Since it's invention in the 1930s, the electric guitar has occupied a prominent role in both U.S. and world musics. Through the initial success of Rock and Roll in the 1950s, and the resonance of folk and psychedelic influences in the '60s, this quintessential American instrument has acquired unprecedented cultural and social value; consider for example the iconic status of "guitar heroes" as diverse as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chet Atkins, Buddy Holly, and Jimi Hendrix. Classical composers were quick to take note of the instrument's possibilities, too-Stockhausen was among the first to incorporate it in a concert piece, specifying an electric guitar part in the second orchestra of Gruppen (1955-57). Composers have since turned to the electric guitar for a variety of reasons: increased timbral and dynamic range; ease of electronic processing and manipulation; distance from the sometimes inescapable Iberian connotations of it's nylon-string cousin; and-conversely-the ability to invoke the sounds of many popular musics of our time. On this album, the electric guitar acts as a lens to bring into focus some of the compositional styles, aesthetics, and techniques of contemporary American music: mesmerizing post-minimal motives in Beglarian's until it blazes; sparse textures and indeterminate constellations in Wolff's another possibility; whimsical, lyrical writing in Porter's looping-based hair of the thing that bit you; and ever-changing just intonation soundscapes in Polansky's freeHorn. From a different viewpoint, these four works also exemplify the versatility of the electric guitar as a medium-far from relying on idiomatic clichés, each approach showcases the wide range of timbral, contrapuntal, and expressive possibilities that the instrument has to offer.
Until It Blazes
Hair of the Thing That Bit You
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