Canonic Transformations

(2013) for guitar quartet

In composing these pieces I reflected on my own experiences with somewhat conflicted aesthetics of electric guitar playing in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This was typified to me in the playing of Eddie Van Halen, specifically in his seminal unaccompanied guitar solo “Eruption”. It exemplifies the period in the electric guitar’s development when many players—Van Halen perhaps supreme among them—combined machismo and showmanship with virtuosity and erudition in their playing. From this starting point I developed a series of pieces in which minute gestural components from recordings by Van Halen and a diverse group of others, such as Vernon Reid and Derek Bailey, are explored and deconstructed through canonic compositional structures involving repetition and process. Each gesture is pushed to its limits and beyond, where it breaks down and transmutes into something different and unexpected.

Written for and performed by Dither Guitar Quartet, February  2013.

Click here for the score of part 1.