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“The Art of Flamenco”

The Flamencos of Cadiz BayAt the outset of discussing setting The Mapmaker’s Opera with Béa as a Musical, I indicated that I would try to suffuse the Musical with a true sense of ‘toque’: an expression referring to all aspects of the guitar in Flamenco.  As alluded to in my previous discussion on this subject, that pretty much put the cat amongst the pigeons!

As part of my this journey trying to adapt my classical guitar technique to something resembling very ham-fisted flamenco guitar performance; whilst simultaneously attempting to come to grips with all aspects of Flamenco music theory, I also embarked on a journey to read as much as I could about Flamenco in general.  There are a few books that are simply just worth reading for the sheer joy of their narrative.

The first of these is a biographical memoir by the English writer, Gerald Howson.  The book is The Flamencos of Cadiz Bay.  Originally written prior to 1965, and relating to Howson’s sojourn in Spain between 1954-7; ostensibly as an ESL teacher, the book was re-published in a second edition in 1993 with commentary by the author reflecting on his own writing nearly thirty years prior and the way that life in Spain had radically changed.  You have to keep reminding yourself that this is not a novel, and that the author is relating stories of his own experience.  Captivating from beginning to end, Howson’s Spain Continue Reading →

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The Mapmaker’s Opera is coming!

Well hello again and welcome back! I can think of few things more frustrating than putting together a web site about a new Musical and then for that project to go into hiatus. If you’ve been following (or in this case, not following) progress on The Mapmaker’s Opera, you might have surmised by now that there has been quite a period of gestation with this new theatre work. The reasons for the elongated delay in moving this project forward are multifaceted. In short, however, it primarily comes down to the composer (myself) having utterly failed to come to grips with the complexities of Flamenco music that underpins the musical style of this new Musical. Abashedly, I failed to understand the complexities and sublime sophistication of baile, cante and toque, notwithstanding exhibiting a parallel naivety in respect to compás and the various palos of Flamenco. Jump forward a few years: Continue Reading →

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From Barcelona to home

I spent only two days in Barcelona on Sunday and Monday of this week just gone.  It wasn’t enough time.  Other than seeing the inspiring architecture of Gaudi, my wife and I visited the Museu de la Música with its permananent collection of musical instruments from antiquity to the present day – although I must say that I don’t think that an mp3 player should count!

The collection of instruments from The Americas was most informative especially for the guitar and wooden flute collection.  So how many of these instruments can you picture:  Charango, Requinto, Chillador, Poro, Antara, Kamhu purru, Flauta de bec doble, Pinquillo, Chirimia and Tarque?  Well, I knew two (the first two) but the rest remain a mystery to me as to when they are used, by whom and for what musics?  Oh well, this is the front-end of research when trying to absorb new knowledge about music from different cultures.

The other place that we visited in Barcelona – purely for enjoyment – was the Palau de la Música Catalana. Continue Reading →

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Welcome to the Mapmaker’s Opera – The Musical!

Welcome to The Mapmaker’s Opera – The Musical.  Well, finally, the site has gone live after many months of preparation.  A big thanks to Chris Stevens without whom none of this would be possible.

I assume that if you are visiting here, that you have at least a passing knowledge of the novel of the same name by Ms. Gonzalez, on which this musical adaptation is based.  If not, then you have the joy of discovering this novel all ahead of you!

My blog page on this web site has been created to allow interested individuals to communicate with me whilst the process of writing music to Victor Kazan’s lyrics for The Mapmaker’s Opera – The Musical proceeds over the next twelve months.  Right now, I’m in Spain doing research on Flamenco which will inform some of the music in the score.  During my visit, I have come to realise that Flamenco is not only Continue Reading →

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