On Sunday, February 9, 2014, I attended a concert by Daniel Lippel. Put on by Tangents Contemporary Guitar, the concert was at the Center for New Music in downtown San Francisco. Daniel Lippel is a world famous guitarist who currently plays with I.C.E. (International Contemporary Ensemble). He has played many concerts across the globe. Daniel Lippel’s repertoire includes a wide range of pieces from solo works for classical guitar, to pieces written for electric instruments and computers. He works with composers including Dai Fujikura, Nico Muhly, and Ken Ueno who have all written pieces for him.
The concert was set in a small space that seated only about 20-25 people and had relatively large walls that created nice echoes and reverb effects whenever a sound was made. This complemented Daniel Lippel’s pieces because he was already using an amplifier for his guitar.
The first piece on the program was Sparks by Dai Fujikura. This piece caught my attention immediately because of the unique technique that it required. Most of the piece was composed of harmonics but not just the common harmonics on the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets. Most of the harmonics in this piece were on frets where the harmonics do not ring as loudly such as on the 3rd, 4th, and 9th frets. These harmonics fused with dissonant chords created a very bizarre and ominous piece. The non-traditional harmonics created harsher and less distinct tones than the more commonly used harmonics. By getting all of these harmonics to ring out and overlap each other, Daniel Lippel was able to make his guitar sound like a totally new instrument.
Here is a video of the piece (Played by Gaku Yamada -thanks to Giacomo Fiore for the heads up)
My favorite piece of the concert was a piece that I had heard Daniel Lippel play before at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. The piece was called Sparking Orbit, composed by Dai Fujikura. The history of this piece was interesting to learn. It was originally written for an electric guitarist and live electronic musicians. This meant that the guitarist would play a written out piece and then his amplified music would be sent through computers, operated by the electronic musicians, who would then create an entirely new landscape of sound, amplified through the main speakers out to the audience. Unfortunately, Daniel Lippel was not able to arrange for the electronic musicians to come to San Francisco for this concert. So, instead he had a recording of the electronic music and played along with the recording on his guitar. This piece was truly unique and seemed to me like it could be revolutionary in the field of new and contemporary music. The electronic music gave the guitar an effect that made it seem three-dimensional. It was intense and strikingly beautiful.
Check out the piece here:
Going to this concert was a new experience for me. I had never attended a concert where music is performed in such unusual ways before. In the end I felt that I was really able to understand modern music more. It seems that Daniel Lippel is trying not only to come up with new and interesting pieces that evoke emotions and thoughts, but he is also trying to find new ways to play and listen to music. I thought this concert was a huge success and I would definitely attend another Daniel Lippel concert in the future.
Harry Trump is a guitar major at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College Division. He currently studies guitar with Scott Cmiel and Ross Thompson and has been accepted for collegiate studies beginning in the fall at the University of British Columbia, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.