Traditional, arranged by Mark Small
Les Productions D’Oz : Score and separate parts : (6, 3, and 3 pages respectively)
Spirituals often have an emotional connection with many people and this pairing by Mark Small, is certainly no exception. It is written in one movement beginning with Were You There, one that many people would recognize (isn’t it a shame that so many pieces like this have no known composer? It would be wonderful if all those traditional pieces we all know would actually have a composer’s name attached to them!)
Immediately the melody begins in guitar 2 with some lovely but slightly unexpectedly harmonised chords in guitar 1.The harmonies in the entire piece tend to be beautiful but at times, not obvious, so that they really stand out. The parts do swap the melody every few bars so that no one guitar just gets the accompaniment. Incidentally guitar 2 has a dropped D 6th, although the score doesn’t tell you that. After one complete run through the melody in the initial home key of D Major, the key changes at bar 21 into G Major, a key change which brings a completely new outlook on the piece and its harmony world. After this second time through the melody, a set of artificial harmonics in guitar 1 takes us directly into the second piece, which is Good – Bye Brother a spiritual I didn’t actually know, but which is a more bluesy, 12/8 song, with some lovely harmonies that do add considerably to the warmth of the music. This second melody is a bit more difficult to play, but nothing is too advanced, although you do need a good knowledge of the entire fingerboard for this section. After a quite dramatic run through, the piece then reaches the coda with a ritardando and rubato, and then leading to a final G7 chord with B flats hammering onto the B natural for the final phrase.
My duet partner and I really enjoyed this piece and found it utterly enjoyable and a great deal of fun to get our fingers around. I think you will too!