Date and location
October 5, 2023
Orpheus Institute, Korte Meer 12, 9000 Ghent.
Americas Guitar Duo ConcertOctober 5, 2023
The concept of this concert program encompasses a study of imitative counterpoint as realized by two guitars. It is our goal to explore the myriad of styles, technique, aesthetics, and genres that composers from different epochs used in combination with imitation. In this project we are focusing on the compositional forms of the Canon and Ricercar and the ensuing developments that followed.
In the 14th century, the canon appears, a rigorous imitation of a longer melodic line or of an entire piece. At the time such compositions were called "caccia" in Italy, or "chasse" in France, which means “hunting". While these informal compositions could have simply gotten their name from the subject matter of the text, one hypothesis of the caccia's origins posits that its successive entries gave the impression that the voices are in fact chasing each other.
Canon means law. The canon formally first appeared in the 15th century as a single melody to which signs would be attached that dictated not only the subsequent entries but also the method of imitation, for example by inversion or retrogression, thus indicating the law of execution. The first western Lutes and the first western examples of formal imitative counterpoint arrive at similar points in music history. It is for this reason that we found the Canon from Francesco Da Milano (1497-1543) an interesting starting point for our program.
Following this gothic concept of the Canon, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) combines his neoclassical approach to Sonata form with the hunting aspect of this Renaissance compositional technique in his Sonatina Canonica Op. 196. Following Luigi Dallapiccola’s example, using Paganini material for his own canonical uses, from 1943, Castelnuovo-Tedesco paraphrased material from Domenico Scarlatti and created his first egalitarian canonical chamber work for two guitars in 1961.
The next stage of canon that we are exploring is the exceptionally tonal work of Steve Reich from 1996 (or. 1994) , Nagoya Guitars (or. Marimbas). While it is not a canon in the rigorous sense of the word, one still experiences the “hunt” aspect of the medium through his usage of stepped phasing. Reich himself admits that the majority of his work is based on canons in his 2002 writings.
The other line of imitative contrapuntal lineage that we are exploring is that of the imitative Ricercar. First explored by Francesco Spinacino in 1507, one sees a true melding of the minds in the geniuses on the 16th century in Francesco Da Milano’s over 100 unique Ricercari and Fantasia for lute.
The idea behind the imitative Ricercar is to “seek out” every permutation of a given theme or motive. With this information we are well suited to see how this form lends itself so well to the development of the fugue. The Preludes and Fugues from J.S. Bach show a direct lineage to the Ricercari of the 16th century in both it’s preludial function to search out a tonality and in it’s function as an instrumental parallel to the motet in using variation and permutation as it’s binding force of musical organisation.
Jumping forward to the 21st century we see Eduardo Frigatti using similar techniques to Tedesco and Reich in his appropriation of free counterpoint, hocket, and imitation. In his usage of the polish Gregorian chant, "Cor Jesu Sacratissimum,” we see a truly modern practice of imitative counterpoint.
Attendance is free.