violin (using scordatura - the E string is tuned to D), marimba, vibraphone, tamburello, darabuka, rattles, casaba, saw, crotales, bows commissioned by Fiddlesticks (Madeleine Mitchell and Ensemble Bash)
Gharnati takes as its inspiration and starting point the music of the Moorish Civilisation that flourished in Andalucia (Al-Andaluz) up to the late 15th century. This culture was at the time the most sophisticated in Europe, and its music had a profound influence on the music of the troubadours and the European Courts of the time, and hence on the development of Western art music. It survives to this day in the Andalusian Music of the Maghreb. The piece is developed as a set of variations which create a suite of dances, somewhat in the Western tradition, but adheres strictly to the unstable Andalusian mode Zaydan, which is based on D with a ‘tonic’ of G, and which has alternating forms with major or minor third and sixth, and flattened or sharpened seventh. Its rhythmic schema is derived from that of the Tarab Gharnati (Granada), one of the great surviving compositions of the Andalusian culture. It may help to remind us of the huge debt we owe to Islamic civilisation. A version for unaccompanied violin was premiered by Madeleine Mitchell in November 2006 at the Palais des Congrès, Marrakesh as part of the conference and exhibition “Morocco in Western Art". The full version was premiered in Cardiff on October 2nd 2007, as part of the Red Violin Festival.
'Gharnati' was commissioned by the violinist Madeleine Mitchell and the percussion group Ensemble Bash, as part of their collaboration 'Fiddlesticks'. It explores, in a contemporary music context, the relationship between the Andalusian (Moroccan) and Western Classical musical traditions. When the Andalusian culture was driven out of Spain in the Reconquista, its remnants moved to the Maghreb, carrying its musical traditions with them. This highly developed art music has been preserved there, particularly in Morocco, until now. What is not well-known is that this music was a key factor in the development of Western art music. At the time that it was flourishing in Spain, it served as a model for the courtly music of the Western European Kingdoms – its system of unstable modes leading eventually to the modulatory key system, and its structure of an extended series of related movements (Tarab) to the suite and variation forms.
In Gharnati I play this relationship out in a set of variations which form a series of dances as in the Suite form, seeming to modulate, but in fact adhering strictly to the Andalusian mode Zaydan and the rhythmic schema of the Tarab Gharnati. The music refers explicitly to Baroque and pre-Boroque playing styles, and to the present day playing style of Moroccan Andalusian music. These are filtered through a contemporary musical vocabulary and style. This commission was an opportunity to draw attention to the continuing cross-fertilisation between Islamic and Western cultures, and the crucial contribution of Islamic arts and sciences to the development of European culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
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Works for Percussion by this Composer