ouroboros miniatures

guitar duo

This piece consists of six miniatures that should be performed together, and can be presented in a variety of ways. Each miniature borrows elements from one or two others, producing moments that forecast or recollect other elements from the work. This piece may be performed on either 2 classical guitars or 2 steel-string guitars.

1. Chorale
2. Phase
3. Vals
4. Swell
5. Alloy
6. Mute

Performers may begin with any of the miniatures, and should perform all six of them in order or in reverse order. The first one performed may be repeated at the very end, at the performers’ discretion. The numbering is arbitrary, and just one suggestion for the order of execution. The piece is cyclical, such that 1. Chorale would follow 6. Mute if, for example, the performer chose to play them in order beginning in the middle of the series.

I make use of Messiaen’s third mode of limited transposition, often steeped in a more popular style that is idiomatic of the steel-string guitar. A wide range of performance techniques are employed: palm muting (pizzicato) borrowed from rock and metal guitar, rasgueado, golpe and arpeggio techniques from flamenco, and percussive sounds from electric bass. Compositionally, I attempt to focus on one particular problem or concept in each movement, combining a variety of different “styles” through the piece.

The Ouroboros represents self-reference and cyclicality. Each miniature foreshadowing or recalling another creates an overarching cyclical form between the miniatures. This cyclicality also plays into the idea of Hegelian (historical) dialecticism and the synthesis of seemingly opposing trends. In this case, I actively attempt to synthesize popular and Spanish guitar with contemporary concert music.

Nindirí, Nicaragua. June 2008.

Lenny Ranallo and Tim Beattie performed Ouroboros Miniatures at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2022: 

    ︎  ︎  ︎ oeiop!