It is a truth universally acknowledged that a guitarist in possession of good basic technical and musical skills must be in want of a duo partner.
The life of a solo guitarist can be a lonely road and may become somewhat self-possessed and detached from the cosmic potential of the beautiful art and science of music. Just as sharing one's life with a loving partner adds a heightened emotional, mental and physical dimension to life, making music with someone else may enhance life with some of the most beautiful, exalting, soul-connecting experiences - a kind of musical enlightenment that allows us a glimpse into the perhaps farthest and deepest regions of our human experience. If music is indeed the window to our soul, then creating and experiencing music with another human soul - dancing the musical Pas de Deux - may help us connect not just with each other but ultimately with the soul of the universe, whatever we define this soul to be.
I love playing duets with my students - not just to help them develop their sightreading skills but also because I want them to experience this joy of creating and sharing beautiful music with someone else. While this book contains many contemporary compositions for guitar, the majority of pieces are transcriptions and arrangements, in a range of technical difficulty (easy - intermediate - advanced). There is much valuable new guitar solo and duo material available. However, in their eagerness to explore new avant-garde compositions and techniques, some students (and their teachers) at times overlook the importance of getting to know the continuum of classical music development that paved the way to the 21st century with its postmodernist diversity of styles. Many of the most beautiful pieces with the most intriguing melodies, harmonies and textures have been written in the past and must be known, listened to, and played, for the musician's own aesthetic sanity as much as for one's understanding and evaluation of present musical developments.
Much of this magnificent classical music repertoire, however, was written for instruments other than the classical guitar. To play these pieces on the guitar requires their transcription which may present both arranger and player with logistical and timbral limitations and challenges, especially in the case of large-scale works (the difference between "transcription" and "arrangement" being varying degrees of literal adherence to the original). In the continuum of music history, it is indeed very fortunate for us that one of Bach's favorite pastimes was transcribing much of his own music for a range of instruments, including the lute.
It is my quest for a beauty that may be found in simplicity as much as in complexity, that inspires me, time and again, to arrange classical pieces for guitar. It may originate in a student request, or may be motivated by the fact that many of the available easy arrangements are, in my view, musically somewhat soulless, and many very good ones tend to be too hard for the beginner or intermediate guitarist. To make some of the great works of the past accessible to all players, even the less advanced, in a way that is technically manageable yet musically intelligent and sensitive, heartwarming, fun, and a respectful tribute to the composer - that has been my challenge and delight with this book.
To see the look of blissful engagement on the faces of my students playing a guitar duet version of the famous "Air in D major" by Bach, a long-loved piece so far only admired from a distance, to see their joy and complete mental and emotional immersion when sharing and communicating their love of their instrument with each other - that makes my heart dance too.
May the "Pas de Deux of the Classical Guitar" enhance your love of music and the guitar, one of the most beautiful and exquisite instruments the human species was blessed with, and may it enrich your daily practice with the enjoyable exploration of musical friendship and love between two guitars.