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Slave Story

Slave Story (1992) is one of the first pieces where the composers experimentation with novel guitar sounds becomes evident. In the words of Mr. Paraskevas, with this piece I wished to give the listener as many unconventional and new sounds on the guitar as possible. In order to understand the function of the sounds used one has to be aware of the programmatic elements hidden behind the music.

The story is that of a slave; first we hear the chains, represented by scratching of the nails on the strings, while immediately afterwards the leitmotif of the slave is introduced. As the music grows faster, the slave is caught in a dream, where he is being pursued (musically illustrated by the strikes on the wood and other techniques that produce percussive sounds). This hectic effect culminates in the emancipation of the slaves mind, whereby he recalls sounds of the timpani that he used to hear when once free in his homeland. In order to achieve these different timpani-like sounds, the player has to cross the strings of the guitar in pairs, thus forming six different sounds of timpani, and improvise rhythmically on them.

As the sound gradually fades out, the opening scratching of the string returns, bringing the slave out of his illusions and back to reality. The sound of the lowest note is not enough to lament on the slaves fate, so the performer has to start untuning the lowest string, until a very low and uncertain pitch is heard. At this point he lays the guitar flat, and, with the use of a Ping-Pong ball that he slides between the fourth and the fifth strings of the guitar he creates a sound that represents a dream, an escape from the reality. At the same time, however, the lamenting bass persists - that proves to be the only reality.


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