Bunagee is the name of a harbour in the north of county Donegal, Ireland. It is a beautifully picturesque place with the hills looking out over an estuary right next to the sea. This piece is inspired by the colours, sounds and smells of those surroundings, where I have spent many hours walking or simply staring out at the scenery. After a spacious introduction, the piece briefly quotes a very delicate Irish folk song, ‘Starry Night’, which is used as a starting point for everything that follows. The G string is tuned up to an A, giving a more prominent drone with the lower 4 strings now tuned to D, A, D, A. This also allows more unusual voicings of chords than would be possible in standard tuning. I have also drawn inspiration from my friend and former teacher, Gary Ryan, whose teachings and compositions and have been a continuous source of inspiration for many years.
The Middle-Eastern sound-world is one that is very far removed from that of the classical guitar, and a style of music that is still slightly alien to the ‘Western’ ear. There seemed to be a lack of music written for the instrument in this style, and Mirage is something that I have wanted to write for many years.
The piece begins with a slow, spacious and improvisatory introduction, which uses a mixture of Arabic scales that imitate the small inflections and embellishments of Arabian singers. This then leads into a dance-like movement, where the instrument is used to imitate the sounds and stylings of sitar playing, with two strings playing the melody in unison (preferably slightly out of tune with one another!). From then on, much like a mirage, the piece morphs into something entirely different, with the material becoming increasingly contemporary and Western, before reaching a climax and briefly slipping back into echoes of the opening.
Loved by audiences yet often feared by players, tremolo is something that often eludes those of us who try to master it. I have often felt that tremolo technique is not explained in the right way, and that some core concepts are even fundamentally misunderstood. This method aims to dispel some of those misconceptions about tremolo technique, offering a thorough, detailed explanation of how to perceive, approach and practice tremolo. Also included are my own editions of Un Sueno en la Floresta, Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios, which aim to offer more practical and musical fingerings to help the pieces truly sing, as well as a more helpful way to notate tremolo throughout the pieces.
Inishowen is the name of a peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland, where my family home is. This piece is dedicated to my mother, who, at the time of writing, has suffered with a terrible illness called ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for over 13 years. I wanted to write a piece that was both uplifting and full of hope, as well as something that borrowed from my Irish heritage and Irish folk music, which I have always loved. My father also used to play the Uilleann Pipes, an instrument with a wonderfully haunting sound, so I’ve tried to emulate some of the melodic stylings and inflections of Irish pipe playing during the good old-fashioned ‘knees-up’ towards the end of the piece.
Inishowen is a place full of childhood memories for me and is somewhere that I’ve always been sure I will return to one day – most likely when I’m too old and doddery to pluck any more strings!