New Jersey–based guitarist Kevin Lutke tells us a little about himself and this issue’s piece:
I come from a musical family and started playing guitar at age 12. However, I didn’t get serious about it until I was introduced to jazz guitar in my late teens. I went to William Paterson University in New Jersey and earned a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Guitar, and that’s also where I was first exposed to classical music. Later, after a period of playing, teaching, and recording (electric guitar), I went back to school to get my master’s in composition from NYU.
At that point, my love for 20th century classical music (especially French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Satie, and Milhaud) became an important influence on my composition style—I tried to incorporate 20th century techniques into my jazz writing. I’d always had a fondness for the music of Bach, too, mostly from sight-reading material in school. Finally, I started listening to some classical-guitar music, and to my surprise also started composing for solo guitar. I had always loved Ralph Towner’s music and sound, so that’s probably why I chose the nylon-string rather than steel-string. I have always approached learning a new style of music by trying my hand at composition. So, after grasping the basics of fingerstyle guitar, I got as many books of classical guitar music as I could find. Of course, some Bach was always included, and I was especially drawn to his two-part counterpoint, even though it was difficult to play at first.
I recorded my first set of solo classical-guitar works—Seven Pieces in the Ancient Modes—on my 2014 CD, Where Are You Now. The Two-Part Etudes were the next pieces I wrote. I had written a simple melody as reading material for my students, covering all the natural notes in the first position. The main melody is the top part of the “Prelude” and bottom line of the “Bourrée.” I did a counterpoint to that, and the other pieces are all variations of that melody. Slight octave adjustments have been made. One of the keys to these pieces is to play in a legato style using open strings whenever possible. Tempos can vary according to your level and preference. I performed the pieces for Paul Galbraith last year and he said they were neo-classic in design.
This ‘Music to Play’ originally appeared in Classical Guitar’s Summer 2018 issue. For the full music notation and tab, purchase a copy here.