Be-Bop Baghdad Paul Dolden

Many electric guitarists cut their musical teeth via jamming. With players taking turns soloing and sensitively backing up the other soloists, it remains the ideal forum to display your chops and pick up new tricks through careful listening. Bebop Baghdad is a fantasy based on the jam session. A live guitarist solos through most of the work, while a room full of musical playmates is simulated by a pre-recorded tape part.

Like in a live jam session, musical styles can quickly change on player’s whim, and the musicians must remain alert to follow the flow. In the first half of BeBop Baghdad, free jazz style reeds, winds and brass surround the soloist. In the second half the soloist is supported and challenged by a rhythm section that hops from a Latin music club to a Nashville Country music stage, and from a New York jazz club to a suburban basement seething with speed metal. Surprisingly, an ensemble of Arabian musicians, lending an exotic flavor and further testing the soloist’s abilities, visits every local. Fortunately, our guitar hero has just returned from a tour of Iraq, where he was swinging, rocking and trilling with the locals. The recurring themes based on Arabic scales lend continuity to BeBop Baghdad through the wildly shifting scenes.

On a personal note, I will add I still play electric guitar and made my living performing until I was about age 30 when this nasty habit of being a composer toke over my life. I have been fortunate to receive three commissions for electric guitar and tape. In these works I am attempting to bring the instrument into the world of music composition while maintaining the spontaneous quality of its roots.

I also believe that most electric guitarists are closest studio composers. Guitarists when they are 16 years old are exploring whether phasing before or after distortion sounds better, figuring out what Roy Buchannan’s amp settings were, and how high did Hendrix put the overdrive control on his Big Muff? For sure this “age of learning” is also accompanied by the feeling that if you can figure out those tone settings, some “nice girl” will help you loose your geeky personality and your virginity. And if that does not happen you end up becoming an electronic music composer.

Commissioned by Maurizio Grandinetti.

  • Year of composition: 2013
  • Format: Mixed work
  • Instrumentation: Electric Guitar and tape
  • Duration of the submitted work: 18:03


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