Book of Grooves: I. A Spanish Groove, by Alejandro Viñao




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Published on Oct 31, 2013

Performed by arx duo
Garrett Arney and Mari Yoshinaga
Movement I - A Spanish Groove

Movement II - http://youtu.be/qtBSF_0s6tE
Movement III - http://youtu.be/shZZMFlKAUE
Movement IV - http://youtu.be/4aJ6D9lXNBY

The 'groove' or 'feel' of a piece is understood to consist of a pattern or sequence that repeats periodically in such a way as to create in the listener the desire to move, or dance, or to foot-tap following the repeated rhythm. A groove is therefore a rhythm 'locked' into a pattern of repetition. To 'unlock' a groove would mean -to some extent- to threaten its very existence. This is precisely what happens in this piece. The grooves are presented at first in their simple 'locked' form, so that the listener may swing unequivocally with the initial grooves. But gradually these grooves are 'unlocked', that is to say, they are subjected to transformations that change the point at which they repeat. In this way the shape of each groove is changed.

This involves a risk because the listener may stop feeling the 'desire to move' with the groove. If this were to happen, one could say that the groove has been 'killed'. My idea in Book of Grooves was to explore changes that would transform each groove without 'killing' it. It is a risky compositional strategy: new grooves must be created or 'cloned' from the original ones without disturbing the delicate balance that makes the music 'groove'.

If the piece is successful the listener should be able to follow the process of 'unlocking' or changing of the original grooves into new ones, and experience this as a voyage of transformation. But unlike what happens with grooves in popular music, in Book of Grooves the voyager never returns to the port of departure. The process is not cyclical but developmental. And yet, while the music material is permanently transforming into something new, I wanted to make sure that the listener would never ceases to 'swing' with a groove.

Alejandro Viñao studied composition with the Russian composer Jacobo Ficher in Buenos Aires. In 1975 he moved to Britain where he continued his studies at the Royal College of Music and the City University in London. He has been resident in Britain since then. In 1988 he was awarded a PhD. D. in composition at the City University.

In 1994 Alejandro Viñao was awarded the Guggenheim fellowship in composition. His piece Apocryphal Dances was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London in 1997. The same year Viñao was invited to Japan to present his music in a Portrait Concert. Later that year, his chamber opera Rashomon was premiered in Germany. This work was commissioned by ZKM for the opening of their new building in Karlsruhe. Since then Rashomon has been produced in Paris, London and Gothenburg.

Alejandro Viñao's music is characterised by the use of pulsed rhythmic structures to create large scale form, and by a melodic writing which -as in the case of much non-European music- develops through rhythm rather than harmony

Another strand of Viñao's output consists of a wide range of percussion works which are rapidly becoming standard repertoire in the concert hall and in the pedagogical world of the conservatory and the university.

arx duo is an electrifying new percussion duo featuring young artists Mari Yoshinaga and Garrett Arney. Their passion and excitement for the developing genre of percussion chamber music is palpable every time they take the stage. Born from a deep-seated respect for the score, their performances are powered by a strong symbiotic musical vision, and colored with a unique creativity. Their desire to forge new connections and artistic pathways - or "arcs" - within the genre, expanding the opportunities for percussion performance, forms the inspiration for the name "arx duo".

With a repertoire ranging from established masters to todays newest compositional voices, arx duo has worked closely with composers such as Alejandro Vinao, James Wood, and Gaudeamus Prize winner Ted Hearne. Always seeking opportunities to bring percussion to a wide variety of audiences, the group has recently collaborated with pianists Boris Berman and Lisa Moore.

The duo is the latest in the legacy of spectacular percussive chamber musicians coming from the Yale School of Music's percussion studio directed by Robert van Sice. arx duo performed at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in addition to performances and outreaches along the east coast. arx duo will debut in Japan this December, and will be the ensemble in residence at the Lake George Music Festival in New York.


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