Shur : for solo guitar
by Michael Knopf (2009)
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This work was composed to embody my evolving work in stylistic
synthesis in composition. Its genesis is from the Persian dastgah
practice of 'shur' (shoor), perhaps the most characteristic mode
of Persian classical music.
My intention was not to write a Persian traditional composition but to explore some possibilities inherent in the styles and genres I chose to bring together, allowing recognisability to play a role with both performer and listener. This includes similarities and contrasts found in traditional and radical representations or approximations of the music I incorporate or borrow for new work. Here, I combine my own improvisatory style with concepts fundamental to Persian solo performance practice which include the mode and the sections named for the traditional gusheh (melody type) that epitomise this music. My gusheh-ha are not traditional but original.
Amongst these expressions of various culturally styled musics, is the background of things like contemporary art music practices, guitar techniques, the solo suites of Bach and modern jazz. My improvisational modus operandus is drawn upon in composition because its flight of fancy allows imagination to dominate process. Ideas flow which can always be modified later, but every composition of mine will have this spontaneous feel.
The creative impetus to discover new musical correlations allows me to choose things from the existing musical world and impose relationships on them in an unfolding context so that new worlds of musical meaning may be born. This is not cross-over music. It is more like collage where an idea may dominate a work but where it is more likely that there will be smatterings of musical representations placed here or there. Style and genre will be heard in layers or beside each other, or they may be blended so that something new is perceived.
The nature of Persian music is poetic and reflective and seldom dramatic. The experienced master melodicizes using a handful of notes creating an evocative and moving tapestry. This is indeed a part of this work though the dramatic and exhuberant exist in the contrast of genre.
Instrumentation: Classical guitar with altered tuning (C G D Bb C Eb)
Duration: 8 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Use of bent quarter tones and unusual tessitura
First performance: 23 Mar 09. Ian Hanger Recital Hall, Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane
Performances of this work
23 Mar 09: Ian Hanger Recital Hall, Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane
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