Guria – გურია

for ensemble

premiered 14.07.19

Divertimento Ensemble, cond. Sandro Gorli

in Bobbio, Italy

The main inspiration for Guria was the composer’s interest in traditional Georgian music, especially that of the homonym region. Passed down in oral transmission through uncountable generations, Georgian music is characterized for being one of the few polyphonic vocal traditions in the world. Most notable are its ties with European Medieval polyphony, with which it shares many musical similarities, such as the construction of phrases and melodies, the approach to linearity/verticality, and the understanding of the concepts of consonance and dissonance. The music from the region of Guria excels for its notable use of dissonance (by traditional European standards), the melodic richness of its ornamented style, and the complexity of its polyphony. Similarities can also be found with traditional Corsican singing, specially through the occasional use of pedal notes, and the special mode of emission, which enhances the upper partials naturally produced by the voice.

Special thanks are owed to ethnomusicologists Simha Arom and Polo Vallejo, without whose research and diffusion of Georgian music, it would be much more difficult to get to know and appreciate this repertoire.

This piece, in turn, reflects on the most characteristic aspects of Georgian music, tracing a path from formal monophony to polyphony, and paying special attention to instrumental modes of emission, which try to recreate those found in Georgian and Corsican music. This is specially evident near the end of the piece, when the oboist and clarinetist are called to play placing the bells of their instruments on the skin of the bass drum, creating a modulation in pitch and timbre, and producing unexpected resonances.