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Essence of the East - Juan Luis Madrigal

Musical work for classical guitar in three movements composed by Juan Luis Madrigal.

Composition - Juan Luis Madrigal

Essence of the East - Juan Luis Madrigal


Essence of the East is a suite for classical guitar that evokes aromas from different regions of Asia, from the Far East going through those originating from the central areas of the continent to ending with those that come from the Middle East, which is structured in three short movements:

I. Cherry, hydrangea and Japanese incense                                      00:12

II. Bergamot, Himalayan cedar and lotus flower                              02:52

III. Orange and lemon blossoms, Damascus rose and jasmine       05:38


    José Antonio García Fuertes, guitar


    Juan Luis Madrigal

Audiovisual production:

    Juan Luis Madrigal

Recording made on December 1, 2022. Work premiered in concert by the same performer on November 10, 2022, as part of the COMA'22 festival organized by the Madrid Association of Composers (AMCC).

The first movement, Cherry, hydrangea, and Japanese incense employs a scordatura (change in tuning) of the second guitar string (B flat instead of B). This facilitates the use of the E–G–A–B flat-[C]-D scale on the guitar (natural scale of E minor without second degree, that is, without F sharp note, and with the dominant lowered, B flat instead of B, which considerably obscures its sonority), as well as the chords and arpeggios derived from that scale, which pose a certain dissonant tension (such as that between the lowered dominant, B flat, and any of the other two sounds fundamentals of this scale, either the tonic, E, or the subdominant, A), musically evoking the refinement, elegance and sobriety of a Japanese environment.


The second movement, Bergamot, Himalayan cedar and lotus flower, has a much slower tempo and a certain minimalist character (repeating a very brief pattern of just two consecutive chords that are subtly modified) and circular (because the same melody appears in the initial section and in the final), evokes the serene joy, elegance and sweetness of these aromas originating from the central regions of Asia. Initially, the movement is very mellow in character, using chords with only (unaltered) diatonic sounds, usually from the major scale and sometimes from its five-sound subset, the major pentaphonic scale, from China and other Asian countries. Next, it highlights some of the sounds, generating melodies that appear on the background of chords. Then, in addition, it incorporates some alterations, mainly ascending, with moderation, which together with the slight variations of dynamic nuance (intensity), among other aspects, add variety and musical interest to the movement.

The third movement, Orange and lemon blossoms, Damascus rose and jasmine evokes the soft, delicate, delicious and refreshing nuances of the essences of these floral varieties that, although they originate from Asia, are not at all strange in Europe due to the proliferation of various of these species in the Mediterranean regions, as is the case of the orange and lemon blossoms, that is, the flower of the orange and lemon trees, citrus fruits introduced to the West by the Arabs. This movement alternates guitar passages in which vertical (chords and arpeggios) and horizontal elements (melodies and brief contrapuntal fragments) stand out, with those in which both coexist with similar relevance. Stylistically, it is closer than the previous movements to the repertoire of Spanish music for guitar, echoing the existing cultural influence in the Iberian Peninsula of the different peoples that have inhabited it and, in particular, since the Muslim occupation.

The composer expresses his sincere gratitude to the guitarist José Antonio García Fuertes, to whom this work is dedicated, for his interpretation of it.

Hopefully works like this help to seek and inspire peace and harmony among all the peoples of the world, so that it be possible to successfully face the important problems and challenges that currently exist for humanity.

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