in so many sonorous individualities as types of instruments form the group. No of these instrumental groups offers as much variety of timbres as the one of the pressed stringed instruments, to cause of its diversity of forms, sizes, thickness and quality of cords and different procedures in being put in vibration. The timbre can be good, bad, or better worse, according to the valuation that gives the critical sense him of that appreciates it. As this appreciation depends, between thousand causes, of auditory and touching sensitivity, sugestionabilidad, musical and intellectual , prejudices or force customary, good sense of criterion and conditions even separate education, general order of that judges it, the classification of the timbre or the sound, can vary to the infinite. Nevertheless, within the relative concept a predominant classification exists that tends to be considered like definitive. This is the resultant of a series of suffrages of superior capacity, inspired by the principles of an aesthetic one long sifted and defined by the most severe public, the best ones schools, the best interpreters and the most eminent creators for all time.

This sense is the one that has prevailed in the consecration of voices like those of famous singers GRASSINI, Jenny LYND, Adelina PATTI, the MELBA; the two famous GAYERRE, CARUSO, CHALIAPIN, etc.; the same one that is you consolidate the superiority of the STRADIVARI, AMATI and GUARNERI in the arc instruments; BLUTHNER, BECHSTEIN, PLEYEL, ERARD and STEINWAY on the other marks of pianos; PAGES, BENEDID, RECIO, ALTAMIRA and TORRES in the guitars, and are he himself sense that takes care of to weigh each artist in its particular sound. Of all you known instruments, no will have offered surely matter of as much hesitation and discussion between its followers, like the guitar by the possibility that offers to be pressed of two different ways, with the nail and the yolk of the fingers. The timbre of the cord changes sensibly according to the used procedure and as the possibility does not fit for same fingers of including both procedures, the guitarist must adopt one of both: of there the dilemma. Preferences of timbre in the Antiquity. The Vihuelistas and laudistas of centuries XVI and XVII. Dilemma of the pulsation in the guitarists of century XVIII. The theories of WATERED DOWN SISTER and of. Possible determining causes. From the most remote times it comes provoking and controversial enthusiastic dilemma of the sound. For the guitarist, the sound constitutes a dogmatic question of as much importance as it can be for a moralist in faith feeling. The peculiar thing is, that, through aesthetic sense - almost always intuitive or inherente to each partisan of a determined timbre, an outline of personal espiritualidad could be deduced. Each preference supposes a divergent direction, leading to opposed purposes diametrically. During the Greek civilization, the preferences oscillated between the sound of the cord pressed with the fingers and the one that was produced by means of plectro. PLUTARCO refers in their Apothegmi Laconiciâ that in certain occasion was punished a citarista to have pressed the cords with the fingers and not with the prong during the celebration of a ritual ceremony in a temple of Esparta. Without embargo, the cords pressed with the fingers - a sound rather more delicate and pleasant adds to PLUTARCO producen. ATHENIAN, 300 years A. C., speaking of EPIGONO says: he was one of the great teachers of music; ace prudent with the fingers pressed, without plectra. ANACREONTE and ARISTOTLE also considered superior the sound of the cords pressed with the fingers (To see Precursors of the violin family. Kathleen SCHLESINGER, P. 56.). Some applied the pulsation procedure to the character of music that they interpreted. In Elegia de TRIBULO, poet of first century A. C. (Book III), it says to you: and accompanying in the thick partition wall and pulsation to him the cords with plectro by ivory sang one cheers melodÃa with well stamped sonorous voice and; but later, sweetly pressing the cords with the fingers, it sang these sad words. VIRGILIO in short, says in the Eneida (Book I SAW, v. 647) There they dance also in circles, intoned a festive song; the Traciano bard with his long and floating adornments, accompanies the rythmical song with his thick partition wall by seven cords pressing either with the fingers, or with plectro of ivory.

The preferences between the stringed instruments in the Average Age inclined advantageously in favor of which they were touched with the fingers or the arc. The Arcipreste de Hita described as chillones or gritadores the stringed instruments of rough loudness water and. FUENLLANA, in their Orphenica Lyra, when speaking of redobles1, says: Hurting with the nails it is imperfection What they redouble with the nail they will find facility in which they will make but nonperfection. Soon it adds: It has great excellence hurting the cords with blow without touch nail nor another way of invention, because in single finger, as of alive thing the true spirit consists, who hurting the cord usually occurs to him. Vincenzo GALILEI, talking about in his Dialogue to the espineta, the virginal and other metallic stringed instruments, says that they offend the ear greatly; not only for being its cords of such condition, but by the hard object, as it is the prong, whereupon put in vibration. It frankly prefers the instruments with cords of gut with are laud, the guitar or the viola, whose loudness is produced by the direct bonding of the fingers or the arc (Sees Giuseppe BRANZOLI: Ricerche sullo studio of liuto. Delle corde metalliche. Rome 1889. P. 53.) In century XVII, time in which the favor by the handle instruments and pressed cords marked its esplendoroso apogee, the English Thomas CHURNS, in summary in his valuable treaty The Music's Monument the technique that locks up the art of its illustrious predecessors John and Robert ROSSETER, MORLEY, CAVENDISH, COOPER, MAYNARD (Them Luthistes. Lionel of LAURENCE. Paris. 1929.) and others, as well as the one of own production, it nobly defended the cause of the good sound with these words: rtase that the cords will not have to be attacked with the nails, since some do, trying that this one is the best way to press; I do not create it thus, because of which the nail, cannot obtain from laud a as pure sound as the one that can produce the soft and fleshy part of the extremity of the finger. I confess that accompanied from other instruments enough good can be, since the main quality of laud that is the smoothness. it is lost in the set; but single, never I have been able to obtain a so satisfactory result of the nails as of the yolks of the fingers. The treaties of guitar appeared until aims of century XVIII do not stop to give explanations nor express preferences on the loudness; they leave the sense of the timbre to the free will of the executant. To only start off of the moment at which the guitar appears mounted with six simple cords, it is when the two tendencies are pronounced categorically. AGUADO, GIULIANI, CARULLI and others, used and recommended the nail, while SOR, CARCASSI, MESSONIER and others also, prohibited it. How to know the cause of their preferentes. Could simply be sufficient justification attributing them to the aesthetic sense of each teacher? Would be in them some force of atavism? AGUADO and SOR and is most explicit on the matter. In no and the biographical commentaries of SOR, consist that it had never pressed with nails. In its Method - in which the analyzed and reasoned fundamental theories of their technique are explained clearly –

it declares that to imitate the nasal loudness of the Oboe, very it not only attacks the cord about the bridge , but that bends the fingers and only uses the little nail that it has to attack it: It is the only case - it adds - in which I have believed to be able to serve to me as them without disadvantage. I have never been able to support a guitarist who touched with nails. It respects the AGUADO pulsation solely of, in grace to its shining execution: Precise Era that the AGUADO technique of had the excellent qualities that it has - says SOR to be able to pardon the use to him of the nails. Of Course, Myself would had renounced to them if he wouldn’t had reached so many agility, besides is to late to change those fingers adapted to its form of life. So soon it heard AGUADO some of my works studied them, requesting advice to me on its interpretation; but, too young then I to allow me the right to correct a teacher of its celebrity, specially for my music, conceived in a espiritualidad different from that was inspired the guitarists generally of then. To the end of a few years we returned to be and it confessed to me personally that, if went to recommence, it would touch without nails. This confession does not agree, nevertheless, with the declarations that AGUADO year 1843 inserts in the last edition of its Method appeared in Madrid, that is, four years after the SOR death. In him it says: I always had used of them (the nails) in all the fingers of which I use to press; but, as soon as I listened to my friend SOR, I was decided not to use it in the thumb. And I am very contented of it to have done, because the pulsation of the yolk of this finger, when it does not press parallelly to the cord, produces energetic and pleasing sounds that are what agrees to the part of the low one that regularly is executed in the pigrim's staffs; in the other fingers I conserve them. As it is point of the greater interest, I hope that, by my long practice it will be at least allowed to give my opinion frankly me. consider preferable to touch with nail, to remove from the cords of the guitar a sound that is not resembled the one of any other instrument. To my to understand the guitar has a particular character; she is sweet, harmonious, melancholic; some times it gets to be majestic, although it does not admit the grandiosidad of the ARPA nor of the piano; but however it offers very delicate thanks and their sounds are susceptible of such modifications and combinations, that they make it seem a mysterious instrument, lending itself very well to the song and the expression . To produce these effects I prefer to touch with nails; because, used well, the sound that is is clean, metallic and sweet; but it is necessary to understand that with single them the cords are not pressed, because there is no doubt that then the sound would be little pleasant. The cord with the yolk by the part of her is touched firstly who falls towards the thumb ; having finger somewhat tended (bent like when it is touched with the yolk) and immediately the cord by the nail does not slide. These nails do not have to be of very hard quality; they are had to cut so that they form an oval figure and they have to excel little of the surface of the yolk, because being very long they obstruct l agility, because the cord in leaving the nail takes long time and also there is the disadvantage of offering less security in the pulsation; with them the volatas and with much clarity are executed very quickly.

The AGUADO musical education of had not been the same one that the one of SOR. The one of this one it came from a severely austere atmosphere: the one of the Escolania de Monteserrat, where besides to learn solfeo, harmony and counterpoint, it studied violoncelo and it took part from neatly executed the vocal ensembles of sagrada music, since it has been always fame in that Monastery, without by all it it left its guitar. The father Martin who was Partner during the five years that SOR happened in the Monastery, tells the prodigies that did in its guitar, leaving admired to the other companions and to whatever they heard to him. When leaving the Monastery, studied in Barcelona the song and the instrumentation and released with success in the theater Santa Cruz its opera Telemaco. Towards 1803, being official of the army she concurred to a concert organized in Malaga by Mr. QUIPATRI, consul of Austria in that city, and left astonished to whichever musicians and other people heard to him, executing shiningly in the contrabass their Subject with Variations. (Biographical Dictionary of Events of Spanish musicians. Balthasar SALDONI.) Of AGUADO, says to LUIS BALLESTEROS to us in his biographical Dictionary Matritense that: From the first years it showed excellent dispositions for the study, beginning the eight years to study Latin Grammar, Philosophy and French and made great advances in just a short time; later to Paleography, having to its untiring assiduity the title of Palografo of the Council of Castile. By way of distraction and recreation it tried to acquire the first rudimentos of the guitar and it received from Fray Miguel GARCIA, monk in the convent of San Basilio, that made him include/understand the resources and party that could remove from this instrument. He himself SOR says us of her admirable colleague, who their teachers touched with nails in a period in which the tendency was to execute speed passages to boast of great dominion and to dazzle to the public; they did not include/understand another music that the one that was touched in the guitar and called touched to the quartet of cords, music church. Luckyly its own personal sense, when orienting itself freely, impelled to him towards a superior high musicality. Nevertheless, as much their works of concert as their Method accuse one more a compenetrated espirituality with the brilliance of technique that with the depth of emotion and elevation of concept. Being SOR and AGUADO two great guitarists, the superiority of first mainly must to the musical and artistic aspect of its work. To the classic idealidad of their Sonatas, Fantasies, Studies and Minuetos, are suitable the loudness without nails, more identified with the camera music. From the summit of her knowledge and experience, in the middle of an expanded horizon, SOR includes almost all the dominions of music. AGUADO, captive of her guitar, stranger vibrates encerado in the small world of her sonorous box, other people's to all musical expression.

The SOR life was a anxious and intense life; its character, anxious and impetuous; its sensitivity, intensely vibrant; its temperament, ardent, disordered and fighter. It traveled much and it knew so much the intoxicating pleasure the great triumphs in art, love and fortune, as the pain the failure, the forgetfulness and the poverty. It died to the 61 years, without fortune and victim of a cruel disease, whose causes attribute some, to its wild passions. The AGUADO existence of was however calm, affective and laborious. Their natural inclination to the study, its fine musical sensitivity and the spirit of order and continuity in their ideas, did of him admirable pedagogo that we know. The death of its mother - of that never was had separated - altered La Paz of its provincial life, and was transferred to Paris, where their personal talent of artist and its dowries knew to conquer the admiration of the greatest artists and the effect of all whatever treated to him. When returning from this trip to Spain the 12 of April of 1838, the diligence in which traveled, when arriving at Ariza (Aragon), were assaulted by a game of carlistas pertaining to the army of Goatherd; which, after ransacking to him, lead to him to mounts with their fellow travellers and they notified the death sentence to him, that single could be revoked, bringing to readiness certain amount of money. The same one spurts threatened the other travellers; it was nevertheless first who reached the freedom without being put under these conditions that prevailed for their rescue; then their venerable old age and amiable treatment managed to soften the heart of those to those who as much it had hardened the war. Through some letters that we have read directed to its Monsieur collaborator Of FOSSA, it can be included/understood all the kindness of its character and the amount of love and intelligence that spilled in its work. Could have the opposite preferences of sound in these artists atavism reasons? Between the devotee ones of the guitar that has existed and exists in cities like Vienna, Berlin, Moscow, London, Copenhagen and others, the greater part presses (without perhaps realizing), with the yolk; while in others, they touch generally with nails. Familiarized all with their customary procedure, the norms follow restlessness nor preferences that the habit establishes. We could admit so, that the sense of the sonority had been influence by SOR in Cataluña culture; and in AGUADO according to the custom of Castile, possibly opposed. It seems improbable to us for being artists in whose criterion and eagerness summary nobly to the most disinterested spirit of intelligent generosity and sincere love the true art. Influence gives AGUADO school of, ARCAS and TÃRREGA. - The sound without nails. - Difference between the TARREGA procedure and the one of its predecessors. Artistic evolution of TÃRREGA and deduction of its preferences. To start off of the time at which so high relief had these prominent figures, the AGUADO Method of served as guide all the later guitarists and has contributed effectively to that this sense of loudness prevailed, until the case of TÃRREGA at the beginning of 1900. TÃRREGA had not always touched without nails.

The guitarists who he knew, even ARCAS, touched with the nails. It touched like them, without at the outset suspecting the possibility a loudness better. In this period of youth, it was when it made the artistic campaigns that gave fame him. But his anxious and investigating spirit had to hit a day the troublesome dilemma of the sound. That day, not without titubeos doubts nor, could be decided, after several attempts, to will clear of the means that encumbraron it, to submerge suddenly in the abysses of the uncertain thing, in looks for of better matter whereupon to purify its art. It had to deprive itself during one long season to touch in public and God knows if with it it created to his precarious situation, distressing difficulties that to win. It had to work to all hours to dominate the resistance of a new technique in which it had to constitute disciple and teacher simultaneously. When these obstacles were overcome to the aim, those that we heard to TÃRREGA in its last times we will never forget the so pure sensation art that gave its guitar. In order to obtain the sound without nails that TÃRREGA obtained, it is not enough to cut the nails to skin head of cattle; it is necessary to form the sound; that is to say, to develop in the yolk of the fingers a certain balance of tact, elasticity and resistance that only can obtain with a constant practice and attention. Doubtlessly the sound of SOR without nails had to be different from which TÃRREGA obtained, as it also had to be the one of AGUADO, with nails, to the one of TÃRREGA before modifying their pulsation. TÃRREGA that did not use nail none attacked generally the cord in perpendicular direction of the same one, resting, after the impulsion, on the immediate cord. This procedure that a ma¡ximum of amplitude, intensity gives and purity of sound in regard to the width, smoothness and firmness of the body that moves it were not used by SOR, AGUADO nor another one of its contemporaries; this can be deduced of its writings and is necessary to suppose that, to have been thus, they had mentioned it specifically in his treated respect. TÃRREGA was influenced in his first times by a time of badly pleasure. Their programs were integrated most of like those of the concertistas of other instruments at their time, with works in which the musicalidad served only as pretext the most audacious shows of virtuosity. Happily also as the AGUADO case of, its temperament, its talent and its good taste, impelled it towards more polished horizons. Its evolution means a musicalidad advance: MOZART, HAYDN and BEETHOVEN get passionate to him and absorb primeo; CHOPIN, MENDELSSHON and SCHUMANN later; compenetrado to the aim with the espiritualidad of BACH, it not only manages the miracle to interpret on the six simple cords the works of this author that better adapt to the nature of the instrument (among them the Fuge of the First Sonata for single violin) but that their same production demonstrates, from then, a marked sense of aspiration towards pure music. This purismo had to be reflected unavoidably in the sound. The cords pressed without nails offered the dreamed loudness to him; a pure, immaterial and austere timbre. With the work it obtained a perfect unit between notes pressed by any finger and in any cord. Dominated therefore the matter,was discovering new timbres and sutilizas of execution that gave to their interpretations greater relief and persuasivo enchantment.

The preference that TÃRREGA granted to the loudness without nails founds on which being these died matter, they isolate the contact of the sensitivity of the artist with the cord. The guitar pressed without the nails comes to be like an prolongation of our own sensitivity and for an essentially touching temperament like he was the one of TÃRREGA, this reason seems to us irrefutable. It does not have to attribute the smaller influence of imitative or conventional sense to the change of pulsation adopted by TÃRREGA; it was a premeditaded resolution long and progressively defined to traverse of a series of successive overcomings, born of its anxiety of perfection. Causes of prevent the right appreciation of the sound. Factors that take part in the formation of the criterion. Subjective classification of the sound. The lack of official protection to that the guitar in almost all the countries has been relegated almost always, has caused that in its technique governed the most deplorable anarchy irremediably. For any instrument of which in each conservatory a method is taught, existed or appropriate system that the professor adopts and by as each student it obtains in proportional result to its personal faculties. If some discrepancy and establishes sometimes between different professors on technical particularitities from a same instrument, is rare that it never gets to alter itself by such disensión, the general result of the studies. The education of the guitar is exerted most of the times by teachers who studied as they could, freely following methods of defective schools or indications of unexpected teachers. Positions to teach, teach as well honestly what they know. The disciple who feels perfection avidity finds with insurmountable obstacles; the method of modern technology able to satisfy its aspirations does not exist and the few teachers who could help him are not always accessible. All sentence to the nascent one to resign themselves and completely without information to look for the way that better can guide traverse of so many stumbling blocks and difficulties. And he is natural, which a criterion formed under these circumstances is susceptible to ignore not only the importance of a difference in the loudness, but the same difference. Our sense is educated and defining themselves according to the atmosphere that surrounds to us almost always inducing to us to dissent of everything what n or agrees with him. Only the chosen ones manage to live alert on their own criterion trying that their convictions do not prevent them to include/understand trying that are to them new and the right opinions of the others. The questions of aesthetic are sanctioned better sometimes through that anonymous intelligence of the senses, that under the balanced examination of our experienced reason. For that reason, when trying to form an opinion on the sound - nonexistent without our facility to hear - it is not possible to establish another personal classification, in agreement with the auditory sense that it acts directly on our spirit.

Physical character of the sound. The classification in the instruments and the procedures. The sound of the cord attacked with the nails. The sound of the cords pressed with the yolks. Superiority of the loudness without the nails. Intensity, height and stamp are the acoustic particularitities of the sound. Whenever two or more notes of the same intensity and height produce in our ear a different sensation, they will be of different timbre. This difference that can vary to the infinite, is, within the comparative , susceptible sense of classification. Proof of it is that the category of certain instruments of a same type is founded on the conditions of its loudness. What avalora mainly the instruments of the creators of Cremona on the other instruments of arc - as it happens with the PAGES guitars , TORRES and some other - is not only the power but the beauty of its sounds. Equal cords, simultaneously placed in guitars different and pulsations from the air by a same hand in a same point of the cord, will produce in each instrument a different loudness. The sound that seems better to us will be produced surely by the guitar that better conditions of loudness it will have; therefore we will classify to that guitar of better than the others. However; a same instrument in equality of conditions the same does not sound in different hands executants. Violoncelo of CASALS, the violin of KREISLER or a piano of selected mark, does not produce the same quality of sound, treated by different hands. Soon a superior category of sonorous quality in a same instrument exists that is in the particular procedure of each artist. The sound of the cord depends: 1ª of the way to attack it; 2ª of the point where is attacked it and 3ª of its diameter, tension and elasticity. Being the nail a hard body of surface, diverse thickness and consistency, gives by its impulsion to the cord a brilliance of penetrating, spontaneous timbre and a little little metalist although of amplitude. The sound without the nails produced by the impulsion of a soft, subtly sensible body and of better thickness and width, produces a timbre different from greater volume, smoothness and purity. The diferents ways to touch the string is the quantity and the intensity of the superior harmonics that belongs to fundamental sound, so much strong and weak as vibration movement could be. When pressing a cord, the finger separates it of rest supposition from an end to the other of its length before leaving it. A discontinuity only takes place in the opening more or less expanded of the angle that offers the precise site where it has been impelled by the finger. This angle is acute if the cord is attacked with the nail that when it is attacked with the yolk of the finger. In the first case a more penetrating sound is obtained, accompanied by a great amount of elevated overtones, that tend to metalize their timbre. In the second, the vibrations are less acute, let perceive these overtones and the timbre is less shining, smoother and more sonorous.

Although in both sound fundamental is more intense than the one of this sounds auxiliary, as the body becomes hardened that attacks them, accentuate these in damage of the fundamental sound. Prove to attack the cord with a hard object, nail or prong., and will be observed that the sound that is is acute and metalist; paying the necessary attention of ear, an amount of notes elevated on the main sound will be distinguished, If the same cord with the yolk of the finger is pressed, those notes stop and the sound is less brilliant, smoother and ampler. Of there the sense of vaciedad of the sound with the nail (enemy of the fundamental and protective sound of the auxiliary sounds), in opposition to the full and pure sound of the loudness produced by the yolk of the finger, totally favorable to that one in damage of the others. The change of timbre of a same cord under he himself system of pulsation also is related to the theory of the natural overtones. The purest sound, gives the pulsation it in half of the cord, where the node of its first overtone forms and is as much more emptiness and gangoso at the most it separates of this point towards his extremities. The material of the cords and its diameter also exert their influence in the timbre. The very tense cords do not give very high overtones because of the alternative flexion in small divisions of their length overall. The gut cords are lighter and of elasticity less perfect than the metal cords covered; for that reason the loudness of those is of less duration than the one of these last ones on everything in the natural overtones and the acute auxiliary sounds. (The Physiologique of the Musique H.HELMHOTZ, translation of M Is seen . C. Guerolt, pag 105-113) If we consider the sense that has prevailed for the classification of categories in the same-type instruments and for sonoridades produced on a same instrument, we will incline, evidently, with preference in favor of the sound without the nails, next to the pure sound of the ARPA or the piano, and not in favor of the sound with the nail, that does to its way, a noble praise of the prong. Between a lute of simple cord and a guitar pressed with the nails, little would reduce, in certain passages of moved music, in favor of this one. And there is no doubt that, in the suplantación of the harpsichord by the piano, it influenced much in the quality of the sound obtained by the plush hammer.

Translating reviewed by Hugo Alcayaga Ramírez

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