Bau Solo no. 4

  • Gregory Beyer (b.1973)
  • Solo
  • 2019

Berimbau Solo no. 4, “Sakura Park” has a more extended form than other solos in this series, due to its presentation of two very different ideas for a musical bow tuned to a perfect fourth. Indeed, this piece is really two works in one, presented one after the other.

In the first half of the work, from letter A to letter G, a rhythmic “accordion” underlies the unfolding of the music. This idea is directly attributed to David Lang’s wonderful miniature for piccolo and percussion duo, lend/lease. At the same time, the increased density in every eight bar iteration of the harmonic progression pays homage to the “a” movement of Iannis Xenakis’s Rebonds. At the time of its composition, Arcomusical member Kyle Flens was learning Rebonds for his graduate recital at NIU, and this composition is dedicated to Kyle, an absolutely wonderful musician and equally delightful human being.

From H to the end of the work, I present an ABA form that explores the melodic potential of the perfect fourth tuning on both sides of the wire. The A section focuses on the long wire segment and the B section (letters J and K) offer melodies on the short side of the wire. The overall mood of this second tune is soulful, bluesy, with copious coin slides meant to imitate a blues guitar. Sakura Park is the name of a public space in New York City directly west of the Manhattan School of Music where I earned both of my advanced degrees in music. I spent a lot of time in that park, sometimes practicing berimbau in the years when I first discovered the instrument. The park was particularly lovely in the spring, with the remarkable blossoming of its cherry trees after which the park was named. Standing between the International House, where I lived for a few years, Riverside Cathedral, and Grant’s Tomb, the place was quiet, serene, and peaceful. The second half of this piece tries to capture that atmosphere.

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