Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fossils 2007: MP3's from the CD

Just for readers of this blog and a few other lucky souls, I have set up a download page where you can get all 27 MP3's of the new re-recording of my CD Fossils.

Fossils 2007 is here!

These are solo classical guitar pieces I wrote between 1987 and 1999. I first recorded them as a demo in 2000, but I wasn't performing at that time, so my chops were very rusty. Not only that, but I was also using a Gibson Chet Atkins CEC electric nylon string guitar back then, which I could never get a sound out of that I really liked. So, I decided to re-record the entire CD with the Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA, and the results are satisfying enough. The sounds are perfect, but my playing, alas, never is. I think twenty years is long enough to spend on a first solo CD, though, don't you?

I was thinking about going for a third version, but then I realized I was just beating myself up - and I want to get on with Heavy Nylon anyway - so I just decided to leave it as is. No doubt but it's 100% better than the original demo, so that's enough.


The pieces on the CD are in two broad categories: Twelve Figuration Preludes and Eighteen Axial Studies. The Axial Studies are further subdivided into Six Studies on an E-Axis, Six Studies on a B-Axis, and Six Studies on a G-Axis. Three of the G-Axis studies are not on Fossils because they are in flat keys: They'll be on the second CD in the Irreducible Essence series - associated with the Figuration Preludes in their keys - which will be entitled Artifacts.

For the Figuration Preludes the idea was twofold: First to do some harmonic exploration on the guitar, and second to create some technical exercises that would use five-finger right hand technique (Using the "c" finger, which many classical guitarists today still do not employ). So, the texture for all of them is five voice harmony - no mean trick on a six-string guitar - and they are roughly progressive, starting with simple right hand figurations and progressing to more intricate ones. Tonally, they progress around the cycle of thirds starting in A minor: A minor, C major, E minor, G major, and so on. I also use a wide variety of time signatures in them: 2/4, 4/4, 5/4, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, 9/8, 10/8 12/8 &c. I wrote the first of these in 1988 and the last in 1999. Formally, they vary quite a bit, but all are basically through-composed with some internal repeats in a few of them.

With the Axial Studies I had another set of goals: I was starting my contrapuntal studies when I wrote the E-Axis studies in 1987 and 1988, so I wanted to develop some facility with that, but I was also studying Schillinger at the time, and I wanted to experiment with some of his concepts. In fact, Schillinger directly inspired these pieces through his axis of melody ideas. I realized that if you use the open strings of the guitar as the zero-axes, some nice idiomaic pieces could be created, and so off I went.

The Six Studies on a B-Axis I wrote in 1990 and 1991, and they were, in fact, part of my Master of Music thesis about Schillinger. Naturally, they are more advanced and technically demanding than the earlier E-Axis studies.

Finally, the G-Axis Studies I composed in 1993 and 1994 while I was a doctoral candidate at UNT. One of these, the G-Axis Study in G Major, I think is a concert quality piece, and it really transcends the original conception I had stated with those seven years previously.

For the forms of these pieces I used an A, A', B, C, A layout almost all of the time in which the B is an interlude and the C is the "real" B section. The G Major G-Axis study, however, has two of the interludes. In the G-Axis studies, most of the interludes are in a different time signature than the other sections. None of them modulate, however.

Finally, there a few of these studies that require an extended technique I use wherein the guitarist must fret with the right hand "i" finger while continuing to pluck with the "p" and "m" fingers. This is hard to pull off smoothly, and you'll notice I have to slow down at those points. The move is so difficult in Track 25 that I've never performed that piece live, and despite several attempts to rewrite it, it stubbornly refuses to be rewritten.

This CD is basically the internal skeleton of my set. Each key group in the actual set I perform has one or more standard rep classical guitar pieces in it, and each one ends with one of the Heavy Nylon crowd pleaser deals.



Hard to get tired of her.


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