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Ming – Jui Liu : The Rainy Ketagalan Harbor for two guitars (GFA Spotlight series) : DOz

Ming – Jui Liu

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts: ( 8, 4, and 4 pages respectively)

Taiwanese composer Ming – Jui Liu was commissioned by the Guitar Foundation of America for this intriguing and enigmatic piece of writing for two guitars.

It begins with an Introduction called Once Upon A Time, and has a repeating pattern on guitar 2 that comes back later, which is apparently in Am but when guitar one enters at bar 3 there are A#s, and C#s in a high pitched melody that clash utterly with the harmonies being played underneath. After this four bar introduction, a maestoso instruction brings about a new idea where guitar one is playing a repeating pair of Es in demi – semi quavers whilst underneath managing a left – hand pull of too. Guitar two meanwhile has a moving shape written in longer triplet notes that moves around the fingerboard, again clashing with the open E in the top guitar. Then after a few bars the top guitar carries on this repeating E then runs swiftly down to a bottom A that is repeated as before, whilst guitar 2 now carries on with the repeating Es. The dissonant long held chords from a few bars before return for a varied repeat before both guitars launch into some very fast demi -semi – quaver passages full of pull- offs as they travel around the fingerboard. At the midway point, there is a section marked Nostalgia that slows the speed down considerably and reverts back to the opening guitar 2 pattern of bass notes and chords whilst the top part becomes somewhat more melodic .After this brief moment, both guitars play the opening introductory bars and a D.S. al Coda takes over. This brings the piece right up to the demi – semi – quaver pull-offs section, and then straight into the coda, where apart from a brief 4 bars of longer notes in both parts, the demi – semi – quaver patterns return, this time mixed with triplet semi – quavers in guitar 2 and a final four bars where the music quietens down to a final rasgueado Am6 chord.

I must be honest and say that I found this piece lacking somewhat, especially as the GFA were involved in its composition. The piece seems relentless for much of the time without the actual music being especially memorable, and the deliberate crunches in the harmonies not very attractive. However, I may be entirely on my own, thinking this, and so, as there are a couple of performances of this piece already on YouTube, you may wish to go and listen and make your own mind up.

Chris Dumigan

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