Last December at the Santa Cruz Guitar Christmas party I ran into multi-talented Sandor Nagyszalanczy and he offered his facilities to do some audio video project. I haven’t really done any recording in a very long time, but what the heck, let’s try it. It’s challenging, hard to play well on a good day, let alone on camera. And unnerving to see how much I have become my father. Sandor was great to work with and very supportive, and I thank him for his work.
Stolen Moments represents a comeback to composing music for my lifetime instrument, the classical guitar. While I have been actively playing for over 50 years and building guitars for almost as long, there has been a nagging instinct to compositionally explore the instrument in my own way. I’ve been procrastinating so long until, at this stage of life, if not now, when?
The title refers to an interview I did with Santa Cruz legacy composer Lou Harrison. I asked him how he manages his prolific output, where does he find the time? His response was “Oh there's never time, I just write in stolen moments.” This has been helpful wisdom for me getting deeper into composing. There is a double meaning as well. I asked the great guitarist composer Johannes Möller if there was any of his contemporaries whose music he would play in his programs and he said “No, no, if I hear something I like I just steal it.” Well I stole the tuning system for this piece from Johannes’ composition “A Star in the Sky, a Universe Within.” Johannes has been a great inspiration and supporter for me.
Recently I was looking through drawers of sheet music in my office and I came across a big stash of manuscripts I had written between 1974 and 1979. I was vaguely aware they were there, but I was stunned at how much there was. It was all jumbled up, pages mixed up or missing and smelled like a mummy. There are at least 15 compositions. Then nothing until 2010. Then nothing again until 2018. There have always been ideas, but not follow through. It’s curious how related in style that 4 decades old music is to what I come up with now. The main difference is that I’m a little better editor and architect now, but the feelings are pretty much the same. Currently I’m working on several pieces in various stages of progress and trying to remember Lou's advice and take advantage of the “stolen moments” to start — and finish the new pieces.
The playing trick with Stolen Moments is that it uses a capo on the first 5 strings at the 4th fret, with the 6th string unfretted. This produces an elfin, wind chime like upper resonance and a nice low bass note. The score is notated in the key of C, even though the actual pitches are key of E. The open 6th string is treated as a low C. The piece is in 4/4 but for much of the piece the rhythmic count is grouped 5,5,6 which keeps the recurring arpeggios swaying a little off balance.
Buy "Stolen Moments" now!
Buy "Stolen Moments" now!