About the Piece
This fusion fingerstyle composition is an eclectic mix of three core music styles: flamenco, jazz, and carnatic music, performed on the acoustic guitar and voice.
I've coupled it with a carnatic korvai in adi tala (8-beat cycle), performed with a little Indian-styled drumming on the guitar body with konnakol vocal syllables.
This piece is inspired by Psalm 2:11:
'Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.'
The imagery this verse evokes is beautiful and eye-opening, as normally service out of fear is not a good thing. It's like being forced into servitude by an unforgiving master. However, this verse calls me to take joy in the fact that I can serve the Lord with fear, and serve willingly, because He is all-powerful and I can find peace and comfort in His care.
Now that's how I draw inspiration for this little composition, and whether or not you resonate with what I shared, I wonder if you can hear the joyful tremblings in the forceful but controlled guitar melodies and textures.
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What are the Musical Ingredients in this Piece?
I imagining I'm a chef when making music! Just like in cooking, I make use of musical ingredients from a diversity of styles and cultures that I'm versed in to create something innovative yet respectful of tradition.
The framework of this composition is a falseta, a short melodic section traditionally inserted between vocal stanzas.
I use this powerful triple-stroke thumb technique on my right hand to create a sense of urgency.
An incredibly powerful and fast picking technique alternating between the index and middle fingers.
The E dorian mode evokes a sombre tone with a hint of positivity from the natural 6th degree.
A modal approach means that there isn't a fixed chord progression, and harmonies float above the rhythmic texture.
The descending melodic line is adapted from a saxophone lick I heard on Dexter Gordon's solo on 'Blue Bossa'.
I use an 8-beat cycle called adi tala to provide a rhythmic framework.
The melodic vocal line uses the carnatic svaras (syllables) 'sa ri ga ma pa da ni', similar to jazz scat singing.
I adapted the korvai (rhythmic form), normally performed on carnatic percussion instruments onto the guitar body.
Alongside percussive strokes I use konnakol, the art of performing oral rhythmic syllables.
And here's the piece written out in western music notation. While it definitely does not capture every nuance of the composition and how it is to be performed, it is arguably (and in my opinion) the most comprehensive system of notation yet.
Until next time, I'll see you again!
By Neil Chan