Monday, 4 September 2017

When Sunny Gets Blue (for solo guitar)

'Blue Lady', Pablo Picasso 1902

This has to be one of the great jazz standards (composer Marvin Fisher), one I recall with pleasure from my guitar-pickin' days. I have arranged it for either classical guitar or finger-style jazz guitar.
Listen to my (Sibelius) recording by clicking the orange 'Play' button below:

 If you'd like a pdf copy of the sheet music, please contact
and I'll zap it to you.

Here's a preview:

If you're performing it, take your time and indulge yourself with some some expressive rubato. Unlike some Youtubers who scamper along breathlessly in a vain attempt to impress listeners, I prefer to respect the deeply melancholic mood of the lyrics. 'Fast' is not necessarily always good. So if you happen to enjoy a particular chord, note or phrase, do linger on it for a moment rather than obey the strict written rhythm. Spending a little extra time on a note or chord is in fact a trick of adding agogic emphasis - ie, simply by drawing attention to it. My mp3 recording (Sibelius 7.1 software) recording does indeed take some such liberties. Dat's jazz.

Besides, the more chromatic the harmony becomes, the more time it requires time to 'breathe' ... the ear needs time to process it. Try imagining Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde' at tempo allegro.

Another point: as usual with guitar notation, it is often effective for the sake of sonority to hold the notes of a chord beyond their written value. Accurately notating music in that way can complicate notation to the point of un-readability. Much interpretive responsibility, therefore, rests in the hands of the performer to make appropriate idiomatic decisions about which notes to hold - or, indeed, to shorten.

This is the exact corollary... the choice of which notes or chords to shorten. It was the pianist Artur Schnabel, no less, who quipped: "The notes I handle no better than many pianists, but the pauses between the notes - ah - that is where the art resides." Mahler appeared to echo that in his comment: "What is best in music is not to be found in the notes." I sometimes draw the analogy of the artist using touches of pure white as highlights in a painting - or even leaving some areas as bare canvas. The strategic placement of pure white silences, even tiny ones, is a crucial tool for any performer.

So in reality, the printed music might be understood as a sophisticated form of mudmap, a mere catalogue of suggestions. Spinning it into magic is up to you, the intuitive performer.

 There are more of my arrangements in the sidebar -->

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