Scars Wounds & Lacerations: Guitar Music of Gene Pritsker
- Featured: Greg Baker
- Release Date: 8/7/2008
Anyone interested in Composers Commentary: Scars, Wounds, and Lacerations plus Snow to Numb the Effect: Scars, Wounds, and Lacerations plus Snow to Numb the Effect is the title of a set of four classical guitar solos describing various afflictions left on our beings from life's hard journey and the remedies we use to soothe them. The first movement, Scars, is influenced by the music of Spain and draws on inspiration from Joaquín Rodrigo in the way it develops and treats it's material. The second movement, Wounds, takes a one bar melody and reiterates it throughout the piece like a wound that will not heal. The third movement, Lacerations, is influenced by Brazilian guitar styles. It is a light dance piece that's sensitive and rhythmically flowing. In the last movement, Snehg (Russian for Snow), we numb or alleviate our pain from the other three movements. This could come in the form of drugs or just tuning it out. The music floats in a carefree manner and releases us, if only for a little while, from our emotional blemishes. Quaaludes & Fugues (Book 1): The first book of Quaaludes & Fugues has three of each and is written for the electric guitar. The title is a play on the baroque prelude and fugue and tries to stay true to the meaning of the fugue while modifying the meaning and content of the prelude. In baroque music the prelude is usually repetitive and not too complicated with a rhythm that permeates throughout. The Quaaludes keep this characteristic but add an element of tranquility and transience through drug-like induced word painting. Fugues No. 1 and 3 are three voiced fugues, but No. 2 is a two voiced fugue with a one beat delay, making it simultaneously a fugue and cannon. Various guitar pedal effects are used for each Quaalude to compliment the contemplative and dreamy sound. Distortion, chorus, flanger, and delay effects are used to vary the sound of the electric guitar and highlight it's versatile pallet. Two Dances from Satan's Great Ball: Two Dances from Satan's Great Ball is written for four classical guitars and takes it's title from Mikhail Bulgakov's great novel The Master and Margarita. Both movements are inspired by various dances and ostinati. Using the guitar's percussive qualities, the melodic material is developed with various rhythmical elements and gets treated with Brazilian rhythms, Stravinsky-like ostinati, rock grooves, and African syncopations and rhythms, etc. The Devil loves the guitar as four of them bang away for his great ball. Dead Souls: Dead Souls is written for solo classical guitar and is influenced by the clave rhythm of Cuban Son. It uses a catchy minor melody and develops it with many variations. The title is taken from the great unfinished novel by Nikolai Gogol. The poet Pushkin said of Gogol that 'behind his laughter you feel the unseen tears.' This is exactly how Son feels to me, so I pair these two unlikely companions in art in this short guitar composition. Requiem: After the events of September 11, 2001 I needed to write a piece of music that expressed my confused emotions at that time and immediately wrote a piece called N.Y. Sept. 11th, Requiem for violin, saxophone, percussion & samplestra (pre-recorded electronics). The group that I began writing for at that time thought the subject matter to intense and did not premiere the piece. I took the material and transformed it into Requiem, for solo electric guitar and samplestra. I, as well as guitarist Greg Baker, have performed some movements of the piece throughout the years. This recording is the first time all four movements are presented together as the piece was intended. Samplestra is the name I have given to any pre-recorded elements in my music. I see it as an orchestra of samples since I use little fragments of pre-existing music or sounds and manipulate them. I treat these samples as found objects with which to write new music. Some of the samples found in this composition are: Johannes Brahms' A German Requiem, a Pashtun love song from Afghanistan called Pashtu Ghazal, W. A. Mozart's Requiem, and a traditional Turkmen song from Iran . I try to fuse the musical culture of the West with that of the Middle East . It is my way of reconciling the events and violent aftermath of September 11, 2001. Still Laughing, Even Louder: Still Laughing, Even Louder is based on the music from an earlier orchestral piece of mine entitled And Laugh Even Louder. This work was denied a performance, so I wrote an answer to my disappointment with this classical guitar trio. The piece uses a simple pentatonic melody and develops it with various extended techniques. The piece ends with the melody set to a choral and is played non-concurrently and at different tempi creating an obscure and dreamy atmosphere. Baker / Pritsker Collaboration: Baker and Pritsker have been collaborating since 1988. While in high school, they started a guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboard/sax band called Fuze. Baker and Pritsker switched off on guitar and bass, David Alt was on sax and keyboard, and Morgan Gephardt was on drums. This group created their own music as well as deranged arrangements of jazz standards and symphonic works, incorporating elements that ranged from classical music to heavy metal. In the ensuing years, Gene Pritsker composed numerous solos, concertos, chamber works, and operas / stage works where Greg Baker took on the (or a) guitar part. In 1996, Greg Baker joined Pritsker's newly created eccentric band Sound Liberation, which expanded on the earlier experimentations of Fuze and has seen many manifestation through the years. This group has been devoted to performing Pritsker's original music. Gene Pritsker leads the group as a rapper/guitarist. Other longest sustaining members include: Charles Coleman - baritone, Mat Fieldes - bassist, Dave Gotay - rapper/cellist, and Dave Rosenblatt - drummer. The group has also manifested into The Sound Liberation Chamber Playas for chamber music performances. Sound Liberation has also teamed up with the brass ensemble B3+ for European and North American performances Pritsker's hip-hop opera Money. This current recording is a summary of Gene Pritsker's music where the classical or electric guitar is the primary instrument. Greg Baker - Guitarist: Greg Baker is an active guitarist performing and recording in settings from solo classical and electric guitar to chamber music to genre bending rock infused aggression. As a solo artist, his recordings include Scars, Wounds, and Lacerations - The Guitar Music of Gene Pritsker (2008) and Latin American Guitar Music (2002). His chamber recordings include Guitar with Flute, Mandolin, Violin and Recorder (1995). ? Greg Baker is a member of Sound Liberation - an eccentric rock/hip-hop/classical/jazz/world-music/techtronic influenced band. Sound Liberation regularly performs in North America and Europe. The band's new album, Open Up Your Ears and Get Some is on the Austrian Col Legno label. The band's first self-titled album is available at itunes. Greg Baker is a part of the New York area music scene and has performed in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, live on WNYC radio, and in a multitude of grungy downtown clubs. He has worked with and given NY premieres of music by many composers that include Gene Pritsker, Arthur Kampela, and Thea Musgrave. Greg Baker won Artists' International's Young Artist Auditions Chamber Music Award in 1994 and studied with Brazilian guitar master Carlos Barbosa-Lima. In addition he is a published arranger with Dover Publications. Greg Baker holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Teachers College, Columbia University. He currently lives and teaches in Northern New Jersey, in the great U.S. of A.
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