Friday, December 11, 2009

time for a hundred visions and revisions, part 2

In addition to the usual job-hunting enterprise I have been revising the prelude and fugue in C minor for solo guitar. Well, revising the prelude but adding additional and critical left hand instructions for the fugue. After playing guitar for nearly twenty years and in the heat of the compositional process I can sit down with my guitar, work out a passage fairly quickly and commit it to the page (Finale is useful here) without necessarily putting down all the instructions for HOW I played that passage that didn't seem too bad. This becomes a big problem when you run it by even an experienced, capable guitarist who doesn't know what you did (and, just as importantly) didn't do in the process of playing through something.

Some people like to claim the guitar is a miniature orchestra. That's bunk if you don't appreciate it for being the analogy (with all the attendent limitations analogies have) that it is. I would say that the guitar is in very practical ways more like a choir. You can hold notes for so long before you run out of breath and that is what has happened with inadequate instructions on how to handle barre chords in the prelude. Unless you have a left hand like a C-clamp you can only play bar chords for so long!

Now that I'm done, more or less, with C minor, I am 9 of 24 down in the set. Igor Rekhin's set is the benchmark for solo guitar fugue-writing and I hope to add to that. Russian music is not necessarily Western music the way we usually understand that term "Western music". If Rekhin is the first composer in the East to compose 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar then if I happen to be the first composer in the West to tackle such a project that's great, and if not that's still great. As Stephen Colbert put it to Tom Wright on his show, "It's not a race." Of course the bishop jokingly replied, "Oh, really? I thought it was."

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