El Decameron Negro

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El Decameron Negro

Postby Tomzooki » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:23 pm

I am looking for some information concerning El Decameron Negro by Leo Brouwer. I would like infos concerning meanings and symbolic, particularily for the third movement, but also for the others. Thank you in advance!
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby Den » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:22 pm

I'm surprised that Wikipedia doesn't have a page on this great suite by Leo Brouwer! :shock:
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby NorthTexan » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:59 pm

The suite is based on a collection of African folk tales published by German anthropologist Leo Frobenius. I've heard that Brouwer read the stories in his youth, and later, when he decided to write the "El Decameron" he did not re-read the stories, rather he wrote about what he remembered. Also, I'm not sure if there's any mention of it in the published score of the work, but having seen what appears to be Brouwer's handwritten copy of the work, there is a note at the end that tells the player that "The 'ballads' can be played in any order." Based on that, when I played this piece several years back, I played the movements in the reverse order of how they are typically performed.
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby Giacomo Fiore » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:28 pm

+1 on what NorthTexan said.

The program as understood with Brouwer deals with a warrior that is ostracized from his tribe because of his love of music, only to return and save the tribe in times of war ("The Warrior's Harp"). "The flight of the lovers..." depicts a couple eloping on horseback and employs echo effects in almost onomatopoeic fashion. The last movement doesn't have any "specific" programmatic description, other than trying to convey the feelings of the love-struck girl in alternation with more dynamic (strife? opposition?) sections. I try to perform the movement with an overt contrast between the dreamy/lovestruck section and the more ebullient/restless ones.

In that light, the reverse order suggested by NorthTexan makes more sense from a narrative standpoint (contrasted love, eloping, returning to fight for the tribe).
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby kloeten » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:42 am

This is very interesting. I have learned the 2nd movement and now work on the 3rd. Objective is to perform the entire suite one day.
How do you deal with the 'drop D' when playing the full suite, I mean, is there an 'elegant' way of re-tuning when playing the full suite? How do you keep the flow intact?
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby Fabbri » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:12 pm

Two guitars? One tuned to D, the other to E. Or would the change of guitar upset your playing during a recital?
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby kloeten » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:18 pm

I wish I had two equally good guitars. YES I need an extra guitar immediately!! :)
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby Fabbri » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:46 pm

And not just equally good - they'd probably need to have the same feel and character so you could glide from one to the other. People who possess two guitars (and there are a lot of them in this forum) probably want their instruments to be significantly different, rather than having identical qualities. So, not a very helpful suggestion!
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby kloeten » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:21 pm

Fabbri wrote:So, not a very helpful suggestion!


Not at all, many rock guitarists do exactly what you suggest, so it could work if only I had another 'good' guitar.
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby w34z3l » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:07 pm

For those wondering about drop D tuning, it really shouldn't pose a big issue in this piece.

Tune your string down to D then give it a few decent tugs at around the 12th fret, then re-tune. Repeat. Usually I find myself subtly retuning during the first section if needed. There are a few easy spots. For example at the first sign just before the rall (end of bar 11) there is a good opportunity to give your 6th string a quick tweak seeing as the right hand is occupied with open strings (so the left hand is free). You can do this the first and second time you get there.

If tuning is bad there is an opportunity just before the pui mosso to adjust tuning, but I avoid this usually, it takes away impetus from the second section. But, that is preferable to playing the whole pui mosso with a nasty 6th string.

Btw, tuning your guitar while playing should be a pretty normal thing for you to get used to doing. In this instance you already know that your 6th string is going to be sharp, so it's not as if you need to work out why your guitar sounds terrible.

You will find that with the classical guitar there is no such thing as "standard", nor is there universally any such thing as "perfect" tuning. Actually you want your guitar to be slightly out of tune to add a special richness to the chords associated with this piece.

The most important things regarding tuning for this piece ----> You want to check G on the 6th string, G on the 4th string, and open G on 3rd string to make sure they are in tune. You then want to balance this by making sure both D major chords are in tune and rich sounding. (The one with F# on 4th string and the one with F# on the 1st string). Having a nice rich slightly flattened F# on 4th string is obviously going to counter your efforts to keep your G's in tune (imortant for the pui mosso) but if you can find an acceptable balance between these two, it means your guitar is going to sound well tuned throughout this piece. A final thing to check is your 5th string D with your 4th string open D. This is actually less important than the previous two things, but the second pui mosso can sound awkward if your 4th string is overly flattened to produce that nice F# - but flatten the 5th string also to help you bridge this compromise.

Sorry if that was overkill but I get pretty excited about tuning and stuff.
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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby Tarbaby » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:23 pm

Hi w34z3l and welcome!

Thank you, those are some good tuning tips! I, too, always check my "G's" in the manner that you describe. :wink:

May I invite you to tell us a bit more about yourself in the "Introduce yourself" section here?

You will get a proper welcome and some tips on how to get the most out of the Forum.

Have fun!

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Re: El Decameron Negro

Postby kloeten » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:27 am

w34z3l wrote:Sorry if that was overkill but I get pretty excited about tuning and stuff.


Not at all - I think I'll just transpose the 3rd movement to E :mrgreen:
Cheers Rutger
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