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Chinguetti Library Chaconne
for solo lute

Work no. 159


    I don't think I'd ever heard of Chinguetti until I came across a CD called "Guitare des sables" ("Guitar of the Sands") published by the French label Buda Musique. The principal performer was Moudou ould Mattalia, a fantastic guitarist whose music touched me deeply. He lived in Chinguetti, where the CD was recorded. While looking for more information on the region's music I came across Michal Huniewicz's photographs from his trip to Mauritania. Looking at those images must've been one of the greatest photographic experiences of my life. As well as many other places, he visited Chinguetti, and his galleries featured pictures of one of the town's many ancient libraries – the Al Ahmed Mahmoud Foundation Library – and its guardian. The mental image, the idea of an ancient library half-hidden far away in a vast desert made a lasting impression on me. That idea is what the title refers to.

    That said, the music of the chaconne has nothing to do with North African guitar traditions (even if it is playable on a guitar). Baroque counterpoint in general, and Nathaniel Giles in particular, were the chief influences here. Instead of the traditional varied theme, there are two simple melodic ideas, one ascending and another descending. They alternate throughout the piece. Being in a 2020 state of mind, for some time I wanted to end the chaconne after the eighth section, which is the slowest, a music which is barely alive. But in its completed form the piece ends with a repetition of the opening theme.

    The piece is difficult to perform, much as my pieces for guitar. It continues the series of geographically inspired chaconnes, such as the 2015 works Villa Mors Chaconne and Prince Street Chaconne.

    Chinguetti Library Chaconne &ndahs; PDF score

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