I grew up
listening to Tomita's record. It's how I first heard Debussy. Later I
would discover my favorite piano interpreters of Debussy; Arturo
Michelangeli, Walter Geiseking, Phillipe Entremont and Werner Haas.
I decided to start recording guitar versions of Debussy pieces I wanted
to create note-for-note renditions, not traditional transcriptions.
Even though I'd been playing guitar for forty years I knew that there
was no way I could accomplish this with a transcription. Guitar
transcriptions must necessarily pare down Romantic era piano music to
accommodate the limitations of a six-string guitar and the limitations
imposed by the layout of the fretboard -- for instance, its inability
to accommodate more than three closely clustered tones simultaneously
without impossible constant retuning of the instrument. To remedy this
I recorded almost all of Bells Through the Leaves
one note at a time on to separate tracks. This gave me both the ability
to duplicate each note of the original music and to control the
position of each note in the final stereo image, the string each note
is played on, pickup position of each note, where on the string the
note is struck (by the bridge or by the neck, etc.), whether it is
struck by pick or finger, whether the left hand is fingered or a slide
is used, whether the string is muted or sustained and so on. My main
commitment was to resist the urge to copy/paste arpeggiated or
repeating passages. Every note you hear is uniquely recorded and shaped
for its context.
result you hear is not a guitar performance in any traditional sense of
the word. Or, more accurately, it's thousands of "performances" of
single notes stacked, nudged and mixed to sound something like a
performance. As one can imagine, this took a long time to do. Most of
these tracks took over eighty hours each to record and to mix. Unlike
Tomita (or even Glenn Gould) I didn't have to use razor blades to line
up the performance. I just needed command-arrow. And lots and lots of
time to work.
Listen and download here.