Guitar Composition

The purpose of this guide was to investigate the development of a new approach to guitar composition, to disclose and credit experimentalists for liberating the guitar from its Spanish-classical genre, to make cogent realizations concerning the problems and timidity composers experienced while writing for the instrument and to closely examine compositions by composers who contributed to the new repertoire. Throughout the formulation of the study, historical research and analysis methods, including collaborations with noted composers, have been employed to assess the treatment and development of the guitar into new musical forms.

This class is exclusively limited to music written for the nylon-strung acoustic guitar, although in some cases, the program refers to the use of the electric guitar. Whether gut or steel strings were used before the marketing of nylon strings is irrelevant in this plan since nearly all compositions discussed would appropriately be performed with today’s nylon-strung classical guitar.

This thought process is presented in two sections: Pre-World War II Central Europe and The New Guitar Repertoire. The first section primarily examines the cultural heritage of contemporary guitar music in Central Europe, with specific emphasis placed on the contributions by the early dodecaphonic, epic opera and “Gebrauchsmusik” (utilitarian music) composers. The second section involves the use of the guitar by post-Webern serialists, its function in aleatory music, and, most importantly, its potential as a new timbral resource. All composers represented in these two sections have been selected in order to show the extraordinary interest in the guitar by distinct coteries of composers interested in extending the boundaries of conventional musical forms.

From a theoretical point of view, the writing concludes that the guitar is an instrument intrinsically suitable for pentatonicism and chromaticism, whereas there are restrictions (employing conventional tuning and techniques) of its practical use in certain diatonic keys. Thus, to compose music for the instrument, which extends beyond these parameters, requires a great deal of knowledge regarding applied techniques as well as the timbral potential of the guitar. Conclusions of the program from a musicological point of view reveal that a particular trend in using the guitar occurred among composers who eventually emancipated the role of the guitar from its Spanish-classical genre.