Etudes, Book 1 (2008) for guitar
duration:  18' 
First Performance (incomplete set): Alan Thomas, Bath Guitar Festival, 28th July 2004. 
Étude No. 1: Turbulence Patterns
Étude No. 2: Kleptomaniac
Étude No. 3: Pierrot, au clair de lune
Étude No. 4: Gears
Étude No. 5: Indigo Wave Box 
Étude No. 6: Lamentoso

To download the score, please go to my Gumroad shop page

Programme Note
Like many other people, I have felt that the music of Gyorgy Ligeti is the most inventive and engaging music of its time. His "Etudes for piano" in particular are a monumental achievement, with each of the 18 etudes combining virtuoso technical explorations with compelling expressive content. As a very meagre pianist, playing these pieces is sadly out of my reach, but how I have dreamt of being able to play them on my instrument! Though my few brief efforts at transcribing some of the etudes for guitar quickly proved absurd, the idea of writing some guitar etudes in the style of Ligeti was born, and the studies in my first book of etudes are therefore the results of this attempt to adapt Ligeti's compositional language and approach to the guitar. Using different pieces by Ligeti as models, I have sought ways of transferring their technical, rhythmic and formal ideas to my instrument. I would be the first to acknowledge that this process has sometimes taken the form of quasi-transcription of varying degrees, though sometimes the connection with Ligeti is less direct. In any case, it is hoped that these pieces will be understood in the spirit with which they are intended: as loving homages which attempt to bring a new world of sound under the guitarist's fingers.

Etude No. 1: Turbulence Patterns
Turbulence Patterns is a right hand arpeggio study, which for guitarists may recall the seminal first etude by Heitor Villa-Lobos. The twist here is that the various right hand arpeggio patterns employed in the piece are combined with movable left hand chord shapes to create a fluid harmonic landscape.

Etude No. 2: Kleptomaniac
Kleptomaniac is a study in the cross-string right hand trill technique, built from different groupings of a constant quaver pulse to create complex cross-rhythms.

Etude No. 3: Pierrot, au clair de lune
Pierrot, au clair de lune draws obliquely on the soundworld of Debussy to create a little impression of the sad clown Pierrot. The piece is essentially a two-part invention, with each of the two layers characterised by a different meter and tonality.

Etude No. 4: Gears
The basic material of Gears is a sequence of 45 two-note chords, one note of which is always an open string. The sequence is repeated nine times, but as the title implies, constantly increasing in speed.

Etude No. 5: Indigo Wave Box
Indigo Wave Box is based on a process of gradually expanding a simple melody set against a flowing scalar pattern using the lute technique of campanella (the "bell-ringing" effect of notes on different strings ringing over each other). The title refers to the "executive desk toy" cuboid filled with undulating blue liquid which adorned many an office desk in the 70s.

Etude No. 6. Lamentoso
One of Ligeti's stylistic signatures is the so-called "lament" motif, which typically consists of a series of three phrases built from descending chromatic scales. His most extensive exploration of the motif is in the etude "Automne a Varsovie", on which this sixth etude is unabashedly based! Throughout the piece, the descending chromatic phrases can be heard insistently (obsessively) like an ostinato, though played at different speeds resulting from varied groupings superimposed on a background of constant semiquaver pulses.

 

 
 
 
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