About this project
Since 2005, Duo
Orfeo has been performing and making recordings of music for classical guitar
duo. This album, I sing the body electric, is the first recorded fruits of our
foray into using electric guitars to interpret classical music. This began as a
curiosity a little over a year ago and has grown into something very special to
us, which we are eager and excited to share with you through this album.
The tone produced by electric guitars (in our case a 1969 Fender Jazzmaster and an ES-335 style arch-top by Hamer), through vintage tube amplifiers in a wash of spring reverb is stunningly gorgeous in and of itself and capable of immense subtlety, expressivity and power. We approach these instruments the same way we approach our classical guitars, manipulating the strings with our fingers to produce all the timbral and dynamic variations we need to bring the notes to life. There are no special effects here, just the magic of using a very familiar and beloved sound in a new way.
Of each of the five composers represented on this recording, Arvo Pärt, Eric Satie, Federico Mompou, John Cage and Valentin Silvestrov much could and should be said. They are all great, fascinating and important masters of 20th century music, but you can read more about that in Tyran Grillo‘s illuminating liner notes that will accompany the album. We’ll tell you a little about our relationship to these pieces and how they wound up on this album played on electric guitars.
Pärt’s Fratres and Spiegel im Spiegel, Satie‘s Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes, Mompou‘s Musica Callada, Silvestrov’s Quiet Songs and Cage’s In a Landscape: these titles, perhaps unfamiliar to some, are some of our favorite pieces in all of music. They share a remarkable unity of aesthetic. They are quietly powerful, deeply searching, beautifully simple and simply beautiful, qualities you do not find often enough in contemporary classical music. As much as we both loved this music though, we could never envision it working on classical guitars. As mentioned, we started trying some of this music on electric guitars out of curiosity, but soon found that we loved some of the sounds we were finding and that the expansiveness of the electric guitar sound was making those pieces come to life in a way that traditional classical guitars were not. And what’s more, our audiences really responded positively to our early performances on electric guitars. So, we have spent much the past year crafting the arrangements that make up I sing the body electric.
This project wouldn't be possible without the help of a few friends who have generously given, bartered, or sold at discount their considerable talents and time. We have to thank Peter Blanchette for lending his ears, judgement, and years of experience making guitar recordings to the production of I sing the body electric. Special thanks also go to Tristan Chambers for his fine portraiture work, and Tyran Grillo for his excellent album notes and photographs. Most art, somewhere along the path of its creation, owes a debt to the generosity of friends. We've put together a fine assortment of rewards for whatever level of contribution you're inclined to make. Every little amount helps, as does spreading the word to friends and fellow music-lovers!
Whether you are interested in supporting something truly new and different in classical music or you simply think that this collection of lovely, meditative music would enrich your life, we need your help to make it a reality.
Joe & Jamie
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