COLLABORATION WITH COMPOSER SARA VARAS
This creative collaboration between the composer and me led the creation of a new work for guitar and sextet. The whole process was part of my artistic research project that resulted in the thesis Guitarra Negra: A journey through a collaborative creative process that you can download here:
Guitarra Negra, a journey through a collaborative creative process, is an artistic research project that tries – through qualitative research methods – to decode the essence in collaboration between a composer and a performer in their attempt to create and record a musical work. The premises of the project were to create a fusion of contemporary western music and flamenco in a piece for guitar solo and chamber ensemble. It was decided at the outset that the project would also explore the possible dynamics of the interrelation between composer and performer. The collaborative process is analyzed with tools derived from a review of analytical models and theories of collaboration. Since the collaboration involved the transmission and transformation of musical traditions the research demanded a historical review of flamenco and its evolution as well as a discussion of the theory on how musical traditions are created and transformed. I also discuss the process of critical editing of the guitar part and how the interaction between composer, score, and interpreter works in the negotiation of a final version for the recording. The last chapter of the collaboration involved the making of the recording, which implied a “collaboration in the collaboration” which is analyzed with the same tools used when reviewing the interaction between composer and performer.
The artistic result is a CD recording of the work Guitarra Negra for guitar and sextet (fl. cl. piano, percussion, vl. vc.) recorded at Studio Acusticum in Piteå and released by Daphne Records.
SARA VARAS (B.1981-)
Guitarra Negra for Guitar and sextet (Fl, Cl, Vl, Vc, Perc, Piano)
Nana – Granaína – Martinete – Seguiriya – Bulería
”Guitarra Negra started as a project when I was doing research for my masters programme in music performance at the Luleå University. I was in a phase of investigating the aesthetics of the flamenco and, as a coincidence, a friend of mine from the time when I was studying at the Conservatory Musikene in the Basque Country, the composer and pianist Sara Varas, was also working in this style and even playing with a flamenco ensemble. I told her about the possibilities to write something for the guitar and sextet, and the availability of the professional ensemble NEO for the master students.
From then on began a long collaboration with Sara where we exchanged ideas and impressions, that gave me help in transmitting the flamenco essence into the work, which resulted in the recording of the piece in the studio in Piteå Acusticum on January 11, 2011.
The work is not only a tribute to flamenco but is inspired by the homonymous Milonga Music Poem “Guitarra Negra” by the Uruguayan folk singer and writer Alfredo Zitarrosa (1936-1989). Every movement or Palo refers to a phrase of the poem.
Nana-“Your silence on the bridge…”,
Granaína- ”without hands that offend you..”
Martinete- “..How do I give you all those names…”
Seguiriya-“…without flooding your heart with shadows..”
Bulería “ with loneliness and rage, with silence..”
The symbiosis of the new and the old world that was came about through the African influence in the development of the popular music of both Latin America and Spain, cannot be overemphasized, from the Folía, the Fandango and Zorongo of the XVI-XVIII centuries to the milongas and habaneras of the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th. According to flamencologists such as Antonio and David Hurtado, this transatlantic interaction was the seed that would grow to the establishment of the flamenco in the late 1800s. The milonga was brought to Spain by the singer and dancer Pepa Oro in the last part of the XIX century and don Antonio Chacón adapted it to the flamenco song in his record of 1913
(source: La llave de la música flamenca, Hurtado-Torres, Signatura Ed., 2009:266).
In Guitarra Negra by Sara Varas, the poetry is the link, the bridge, and the frame of a modernized flamenco, sometimes disfigured, that the guitar brings together in the solo parts and the ensemble responds to in an avant-garde language but retains the color, the essence of the different flamenco rhythms
“How am I to take you inside me, guitar…” No one could express it better than the great Alfredo Zitarrosa, as an existential doubt in face of the creation and the empty score, the starting point of this new experience. Guitarra Negra is about a reflection, a look at the guitar and the instruments of the classical tradition, at the history that tells us that flamenco was born and raised immersed in a powerful cultural mixture. Guitarra Negra deconstructs the rhythm, the harmony and the “jondura” entering an initiating travel trough the softness of the Nana, the melody of the Granaína, the sadness of the Martinete, the primitiveness of the Seguiriya and the final trough Bulerías.
The answer to the initial doubt is resolved by the guitarist who, as in the poem by milonga, responds ” you know it, guitarra negra,”
(Sara Varas, Composer 2011-09-16, translation S.C.Z.)
Guitarra Negra was recorded at Studio Acusticum on January 11, 2011. The recording and the participation of NEO was part of my Masters Programme examination. It was made possible by the collaboration between NEO and the Musikhögskolan in Piteå part of Luleå University.
The inclusion of the recording on this CD was made possible thanks to the good will of the participants, to whom I always will be grateful (S.C.Z.).
Norrbotten NEO is Sweden’s newest voice on the contemporary music scene. Formed in January 2007, the ensemble is funded by the national, regional and municipal governments, and has a mission to perform throughout the country, as well as internationally. NEO has a core ensemble of seven musicians: flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion and piano.
Artistic Director: Petter Sundkvist
Flute: Sara Hammarström
Clarinet: Robert Ek
Violin: Christian Svarfvar
Cello: David Gammelgård
Percussion: Daniel Saur
Piano: Johan Ullén (substitute of Mårten Landström)
Engineering: Dan Nyberg and Katarina Nilsson
Edition: Dan Nyberg, Katarina Nilsson, Sebastián Caldas Zeballos.