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System Studies
for solo guitar.

In the early 1980s many composers writing for the guitar were seduced by the appearance of Minimalism and Repetitive Music. Scores such as Leo Brouwer’s El Decamaron Negre and Edward McGuire’s Music for Guitar(s) and Prelude V demonstrate just how well the guitar is suited to repetitive gestures and modal harmonies. There was, however, a rather uncompromising sub-genre of Minimalism known as Systems Music. This was taken up by several composers associated with Cornelius Cardew’s Experimental Music Catalogue and by ensembles such as Glyn Perrin’s Man Jumping influenced by Louis Andriessen’s work for De Volharding.

Systems Studies for solo guitar grew out of exploring some of this ‘systems’ repertoire and from a realisation that few solo works (for any instrument) existed that celebrated Minimalism in this distinctly purist fashion.

The three studies are designed for performance on an Ovation Stereo Classical Guitar. This instrument has pickups built into its bridge and allows a distinct stereo separation between strings 1 3 5 (right) and 2 4 and 6 (left). This feature is rigorously exploited in the studies: there are often passages where adjacent notes are bounced from one speaker to another at high speed. This stereo-panning should not, however, deter performers using a purely acoustic instrument, although some amplification is recommended.


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Nigel Morgan, Prudential Buildings, 55 Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1BW, United Kingdom Tel: 01924 383017 e-mail: tonalitysystems@mac.com

This website and associated content 2013 Nigel Morgan unless otherwise stated.