a serenade for guitar
Strumming was commissioned in July 2012 by the Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival with funds provided by Gerry Mattock and Beryl Calver-Jones, and was first performed by Craig Ogden on October 20th 2012 in a recital at the church of St. John the Baptist, Penshurst – a concert given by the Festival in aid of the Save Penshurst Church Appeal.
Strumming, which plays for about twelve minutes without a break, is a passacaglia – a set of variations on a melodic bass-line. It falls into nine sections – though these flow into one another, and are not obvious. The first section is the passacaglia theme; the following seven sections are the variations upon the theme; and the ninth is a reprise of the theme itself.
A few touches subvert this simple structure. Each of the first four sections (theme and the first three variations) is preceded by a short introduction which sets out the eight-note mode (set of notes) used in that section. From the fifth section onwards, this introduction is dropped, because the following five variations (3-7) flow into one another, creating the Serenade which is the subtitle of the piece. This is a message of affection and gratitude to Beryl Calver-Jones and Gerry Mattock, who have given me such friendship and support for many years. The five verses of this serenade are separated by short rhythmic interruptions which remind me of a cheeky banjo. These gradually slow down, and a dreamy linking passage returns us to the passacaglia theme, which closes the piece.
Strumming is dedicated to Beryl Calver-Jones and Gerry Mattock, in gratitude for the wonderful support they have given British composers for many years.
October 1st 2012