Vampyr!

Categories: Strumentale
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Published on: 21 May 2010

Tristan Murail – Vampyr! for electric guitar, from Random Access Memory (1984), Wiek Hijmans electric guitar.

To be honest, I know little about this piece. It’s the sixth track from Random Access Memory, a cycle that includes a set of solo pieces for various instruments and a gold dust in the contemporary academic music where the electric guitar is seldom used.

Vampyr! is one of several works in Murail’s catalogue that do not employ spectral techniques. Rather, in the performance notes, the composer asks the performer to play the piece in the manner of guitarists in the popular and rock traditions, with a heavy overdriven rock sound. In the preface to the work, Murail writes: “The desired sound is rather like that of the solo guitar as played by Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton etc.“. And then, in bold type and with an exclamation mark: “The player should put into Vampyr! all the energy of rock music and that includes the appropriate number of decibels!” Would like to see the whole score.

The rather striking title refers to horror movies and sci-fi B-films; other titles in the cycle do so as well. This subject matter is clearly recognizable in the saturated guitar sound and the frequent, hysterical use of the tremolo arm.

Here Wiek Hijmans effortlessly transforms his Gretsch 1967 model Chet Atkins Tennesean into a ruthless yawing, squealing and screaming board.

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