Primo Volo for solo classical guitar and Urban Mosaic for solo electric guitar (other guitar music)

I have composed a variety of music for guitar. A few solo and duo classical guitar pieces, a couple of quartets, an electric guitar concerto with percussion ensemble and some mixed ensemble works. This doesn’t count concert music without guitar – mostly student stuff – a few a cappella pieces, solo piano music, solo clarinet, string quartet, etc..

Since 2006, I’ve composed only electroacoustic music using guitars in various contexts.

I’ll talk a little about 2 solo guitar pieces composed around the same time: Urban Mosaic for solo electric guitar (2002) and Primo Volo (2003) for solo classical guitar. This entry will talk mostly about Primo Volo.

Why these two pieces? Well, to be quite honest, I feel they are my best work for guitars outside of my electroacoustic music. If I were like some old masters, I’d destroy some of my older scores (nowadays it would involve more deleting), but I don’t take myself  THAT seriously and I’d probably end up feeling badly about it..

My composition, Primo Volo (Italian for “First Flight”) was composed for the New York City based guitarist Oren Fader and released on an album of compositions dedicated to him called, First Flight (released in 2005).  I also worked as producer and editor for the recording. To be so involved with the making of this album was a great experience.  Oren is the consummate musician (an incredible sightreader especially for a guitarist) and an all around great guy.

Primo Volo was composed in one month in Spring 2003.  Oren performed it many times (a composer’s dream…), so it had a nice life outside of the manuscript.

Primo Volo (p.1) – Marco Oppedisano

I must note that this piece was composed without picking up the guitar at all. Just Finale and me. I studied classical guitar in the conservatory seriously for 2 years and throughout my career, I’ve played and recorded various fingerstyle pieces, so I’m quite familiar with the style and technique.

For example: Here’s a recording of me playing It Ain’t Necessarily So by George Gershwin (arr. by Howard Morgen). (recorded back in 2000 on a late 50’s Gibson ES 175 – amazing instrument)

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/25547198/01%20It%20Ain%27t%20Necessarily%20So%20%28Gershwin_Morgen%29.mp3

As a guitarist, composing without the guitar prevented me from being too heavily influenced by certain habits or idiosyncracies.  I wanted the music to come more from my mind and ears and less from my hands. I highly suggest this method for any composer who is composing music for their own instrument and wants to try something different.

Primo Volo is a difficult work and I have never attempted to perform it, nor will I ever. Whenever I’ve composed a guitar piece for someone else, I’ve never thought of performing it myself. There’s a particular amount of satisfaction watching someone else play your music well – besides the relief of having someone else do the hard work….

I’ll avoid discussing the particulars of this work in depth.  To use a cliché , I’d rather let the music do the talking.  A few things though: The form of the piece deals with the contrast between slow and fast. Many facets of classical guitar technique are explored with a love for both natural and artificial harmonics. It’s also quite tonal – to my ears at least.

If anyone out there is interested in the score, let me know. For anyone who is feeling charitable, it is also available online for sale here at a reasonable price (along with some other music):

And finally here’s the video/score for Primo Volo in its entirety.

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Urban Mosaic (2002) for solo electric guitar was composed for the award winning classical guitarist, Kevin R. Gallagher.  The piece consists of 4 contrasting movements each focusing on a different electric guitar technique:

Mvt. 1 – “behind the nut”

Mvt . 2 – E-bow

Mvt. 3 – rock guitar solo

Mvt. 4 – fingerstyle ballad

Clocking in at a little over 14 minutes, Urban Mosaic is a demanding work. Gallagher is a highly versatile guitarist and masterful interpreter, so I had the freedom to compose a challenging piece for him. There are very few guitarists who possess the ability to perform on both the electric and classical guitar with the skill he can.

Also, the score is available for sale online here…

Here is a video score of the piece. Thanks for listening…

Hans Reichel

On November 22, 2011,  Hans Reichel passed away at the age of 62 – a master guitarist, improviser and instrument inventor. Thanks to my friend Chris Shaffer for turning me on to him a few years back.

I don’t listen to nearly as much guitar music anymore, but Reichel was one of those guitarists I never tired hearing.  A big influence on me although not always obvious in my music. He’ll be missed.

Suggested Hans Reichel listening:

Death of the Rare Bird Ymir

Coco Bolo Nights

Lower Lurum (features his wonderful daxophone)

Early stuff:

From a performance a few years back:

State of The Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words by Ralph Gibson

I had the great honor of being included in a photography book of guitarists in 2008 by the renowned photographer, Ralph Gibson. The book, State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words  (Museum Fine Arts Houston, October 28, 2008, preface by Les Paul) includes such luminaries as Bill Frisell, Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, Andy Summers, John Scofield, Pat Martino, Jim Hall and many others.

photo by Ralph Gibson (Marco Oppedisano)

A little bit about me and my music..

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I thought it was good time to start a blog.  So, welcome!  I’ll be posting here from time to time.

It also happens to be my 40th birthday.

For those of you who do not know me: I am a guitarist and composer from Brooklyn,  NY.  I presently live in the Sunnyside section of Queens, NY with my wife and daughter.

I began playing guitar at the age of 12. My father played and sang a little. so there was always a guitar in the house.  My formative years were spent learning rock and metal.  To make a long story very short (for now), I then went on to study music seriously, studied classical guitar for 2 years and ultimately got a BM in Music Composition from Brooklyn College/CUNY and an MA in Music Composition from Queens College/CUNY. I’ve studied composition with Noah Creshevsky, Charles Dodge, Tania Leon, George Brunner, Thea Musgrave, and Henry Weinberg.

Since 1999, my compositional focus has dealt with the use of electric guitar in the genre of electroacoustic music.

My earlier electroacoustic  stuff exclusively with guitars – music from 1999-2005 – focused on musique concrète works using the guitar more as a sound source. I wasn’t as concerned with playing the electric guitar conventionally as I was trying to coax different sound sounds out of it.  This period culminated in a compilation released in June 2007, called Electroacoustic Compositions for Electric Guitar. One track on this album includes the use of female voice, Karmicom (courtesy of my wife, Kimberly Fiedelman).

After this release, I started composing music with other sounds in addition to  electric guitar. I was thinking a bigger, more varied, denser, noisier, colorful, orchestral type of sound.  Also, in addition to  musique concrète works, I started writing music for “live” guitar and fixed playback. The Ominous Corner was released in September 2008. Pieces like Cityscape, The Ominous Corner and Renewal are examples of compositions with electric guitar and recorded playback. These compositions contain sounds ranging from processed simple waveforms, virtual instruments, female voice (my wife, Kim), samples, electric guitar and electric bass.

Here is video of a live performance of a piece for electric guitar and playback. Skimming the Surface (2007) is not available on any of my albums.

In June 2008, I also had the great pleasure of collaborating on an album with David Lee Myers (aka. Arcane Device) called Tesla at Coney Island.

My last album, Mechanical Uprising was released in July 2010.  This album also consists of pieces not meant for live performance. Different from my previous music, the album opener Kickstart (for those of you who still care about track placement) includes my first piece with drum samples. After playing in rock bands in my youth, I found it funny that I would wait this long to use real drum sounds.  I’ve called Kickstart a piece for “electroacoustic musique concrète virtual avant-rock band.” And speaking of firsts, Nocturne (the album closer) is my first solo electroacoustic work to use nylon string guitar.  Whereas The Ominous Corner was more of a departure from my debut compilation with the inclusion of a “live” electric guitar part, expanded sonic pallette and bigger sound,  Mechanical Uprising to me, is a culmination of my electroacoustic music with electric guitars written up to this point.  Lately, I’ve spent some time wondering what else I would like to do in this genre.

Earlier this year, I did compose a track for the very cool $100 Guitar Project (an excerpt of my piece Red Cent can be heard here). It will be part of a double CD release due out sometime next year.

I’ve included my links to Bandcamp because my albums can be heard in their entirety there (with a few free downloads), but my music is available through all the usual online digital stores (iTunes, Amazon, Emusic, etc.). Actual CDs can be purchased through CD Baby:

Marco Oppedisano and Marco Oppedisano & David Lee Myers

As for a new solo album,  I have started some work on it, but am thinking a different direction. Not sure what that direction will be yet, but when I find out, you all will be the first to know.