BROERMAN: The Wake; Without Name, Without Trace; Discarded Flowers; Aeons and the Demiurge; Pater Meus; For All We’ve Lost; Theurgic ; In Seeking Repose; Only the Living (for Carrie)
CD and 28 page book of the entire contents (sold separately) available direct from Donald Broerman
Ohio guitarist/ composer Donald Broerman has been writing and playing guitar for a long time now and here he has produced a self – printed book of nine self – composed pieces and has also brought out a CD of the same pieces played by him.
As the Preface states, every piece has a story behind it which really does help, when about to play these pieces. The order of the book and the CD is slightly different, which I found a little odd, because I would have thought that both would have been identical in their order, but this is not the case. So I am reviewing them from the order that the book is in.
The first think to say is that nearly all the pieces are about sad or upsetting events which of course impacts on the pieces when you play or hear them. The first one The Wake is all about being at a wake and all the sadness that represents .Therefore its speed of only 50 crotchets a minute and the marking ‘Steady like a Dirge’ just about describes the piece that begins with two or three note crotchets that rock backwards and forwards with lots of D to Eb, or D to E clashes in the midst of slightly unusual chords. Then a high melody sits on top of the dirge chords, resulting in a set of large chords mostly in triplet crotchets laced with discord. A varied repeat of these factors leads to a gloom - ridden final coda.
Without Name, Without Place, describes the person who has no home and is without a name and is an Andante that begins on some swiftly spread clashing chords laced with harmonics, before a 4/4 and 3/4 mixed set of bars with slightly off beat chords occurs. This then leads to a sad set of harmonies with a restless feel as they go in and out of different keys as the music progresses. The original themes then return in another key entirely before the coda, similar in style to the opening , and takes the piece to its final tragic close.
Pater Meus is written about his late father and veers between slow and expressive moments, interlaced with sudden fast and furious sections that provide a significant contrast. It is one of the longest pieces in the book, and looks as if it is going to reach a climax until the slow opening melody returns and everything closes on three long and sad chords.
Discarded Flowers is about what the title suggests, and is set in a mixture of 3 /4 and 4/4 with moments of 5 and 6 beats too. The style here is a little more harmonic and apart from the moments of 4s, at times feels a little like a waltz and is a little happier at times, although this is only momentary.
Aeons and the Demiurge is a complex piece the story of which is quite detailed and not appropriate here for space reasons. Suffice it to say that there are a number of descriptions above various parts of this piece to help the player know which part is describing which bit of the story. It has a number of sections where an open B clangs against other fretted notes and chords, and then moments where a chord full of deliberately clashing notes rakes up and down the strings mixed in with staccato bass notes and triplet runs flying up and down the fingerboard. Near the end these clashing chords return and everything closes in a very uneasy way where the player has to tune the notes played down, and back up while playing until the final B on the sixth string where the player tunes the string down gradually and evenly, and the piece finishes here.
For All We’ve Lost is only one page, and has an unusual tuning of 6 to D, 5 to F , and 4 to A .This however is not as difficult as you might think because those three newly tuned strings now make up a very low Dm chord, which continues unchanged throughout the piece’s duration. It is topped by a serious melody that begins with long notes and then suddenly resorts to semi – quaver tambora chords very offbeat rhythmically .A repeat from the beginning then has the tambora chords different this time rhythmically and everything ends on this chord of Dm as a rasgueado.
Theurgic is apparently a dark magic that can make deity do a human’s bidding. This begins Andante with a solo line that then develops a second voice until a third then enters. From here on in, bars of 4, 5, and 6 beats intermingled create a flowing set of harmonies, often around chords, and going through several keys in their journey forward. In the middle there is a section marked freely, before the original tempo and themes return for a final time leading to a coda in F#.
In Seeking Repose takes the player and listener on a journey where emotions play a large part, some of them peaceful, and some of them not so peaceful as the heartache anyone seeking solace might feel when trying to rid themselves of the negative thoughts. It is an Andante at its opening that begins with long held chords underneath a reflective melody. This then suddenly turns into a running semi – quaver section before another more peaceful idea intervenes. An Adagio now takes the piece deeper and darker, leading to a section of harmonics atop a set of ordinary played notes. The Andante then resumes this time as a set of triplet semi – quavers that fly around until a final Adagio, itself a variation of the opening Andante theme, leads us to a coda with a long rallentando and a final chord of a G chord.
The final piece Only The Living, named after his wife Carrie is a page of writing set at the very low speed of 35 crotchets a minute and mostly consisting of a set of gently moving crotchets beginning in pairs and then later turning into sets of three notes briefly, over which a gentle melody occasionally takes over.
The pieces themselves are definitely only for moderately advanced players as some of the areas that they cover are not going to be playable by even intermediate players. The entire book is, as the writer explains, full of deep, dark, and upsetting pieces, with the harmonies and guitar writing definitely giving the player those sets of emotions as he/ she plays. As for the accompanying CD of the same contents, well, it isn’t a laugh a minute by any stretch, with the playing sounding very accomplished, even if the sound quality could be slightly better at times.
That said, if the music of this composer sounds like it might appeal, then here is a pair of items that you might definitely like !