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John W. Duarte : Getaran Jiwa Op125: Doberman – Yppan

John W. Duarte

Doberman – Yppan: 11 pages

It is now coming up to 19 years since we lost this very talented and much loved guitar composer, and yet here we are again with another new piece. I am still amazed at just how many of these wonderful pieces never got published during his lifetime, but I am very pleased that they are now getting published, and that far from being the dregs, they are fabulous works.

This latest one, which translates as Vibrations of the Soul comes from a 1960 Malaysian film, and was a very popular song in it. His latest work has the structure of the Theme, 4 Variations and a Finale, which when you read the notes follows the emotional story of the actual film.

Set in D in 4/4 with a dropped D 6th the opening theme is in three main voices for the most time, and as with many of this composer’s pieces, the harmonic structure isn’t always what you might expect, as he does occasionally surprise the player, pleasant though they usually are. The theme does traverse the entire fingerboard and the accompaniment to the melody is often an actual chord or an arpeggio. The first variation continues in the same key but in 6/8, and here the mainly two –voiced structure has the melody sometimes in the treble , and occasionally in the bass with again plenty of accidentals to show you that you don’t stay in D Major all the way through. Things really take off with Variation No2, which is a Dm Doloroso 4/4 with aching harmonies underneath the varied melody line, and more reliance on block chords. In contrast Variation No3 is animated and a semi – quaver driven 2/4 back in D Major. The melody is usually amongst the moving line of semi – quavers and continues like that until the situation changes considerably and some abrupt chords made up usually of fourths take over, but do then lead back into the opening idea and then to the final coda. The final 4th Variation is slow and quiet, and alternates between a melody in natural harmonics, then followed by the melody in canon form in two voices in normal notes. This happens four times, each melody slightly different to the one before, and the coda closes on a harmonic note sequence and a chord of D in harmonics.

The Finale begins as a fast waltz in D , full of strangely unusual modulations , which after a repeat slows down into a new idea for 8 bars before returning to the opening speed , but very different musically. Another Meno Mosso takes over for a short while, but different to before, until finally an accelerando brings back the first Tempo for a final time and then to a Vivo which brings the entire piece into a fortissimo conclusion.

This is a great piece, very much in John Duarte’s style, and full of excitingly odd harmonic points that really do keep the player on his/her toes. Audiences will love this!

Chris Dumigan

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