AGAVE – Guitar and Keyboard Improvisation | AsteriskedMusic.Com


"Agave Background," by Linnaea Mallette, taken from [PublicDomainPuictures.Net]; this image is in the public domain. An agave is a cactus.
“Agave Background,” by Linnaea Mallette, taken from [PublicDomainPuictures.Net]; this image is in the public domain.
The agave is a desert cactus. It spreads out almost like a flower; but unlike a flower, it survives year in and year out in the inhospitable desert. It is so sweet that its flesh is processed and used as an alternative to sugar. Its glory is its steadfastness, longevity, and sweetness. Prickly and yet beautiful on the outside. Alive and sustaining of life on the inside. It is patient.


Some Notes on Agave

This piece is largely tonal. It is in F Sharp Major.  It is for keyboard and guitar. Although it is tonal, it uses a lot of quartal harmonies, polytonality, and some dissonance. The piece is a narrative in terms of formal structure; it expresses a motif, and then the rest of the piece is one long development section.

The piece starts with a solo piano. It begins with an unassuming moderato. The motif is almost an ostinato, but it moves just enough to suggest a simple melody. The guitar enters intermittently with a more melodic countermelody, lending it a simple polyphonic texture.

After this brief interplay, the piece slowly begins to unfold and build. The piano begins to play fast chords while the guitar sings over it. Then it takes a step back. The piano returns to the ostinato melody; however, now in a variation. The guitar continues to play a melody consisting of long, patient notes as a slow, concurrent melodic line over the frenetic keyboard activity.

The piece reaches a climax with a third piano variation over the guitar’s agave theme, like an agave plant riding a desert storm. The piece ends with a quiet inversion (also a variation) of the theme in the piano, with a slow scaling motion in the guitar. Finally, the guitar ends on the fourth scale degree, suggesting the sacredness of a liturgic resolution.

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