Guitar and Dance: Theme and Variations

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When Japanese dancer Mary Katakura improvised on a previously recorded guitar transcription of mine, I sent her one of my recordings. Quickly thereafter, Mary decided to get to work…

Despite the challenges of being in completely remote places in the middle of a global pandemic (we have never met in person), our mutual appreciation of both dance and music led to this collaboration and friendship.

Before they write, they draw. As soon as they stand, they dance.”
— Phylicia Rashad, American actress

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The main theme of the piece is based on ‘Album fur die Jugend’ by Robert Schumann and freely adapted for guitar by Angelo Gilardino, were the material is repeated six times in an altered form, which are called ‘variations’. Each with their own distinctive character:

Variation 1

A downbeat of a harmonic third interval can be heard, where the main theme slightly shifted ‘off beat’. The composer wrote a bass melody to fill in space created by rhythmic augmentation of the theme (lengthening note values of the melody)

Variation 2

The bass counter melody becomes more distinctive due to the use of triplets (pulse split into three equal note values)

1st collaboration

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Variation 3

A shift takes place where the main melody seems to be hidden in the middle voice and a new upper melody is introduced. Yet the theme remains recognizable as each melody note aligns with every pulse of this variation.

Variation 4

Septuplets (seven notes in one pulse) throughout, where each third note of the arpeggio pattern shapes the melody.

Variation 5

The theme can be heard in the bass part, where the top voice (yet another new melody) consistently moves in countermotion.

Variation 6

Although similar, the melody itself is slightly altered with a new harmonization. However, by now, the listener should be familiar enough with the material to still hear a connection.