Percussion duo, played on one acoustic guitar
Instruments: one acoustic guitar
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SEESAW (2020) is scored for two percussionists who perform on one shared acoustic guitar. The piece was commissioned by the New Works Project, which organized a consortium of 31 musicians from around the globe to support the creation of this work.
The idea of multi-instrumentalism is often a foreign concept in the world of academic music. Classical musicians are often trained via a hyper-focused path on one singular instrument. Meanwhile in other genres, hopping from one instrument to the next is often a normal part of being a musician. Prince, Dave Grohl, and others have recorded entire albums on their own, playing every single instrument and singing every lyric and vocal line. I love this.
Having grown up a self-taught guitar player and sort of hiding that from my classical self, I decided to embrace it with SEESAW. I’ve taken what I know about guitar playing and percussion and have written something where both instruments meet. There are moments when the guitar is used as a percussion instrument, with the players striking the instrument in various areas with sticks to produce different sounds and colors. There are also moments that feature guitar techniques like harmonics, hammer-ons and pull-offs. The piece is notated in tablature, which facilities a non-traditional string tuning and is how I first learned to read guitar music. While the piece was written for percussionists to perform, I can also imagine guitar players performing it by exploring and learning about the various percussion techniques involved.
I hope I’ve created a work that challenges performers and listeners to embrace multi-instrumentalism, and for performers, to explore an instrument they may not have otherwise.