On Desert Rose, for guitar quartet
Date of composing June 2017
Genre program Romantic piece, fantasy, musical poem
Style Neo-Romantic, Romantic, Arabic ethnic
Level of difficulty intermediate
Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini all rights reserved
In D, Lontano. Lento sostenuto. A program composition inspired by Arabian desert, its nature and culture, and based on the poem composed specifically for this music by Natalia Pispini.
In spring 2017, I received the suggestion from classical guitarist César Mora to compose a piece for his ensemble Cairo Guitar Collective based in Cairo, Egypt. The proposition was to compose music which would reflect Arabic elements. I liked the idea and the new challenge of composing for the guitar. Some years ago I have visited the National Museum in Riyadh where I was impressed by the desert rose, the rock formation with amazing scheme of rose petals (the photo of this rock is used in the image above). So, I thought of the desert like metaphor of death, loneliness, indifference, while the rose could symbolize life, love, expectations… Thus, the fabula, then the poem and the music were created.
ON DESERT ROSE
… no one can see her beauty
after the wind ’s soft blowing
the desert rose’s come to life at night
her unexpected beauty
and in the morning – a breathless rock again
one has to guard another spring
as month shaban ’ll be coming
in hazy gleams of sickle moon hilal
guard as it ‘ll breeze from south …
Program plot can be described as following:
It had happened in a lonely desert. There was a stone desert rose. Once by night, in spring, in month shaban, under the crescent moon hilal, after the south wind the stone desert rose had become an alive flower. It revealed its shining beauty but nobody could see it in the desert at night. The morning and the sunrise came, and the rose became a stone again.
The main musical themes are those of
night and loneliness (mm. 16-19, 28-39),
crescent moon (mm. 50-53),
south wind (mm. 63-66),
desert rose crystal stone (mm. 20-26),
desert rose as a beautiful flower (mm. 112-127),
morning light of the sunrise (mm. 156-169).
The musical structure is a long Romantic program piece with 4 major sections:
Introduction (Lontano) It’s like the beginning of a fairy-tale. Refers to the place of the story, the Arabian desert.
Exposition (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso. Con moto etc., letters A-B) shows the initial situation (it is night in the desert, there is a stone rose, and the crescent moon is on the sky, and the south wind is blowing).
Middle Section (Meno mosso. Più mosso etc., letters C-D) describes how the stone rose became an alive flower, and show its beauty.
Final Section (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso, letters E-F-G) reminds about the desert, night and loneliness, and leads to the end of the story (the morning is coming with the sunrise, and the rose becomes a stone again).
When composing this music, the particular elements of Arabic music were used.
Sometimes the texture is affected by the Arabic oud playing manners.
There are so called ‘arabesques’ ornamenting the melody.
Finally, the Arabic maqams are represented:
Hijaz (themes of desert, night and loneliness),
Saba (theme of the stone desert rose),
Bayati (theme of moon),
Huzam (themes of the wind and the rose flower).
These maqams are interpreted as elements of Romantic / Neo-Romantic music style.
All the tempo changes are suggested by the composer and can be revised or omitted by the musicians according to their taste and professional level. Since the music has a character of a fantasy / fairy story, it’s tempo rubato can be played in various ways.