Harpists! Do you want to play Baroque Flamenco on lever or pedal harp, at YOUR level? Join my 5-Week online Course “Baroque Flamenco – Beyond the Page” – Spring 2016 session starts on May 2nd.
Baroque Flamenco is one of my most famous and fiery pieces. But it wasn’t always.
The first time I heard the melody, it was in a Minuet by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (pictured below – quite fetchingly, I think).
I found it in one of my first harp books (“Medieval to Modern, Vol. 1″ by Samuel Milligan) under the title “Minuet in A Minor.”
I fell in love with the melody and started improvising on it, first in a Baroque style, and then over time, I started adding rhythm to the variations.
Little by little the piece became a conversation of styles: the melody was Baroque, but the variations took on a Latin rhythmic character (a lot like the rhythm of Bernstein’s “America.”)
Then, one day, packing up my gear in a rock club in Berlin, and hearing Ottmar Liebert’s “Nuevo Flamenco” on the house sound system, I had a revelation: “Wait a minute!” I yelled at myself over the music, “The harp … the HARP … is just a big GUITAR!”
By which I meant: there’s a whole other instrument here, not just the strings, but the sound box as well.
I started experimenting, and created a cadenza for the piece that included my best imitation of a flamenco troupe, from strums and slaps to foot stomps – all created on the strings and soundboard of the harp.Wait a minute! I yelled at myself over the music, The harp ... the HARP ... is just a big GUITAR! Click To Tweet There's a whole other instrument here, not just the strings, but the sound box as well! Click To Tweet
Thus was born, “Baroque Flamenco,” which morphed from a sweet, haunting minuet into a fiery tour-de-force that was the dramatic finale of my PBS music special “Invention and Alchemy”, and later became the 3rd movement of my concerto “Soñando en Español.” You can see a video of the performance of “Baroque Flamenco” from the DVD (and GRAMMY-Nominated CD) “Invention & Alchemy” here: