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Signifying

In African-American culture there's a practice and tradition called signifying. I think my compositions often come close to that tradition. What? Sounds a bit far-fetched? Maybe so, but hear me out.

Signifying is usually a kind of wordplay, but it can be music too. Like Gena Dagel Caponi writes:

"Signifyin(g) is also a way of demonstrating respect for, or poking fun at a musical style or practice through parody, pastische, humor, tone- or word-play... Signifyin(g) shows, among other things, either reverence or irreverence toward musical statements and values."

My guitar music is of course first and foremost pedagogical and educational, but its musical content is quite well described by the quote above. Some pieces show it more than others; River for example is clearly derivative of several musical tropes and recollections of past musical experiences, my way of showing respect for them. Homage to D. Scarlatti pokes a little fun at Scarlatti's characteristic sudden changes of affect, while A Pretty Good Morning in The Highlands takes a folksy, Mark Knopflerish  sound and gives it a classical spin as the composition closes.

Ever since romanticism in the 19th century, originality has been overrated in the art world. Trying to be different just to be different - that ain't where it's at. Take any old thing, tell it again, with honesty - and you've got something! That's the way I see it anyway 🙂

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