miércoles, 24 de marzo de 2010

5 husbands .... and no babies yet

This time this entry is for my friend, the fantastic guitarist Miguel Trapaga, by whom I have the honour and great pleasure to be commissioned my first piece for guitar solo. I have written for guitar in the past, but none for a solo instrument, and quite an elaborated and virtuosic one. This is only possible thanks to him, his support, his continuing efforts to give me a thorough insight of the instrument, its wondrous sound world, its delicacy and huge possibilities which I wasn’t aware of until then. I don’t think that a composer should be able to play every instrument, but in the case of the guitar, I thought I had to so I did learn its basic exercises by myself. Its finger positions, rich and strange colours should “fall into the fingers” as we say. And I must say, I have never worked together with an instrumentalist as intensively as I have with him, and boy, it's very inspiring and useful!

The result of our collaboration is my piece, “The 5 lovers of Drupadi”. It's in 4 movements. Eh?? It doesn’t add up, right? Well, it is based on a very small episode from the epic “Mahabharata” from India, where Drupadi was --by natural force (and a long story behind it) and not by sexual temptation!— married to the 5 brothers of Pandava. And 2 of them, Nakula and Sadeva were twins. Now, it’s quite a contradiction I must say, that Indonesian culture in general, and Javanese culture in particular could embrace this mythology quite naturally, since by historical background we are quite, let’s say, “right-winged”. Even until now. I mean, you can talk to any people there in Java and they’d tell you that homosexuality is a disease that could be cured, for example. There are even some extremists who would go as far as telling you that it is a sin to have a facebook account!

Back to my guitar piece, I ask for scordatura for the VI, V and IV strings. They are tuned to F, G and C respectively. So, I was very thankful to Miguel Trapaga that he would made a version of the score with what is played, not what sounds. The poor guy had to learn the piece as it sounds, not as it is written! If you can’t imagine what he went through, well, imagine that you are playing the piano and half of the keyboard produces different notes than what you usually play. Yes, half of it, since I re-tuned 3 strings of the guitar, which are half of the 6 strings of the instrument. I admit that my knowledge of the guitar is not advanced enough to be able to write the fingerings and the scordatura notation. And now that he has finished editing the score, my my, all those strange symbols and numbers could be misinterpreted as a secret message from the KGB!

Miguel Trapaga has given the world premiere of The 5 lovers of Drupadi on the 10th of March at Juan Bravo theatre in Segovia in a concert of the Philharmonic Society. He will tour it to Asia & New Zealand starting next June.