BOOK OF VARIATIONS: Four independent, short and easy set of variations for solo guitar
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The main reason for writing ‘The Book of Variations’, which comprises of four independent sets of variations, is the lack of major musical forms (including form of variations) in the repertoire for initial teaching of the classical guitar.
Many teachers asked me to write variations that would fit on 2-3 pages, which would be played by classical guitar beginners as well as those with more advanced skills.
I decided to write pieces that would meet these requirements. I also wrote in a way to allow for loose interpretations, offering variety in musical language, colour and character. In terms of compositional material, these variations contain not only technical challenges (such as legato, arpeggio etc.), but also musical intricacies (like counterpoint, polyphony etc.), which are rarely found in guitar literature for beginners.
In addition to this, I decided to use national elements from three countries that are all close to my heart: Poland, Taiwan and Japan. Using original folk melodies from each country, I gave each variation the character and sound of one of the cultures. In the Polish variations, I referred to distinct Polish dances (polonaise, mazurka). In the Japanese and Taiwanese variations, I drew from the idiomatic characters of their cultural instruments, such as: pipa, guzheng, koto, taiko, biwa or shamisen. Going further, to distinguish the Polish variations in their compositional material – I decided to write them in two different (particularly in the element of harmony) styles: classical and impressionistic.
Each set of variations can be played in as subjective a manner as desired, dependent on the performer’s imagination and technical skill. I have left much of the performance markings to the discretion of the performer, including range of tempos, usage of capodastre, dynamics or repetitions of each variation.
I hope that ‘The Book of Variations’ presented here will bring a lot of joy to initial learners as well as more advanced guitarists and their teachers too. Have fun!
This set of variations has been commissioned by, and is dedicated to, Mr Tomasz Polak,
May 2019 | Kyoto, Japan