The Master / Il Maestro.
ROLAND DYENS fut l’un des guitaristes, interprète et compositeur les plus célèbres de la Planète qu’il parcourait inlassablement pour jouer devant des publics toujours plus nombreux et pour enseigner notamment dans le cadre de master class.
Il nous laisse une oeuvre musicale considérable et éclectique à son image de musicien sans ornières ni frontières: Compositions et arrangements pour guitare solo, duo, trio, quatuor, octuor ou ensemble de guitares comme son Concerto en Si pour 21 guitares, mais aussi des concertos pour guitare(s) et orchestre à cordes, ou encore des compositions pour quatuor à cordes, guitare, flûte et percussions comme Tambourou.
Ses derniers arrangements de 10 musiques d’Astor Piazzolla dont il posa la dernière note fin septembre 2016 après 3 années de travail passionné sont édités chez d’Oz productions en 2017-1018.
ROLAND DYENS left this world on October 29, 2016. He was one of the most famous guitarists, performers and composers of the planet, who traveled relentlessly to play in front of an increasing number of audiences and to teach in the the master classes.
He leaves us a considerable and eclectic musical work, in his image of musician without ruts or borders: compositions and arrangements for solo guitar, duo, trio, quartet, octuor or set of guitars like his Concerto in Si for 21 guitars, but also concertos for guitar(s) and string orchestra, or compositions for string quartet, guitar, flute and percussion such as Tambourou.
His last arrangements of 10 musics of Astor Piazzolla of which he placed the last note at the end of September 2016 after 3 years of passionate work will be published at d'Oz productions in 2017-1018.
Actualité / Aggiornamenti
JEUDI 19 OCTOBRE 2017 - Au Conservatoire National superieur de musique et de danse de Paris
Hommage a Roland Dyens
" La disparition brutale de Roland Dyens a bouleversé le monde de la guitare. Ce musicien polyvalent qui jonglait avec les répertoires les plus divers était une véritable icône de son instrument. Admiré dans le monde entier, Roland Dyens défendait aussi bien la musique ancienne que la bossa nova, la création que le jazz. Ses élèves du CNSMDP, ses collègues, ses amis ont tenu à lui rendre hommage en ce jour où il aurait célébré son 62e anniversaire " Le CNSMDP
A partir de 11h: Photos, partitions, presse, vidéo Entrée libre. Espace d'exposition près de la salle d'Art Lyrique. Fin de l'exposition après le concert
CONCERT A 19h
Avec les professeurs et élèves des classes de guitare et de percussions Département des disciplines instrumentales classiques et contemporaines. Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris
La biographie / La biografia.
Né le 19 octobre 1955, l’interprète, compositeur, arrangeur et improvisateur français Roland Dyens commence l’étude de la guitare à l’âge de neuf ans. Quatre ans plus tard, il devient l’élève du Maître espagnol Alberto Ponce dans la classe duquel il obtient, en 1976, la Licence de Concert de l’École Normale de Musique de Paris.
Parallèlement à ses études instrumentales, Roland Dyens suit également le précieux enseignement du compositeur et chef d’orchestre Désiré Dondeyne (classe d’écriture) auprès duquel il lui sera décerné un 1er Prix d’Harmonie, de Contrepoint et d’Analyse.
Parmi les distinctions majeures qu’il obtiendra dès le début de sa jeune carrière, notons le Prix Spécial du Concours International Città di Alessandria (Italie) ainsi que le prestigieux Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles-Cros, tous deux obtenus lors d’hommages rendus à Villa-Lobos. Également lauréat de la Fondation Menuhin, Roland Dyens fut classé à 33 ans par le magazine Guitarist parmi les meilleurs guitaristes mondiaux, tous styles confondus.
Born on October 19, 1955, French interpreter, composer, arranger and improviser Roland Dyens began guitar studies at the age of nine. Four years later he became a student of Spanish Master guitarist Alberto Ponce and, in 1976, was awarded the Licence de Concert de l’École Normale de Musique de Paris.
While learning his instrument, Roland Dyens also studied compo- sition with the renowned teacher, composer and conductor Désiré Dondeyne under whose guidance he was awarded the First Prize in Harmony, Counterpoint and Analysis.
Among the most distinguished awards obtained during the early years of his career, Roland Dyens received the Special Prize at the International Competition Città di Alessandria (Italy) and the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles-Cros, both in honor of the major Brasilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Editions Henry Lemoine
- Aria (guitar quintet)
- Brésils(4 guitars or ensemble)
- Chansons françaises Vol.1 (solo guitar )
- Chansons françaises Vol.1 (solo guitar - tablatures)
- Chansons françaises Vol.2 (solo guitar)
- Citrons doux et le Quatuor Accorde (solo guitar)
- Concertino de Nürtingen (solo guitar & guitar ensemble)
- Concerto en si (solo guitar & guitar ensemble)
- Concerto métis (guitar & piano)
- Concerto métis (solo guitar & string orchestra)
- Concertomaggio (2 guitars and string orchestra)
- Côté Nord (2 guitars)
- Côté Sud (guitar octet - quartet possible)
- Eloge de Léo Brouwer (solo guitar)
- French Pot-Pourri (for guitar quartet or ensemble)
- Hamsa (4 guitars or guitar ensemble)
- Hommage à Franck Zappa (solo guitar)
- Hommage à Villa-Lobos (solo guitar)
- L.B. Story (solo guitar)
- Lettres - 20 (solo guitar)
- Libra Sonatine (solo guitar)
- Lulla by Melissa (solo guitar)
- Mambo des Nuances et Lille Song (solo guitar)
- Mes arrangements à l’amiable (solo guitar)
- Muguet et L’Allusive (solo guitar)
- Rossiniana n°1 d’après Mauro Giuliani (solo guitar & string quartet)
- Rythmaginaires (guitar octet)
- Santo Tirso (solo guitar)
- Songe Capricorne (solo guitar)
- Suite Polymorphe (4 guitars or guitar ensemble)
- Tango en Skaï (solo guitar & string quartet)
- Tango en Skaï (solo guitar)
- Traveling Sonata (Sonata for flute and guitar - ca 17mn)
- Triaela (solo guitar)
- Trois (3) pièces polyglottes - Valse des loges, Flying Wigs & Sols d’Ièze (solo guitar)
- Valse des anges - Angel’s waltz (solo guitar)
- Valse en skaï (solo guitar)
- Variations sur un thème de la "Flûte Enchantée" Mozart/ Sor (4 guitars or guitar ensemble)
- Ville d'Avril (4 guitars or guitar ensemble)
- Ville d'Avril (solo guitar)
Les Productions d'OZ
- "7 Études de Sor" (arrangements pour guitare et quatuor à cordes/ arranged for Guitar and String Quartet)
- 2 famous popular melodies for mandoline and guitar (Alfonsina y el mar & O sole mio)
- Alfonsina y el mar (arrangement for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble)
- Alfonsina y el mar (arrangement for mandoline & guitar)
- April Song (for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble - 5mn30 - level 3 to 4)
- Austin Tango (for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble - ca 3mn45 - level 2 to 3)
- Barcarolle by Tchaikovsky arranged for solo guitar (ca 8mn - level 5)
- Carillons (for guitar quartet or ensemble + optionnal bass - 5.30 to 6mn - level 3 to 4)
- Comme des grands (3 duos - ca 10mn - level 2 to 3)
- Comme le jour...(solo guitar - 4 to 5mn - level 3 to 4)
- Comme un rond d'eau (guitar quartet - ca 7.30 mn - level 5)
- Dansk Pot Pourri (6 or 7 arrangements on old Danish songs arranged for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble)
- Djembe (for solo guitar)
- Djembe (version for guitar, flute and string quartet)
- Festival de Paris (for guitar orchestra or guitar quintet with bass - ca 5.30mn - level 5)
- La Valse à mi-temps - Half-time Waltz - also known as La Colmarienne (for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble - ca 6mn - level 3 to 4)
- Niteroi (guitar duet) - ca 6.30mn
- Seul à seuls - short comédie musicale for quartet or ensemble
- Soleils levants (pour quatuor ou ensemble de guitares / for quartet or guitar ensemble).
- Tango by Albéniz arranged for solo guitar (ca 3mn - level 4 to 5)
- Varna-Future Memories (guitar trio) - ca 6.30mn
- The Delights of Jetlag (solo guitar - set piece at 2012 Antony Intl Competition).
- Les 100 de Roland Dyens (100 pieces including 2 duets, 2 quartets & 1 trio) for beginners and medium to advanced level. To be published by 2013 & 2014
- The Bolero of Ravel - Arranged for guitar ensemble - (composé en 1992, édité en 2017)
- The Last Tango, music for Astor Piazzolla arranged for guitar solo (2016)
- "3 Saudades"
Paris - France
- "Anyway" - 2007 GFA set piece
Les Editions Doberman-Yppan
- Night and Day - Jazz Arrangements
Guitar Solo Publications
San Francisco - USA
- Hommages à Marcel Dadi / Pavane de Ravel/ arrgt Dyens
Colombus - USA
- Naquele Tempo
10 arrangements on Brazilian genius Pixinguinha's music
including Carinhoso, Lamentos, Rosa etc..
Guitar Solo Publications
(San Francisco - USA)
Ce disque inclut une série de 26 chansons françaises de notre répertoire national.
Music of the Brazilian Master Pixinguinha
11 arrangements by Roland Dyens
Anyway - DVD
Compositions and arrangements. Interview, photo gallery, studio recordings and live concerts
Sor & Giuliani
Night and Day
10 Jazz Standards
Compositions & arrangements by Roland Dyens
Compositons & arrangements by Roland Dyens + other pieces
Chansons françaises vol. 1
13 French songs arranged for solo guitar
Chansons françaises vol. 2
13 French songs arranged for solo guitar
Paris Guitare/Chansons françaises volume 1 & 2
13 French songs arranged for solo guitar
Concerto en Si for guitar and ensemble of 21 guitars
Rythmaginaires & Côté Sud (8 guitars)
Live recording in Paris, 1989. Solo guitar & trio (guitar, percussions and vibes)
Hommage à Georges Brassens
5 arrangements on Georges Brassens songs Libra Sonatine, Tango en Skaï and Version Latine
Heitor Villa-Lobos/Concerto pour guitare et petit orchestre
Suite Populaire Brésilienne and Chôros n°1. Hommage à Villa-Lobos by Roland Dyens
Heitor Villa-Lobos/Les Préludes
Trois Saudades & Capricornes by Roland Dyens
The reviewsView / Voir / Vedi
"Ton jeu est fruit d'une curiosité sans fin et d'un courage infini qui te permettent de réaliser les rêves existants en ton esprit sans âge et qui sont aussi nombreux que les pas sur ton énorme territoire artistique"
Un homme seul de qui jaillissent tant de choses.
"Mr. Dyens is one of the finest guitarists active in any field of music, but beyond that he is one of the finest musicians we have today. There is no doubt that he is one of the most expressive classical guitarists of the modern era".
"Roland Dyens is unique in the enormous contribution he has made to the contemporary guitar".
"Dyens is much more than a "classical guitarist". He is a great musician"
"A performance by Dyens is one like no other. There have been many great composers for the guitar in recent memory and many great performers as well but none have been able to master both worlds quite like Maestro Dyens has" (from an Interview of guitarist Stephen Brew, Jim Piorkowski's student at Fredonia School of Music - NY).
"Un grand guitariste français. Le plus grand peut-être"
"L'un des plus grands guitaristes vivants".
"Dyens è uno dei massimi concertisti e compositori viventi per chitarra, ed emblema senza confini per lo strumento".
"...there is no one out there to equal his delicacy and sensitive range of control and expression."
"...Dyens’s magical sense of colouration."
"...Roland Dyens, one of the few individuals worthy of the mantle of master."
"...an artist of the highest calibre for his instrument. One of the guitar-world’s guiding lights"
J’écoute Williams : je me dis qu'il joue bien, quelle maîtrise ! Il domine son instrument.
J'écoute Bream : je me dis quelle technique limpide, quelle classe musicale, quelle noblesse !
J'écoute Dyens : je pleure" - Cyrloud (février 2010)
"Roland Dyens, l'homme qui a plus de six cordes à sa guitare"
Selten ist solch ein blumig filigraner, dabei sehr intim wirkender Stil zu erleben, wie Dyens ihn für sich entwickelt hat. Schmetterlingen gleich schweben die Melodien nahezu schwerelos durch den Raum.
...klanglich beeindruckend schön, technisch beeindruckend schwer.
"Roland Dyens est un musicien, un vrai musicien, un musicien comme je les aime. . . Aussi follement doué qu’enthousiaste."
"No fluff, no guff - just pure artistry at his best. The guitar standard took on new life in the hands of a Master".
"Roland Dyens è uno straordinario musicista francese che ha saputo offrirci una visione ed un rapporto del tutto particolare con la chitarra."
"Roland Dyens émeut, fait vibrer toutes les cordes et touche le spectateur au plus profond de lui-même. Un recital-joyau qui nous a laissés bouleversés."
"Not since Julian Bream visited Rubkobing Church, have I heard such guitar playing."
"L'un des plus grands guitaristes contemporains."
"He is an exceptionnal guitarist... A member of the very small club of those who are outstanding in all three areas - improvising, interpreting and composing - as Leo Brouwer was."
"... ein exzellenter Musiker... Dieses Konzert hat mich sehr beeindruckt!"
"Un musicien réellement inspiré, un interprète surdoué." "Roland Dyens est un maître de la guitare et de la musique contemporaine."
"Il est sans nul doute l’un des plus grands guitaristes contemporains".
"... and then came the great Roland Dyens warm and improvising completely enchanting the audience... France has found itself a great ambassador in him."
"... lmagine Keith Jarrett playing the guitar ..."
"Roland Dyens fait entrer le feeling dans les moeurs de la guitare classique."
"... Aber genau hier liegt die Faszination, die von diesem Künstler ausgeht: ein unakademisches, unprätentiöses Auftreten, gepaart mit einer spektakulären Art, Gitarre zu spielen."
"Un grand interprète de notre Villa-Lobos."
"Roland DYENS est indiscutablement le plus grand talent que la France ait connu depuis Ida Presti"
“Dyens is a treasure.”
It’s not a shift, but a paradigm chasm from classical to jazz guitar playing. Although all music shares a common vocabulary, the vernacular of jazz with its odd idioms of syncopation and blue notes might seem like an exotic dialect to a classical player, a southern drawl to one raised speaking an Irish brogue.
Truly authentic communication with an instrument via classical or jazz, as with a brogue or drawl, demands there be no mimicry... the dialect must be a native tongue. Roland Dyens proves on "Night and Day" that he is fabulously bilingual. Although having firmly established his preeminence as a classical guitar player with prior recordings of Villa-Lobos, Satie, Sor and Weiss, Dyens has shown perhaps more fluency with modern genres, including arrangements of Georges Brassens songs, Thelonius Monk and Django Reinhardt standards, even a tribute to the music of Frank Zappa. "Night and Day" likewise showcases Dyens’ facility with novel and virtuosic renderings of classic American jazz standards on solo nylon-string guitar. Like Martin Taylor, Dyens plays on one guitar that which sounds to be impossible, both in speed and articulation of diverging counterpoints. Particularly on "Bluesette", "All the Things You Are" and "Take the A Train", one must pause to verify that these are not duos. And as any serious musician strives to do, the technical difficulty of these arrangements is camouflaged, made subliminal by the carefree and contagious exuberance Dyens infuses into these tunes.
Even the simpler, slower melodies "I Love Paris", "Misty", and "Over the Rainbow" find a very complex expression with Dyens’ genius for arranging... but in the process of finding their way to your ear become simple again, natural, a native tongue that speaks to you sincerely in a dialect you’ve always heard.
© Alan Fark
Roland Dyens/ John Williams
The Two Ends of the Spectrum
by Mark Greenberg
Solo Guitar Recitals by
American Youth Hostel- April 3, 2005
Long Island Guitar Festival- April 9, 2005
Zankel Hall- April 11, 2005
An earlier article discussed ‘introspective’ more ‘extroverted’ type of classical guitar style. Two rarely-seen soloists in NY--the divine R. Dyens, and wonderful (and legendary) J. Williams provide examples of supremely accomplished approaches that could scarcely be more different.
Roland Dyens is perhaps better known as a composer. As a player, if Verdery represents the Tibetan Buddist school of guitar, Dyens hails from the Zen campus. Less is more. Or, to paraphrase a Dyens-ism—to play loud, you have to play soft. Slow demands fast. And, ultimately, to be heard, one has to be not heard. At least, one has to be very, very, very, very quiet.
And surely he is. Oddly, though, no matter how quietly he plays, he somehow remains audible. It is one of the anomalies of time and space that the guitar, though seemingly a very reserved instrument, carries long and far into the night. (Watch out for neighbors!) In addition, there is something calculated about Dyens’ approach and the ear of the mind may anticipate what Dyens is getting at, and fill in the occasional aural gap.
All this is, of course, eccentric. In fact, Roland Dyens is another example of an artist about whom specifics—how he played this piece, how he played that piece—are pretty much irrelevant. One does not so much watch him perform as watch him exist. One gets the feeling that he is simply a genius of a human being with strong opinions about pretty nearly everything, and he would do equally well on another guitar, another instrument, or even another medium. I would be willing to eat a Darryl Perry guitar if this guy doesn’t occasionally paint or draw; his books and conversation clearly show talent with language.
A few words now have to be said to give a better sense of Dyens’ sound. First, compared to other guitarists, he has a far greater range of dynamics and tone-color. Dyens never gets very loud--I imagine harsh sounds make him wince--but when he plays softly, he gets to the threshold of audibility, and then some. There are times when he may or may not be producing sound. Only he knows, and it is very much part of his sense of humor not to let you in on the secret. He impels (rather than compels) you to listen.
As far as tone-color, Dyens uses far more flesh than the average classical guitarist. On the other hand, he often plays even inner strings, even the 2nd string, with his thumb. In fact, Dyens can beautifully mimic the sound of either an electric or steel-string guitar. He can also provide a wide spectrum of special effects. I guess we’ve all fooled around with the tight stretch of strings above the nut. The difference is that for Dyens, they are a regular stop. Presumably he can tell you their pitch.
On this subject of pitch, Dyens is (I hope he will forgive me for saying so) a bit of a crank. If your concentration is not good, you do not want to play for him in a master class. He will retune your guitar, even if you are in the middle of the Bach Chaconne. Even if you are in the middle of the runs in the Bach Chaconne, he will retune your guitar. Not that he is a mean person; he is extremely warm and kind. I simply think he cannot bear to hear an out-of-tune guitar, and his ear demands that he administer an instant remedy. Had Dyens lived at the time of Bach, I think there is little question of where he would have stood regarding the issue of equal temperament. In fact, even in this, the 21st Century, he is distinctly a relativist and, in fact, Dyens’ book, 20 Letters, provides a specialized tuning regimen for the main intervals of each piece.
Of the two recitals that I heard, though there was an overarching structure, there was no specific program. Each Dyens recital starts with an improvisation. Do you think, though, that he plays more-or-less the same thing? I assure you, the two I heard were widely varied. The first, at the NYCCGS recital, was a nearly classical and extremely beautiful extended tremolo study. The Long Island improvisation was a jazzier number, composed of chords and runs. Next were Sor variations, nicely done but very, very quiet. Three waltzes completed the first halves of both programs. Dyens’ affection for Chopin is unsurprising. An equally subdued player of similar subtle sensibilities, Chopin reportedly said ‘Nothing is more beautiful than one guitar, save two.’ But then again, he never heard Dyens. It is difficult to imagine any other guitarist transcribing Chopin more sensitively or playing such music with greater refinement or delicacy. Apart from the exceptional palette of colors used, Dyens has a sense of rubato that transcends that of most modern musicians. Though he once told me he did not like photography because he likes to live in the present, the logical extension of Dyens’ thinking is that to live in the present, one must live in the past and future. Of this, he is in fact a master.
If there is one weakness to his playing, it is also its strength. Everything Dyens touches turns pretty much to Dyens. Barrios, Sor, Villa-Lobos all end up more-or-less assimilated into Dyens/Barrios, Dyens/Sor and Dyens/Villa-Lobos. Even those who have played the V-L Prelude #5 for decades will come out of a Dyens concert wondering if what he played were the same notes they’ve had under their fingers all those years.
But who can complain? Dyens’ performance practices are riveting and hold your attention completely. As suggested, much of his art happens inside his head; it is, in a way, conceptual, and as such, Dyens is fairly unconcerned with the physical realities of time and space. He takes big chances in performing suicidal feats of speed and change of hand position and, as he is a genius at calculating the odds, they always pay off. Frets? Who needs frets? If need be, he skates right off the neck of the guitar, into the clear void above the soundhole, still maintaining hand-position and obtaining his own odd tonalities. Though subtle and refined, Dyens is also a showy and exciting performer, who can (and does) get his audience to its feet. His arrangements of jazz standards that took up the bulk of the second halves of both programs included Take the A Train and Over the Rainbow; what Dyens does with these pieces has to be seen (and heard) to be believed.
At both programs, Dyens served up an encore of the newest of his ravishing works—the Angel Waltz (composed in a green room in LA). At the Long Island concert, there was a very charming moment when Roland forgot what came next, put his finger to his head like the proverbial absent-minded professor, and after only a second, his face lit up, and without breaking stride, he completed this most lovely Lauro-like piece(Dyens/Lauro, of course).
John Williams, you can say, takes up where Dyens leaves off. The softest sound that Williams produces equals Dyens’ loudest. Dyens is relaxed and casual. Williams is wound tight. Dyens arrives barehanded and borrows a guitar. Williams is loaded for bear and has a Smallman, a mike and two speakers. Dyens compels, or impels, you to listen. Williams orders you to listen (sometimes quite literally). Dyans requires (and gets) a noiseless audience. Williams’ audience coughs, sneezes, and in general makes a hell of a racket. Greenberg’s law: Artists get the audience they deserve.
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ROLAND DYENS AND HIS MUSICAL STYLE
Guitarist and composer Roland Dyens was born in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, on October 19th, 1955. He moved in 1961 to France, where he has lived ever since in Paris and its suburbs. Dyens began playing guitar and composing at the age of nine. Four years later, Dyens began studying with Spanish classical guitarist Alberto Ponce at l’Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. Dyens received his Licence de Concert in 1976 from l’Ecole Normale. He also studied composition, conducting, and orchestration under Désiré Dondeyne. He received first prize in harmony, counterpoint, and analysis. After graduating from l’Ecole, Dyens began to build his musical career. He received awards such as the Special Prize of the International Competition of Alessandria and the Grand Prize of the Charles-Cros Academia for his recording Hommage à Villa-Lobos. Besides being a laureate of the Beracasa and Menuhin Foundations (1980), Dyens was also honored in 1988 by the magazine Guitarist as one of the 100 best contemporary guitarists of any style. He has performed concerts and taught master classes in France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Hungary, Indonesia, the United States, Brazil, and many other countries. He has appeared on the cover of major guitar magazines including Les Cahiers de la Guitare (France), Classical Guitar (England), Gitarre & Laute (Germany), Guit’art (Italy) and Gitary Swiat (Poland). From October of 1998 to June of 2000, Dyens taught a classical guitar class at the jazz and rock school in Paris called simply l’Ecole. Currently, Dyens lives in Ville d’Avray, just outside Paris, and teaches at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, where he began teaching in June of 2000 after the retirement of his teacher, Alberto Ponce.
Dyens has recorded twelve albums that include a wide variety of repertoire. Some of the pieces on his albums were written for the guitar by well-known composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos, Fernando Sor, and Joaquin Rodrigo; however, many of the pieces on Dyens’ albums are his own arrangements or compositions. Some of his arrangements are of pieces by composers such as Frederic Chopin, Erik Satie, and Maurice Ravel. Other arrangements are of jazz standards by artists such as Django Reinhardt and Thelonius Monk. He has also arranged many French popular songs.
Dyens’ published compositions include forty-eight pieces for solo guitar, one guitar duo, eight pieces for guitar ensemble, one piece for guitar and string quartet, and three pieces for guitar and string orchestra. Dyens’ published arrangements include fifty solo guitar arrangements, three arrangements for guitar ensemble, and one arrangement for guitar and string quartet. Dyens describes his education as classical and formal, a typical music conservatory education. His experience with jazz and popular music came from his own explorations outside of his conservatory studies. Dyens emphasizes that he did not set out to combine musical styles. As he heard music he enjoyed, he integrated it naturally into his compositions.
To Dyens, composition and performance are linked. He views himself in the tradition of composer-guitarists such as Fernando Sor and Mauro Giuliani. His style is flexible and eclectic. His most important influences include European art music, French popular songs, American jazz, and South American jazz and popular styles. Dyens’ forms are often drawn from popular music, his harmonies from jazz.
A few of his pieces have influences from India and Saudia Arabia, for example, Concerto en Si and Hamsa. Concerto en Si, a concerto for solo guitar accompanied by guitar ensemble, is influenced by sitar music of India. The ensemble work Hamsa is influenced by Arabic music, especially the last movement. Even the title comes from Arabic. Hamsa is Arabic for five and refers to the five fingers of the “hand of Fatma”, which is symbolic for protection against evil and are often depicted on amulets worn around the neck. Dyens attempts to consciously recognize the diverse sources from which his musical style is drawn. He often pays homage to composers of the past who have influenced his work. It is perhaps ironic that a composer as creative and original as Dyens writes many works that are titled as homages, but this is characteristic of Dyens’ humility and desire to recognize small details drawn from prior works. Even if the majority of a work is newly composed and one or two small elements drawn from another composer, Dyens is likely to title the work as an homage. In addition to titular indications of homage, Dyens uses directions to the performer to indicate allusion and homage. The directions to the performer in Eloge de Leo Brouwer, Ville d’Avril, and Deux Hommages a Marcel Dadi specify works to which allusions are made. In other homages like Hommage à Villa-Lobos, allusions are not identified in the performance notes but are implied by movement titles like Bachianinha, which alludes to the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos. In each of his homages, Dyens’ personality comes through. He says that he does not want to hide behind homage but prefers to let his personal touch be clearly evident while acknowledging his debts to the past.
This is similar to his approach to arranging, in which music of other composers bends to Dyens’ will and bears his fingerprints. He says that arranging is an art of sacrifice, knowing what to omit and what to add to make the piece idiomatic for the guitar. When arranging a piece, Dyens begins by choosing key and deciding whether he will use scordatura. The choice of key and scordatura is often designed to place the tonic and dominant notes on open strings. Then, as Dyens makes the arrangement, he seeks to use the tone colors of the guitar to highlight the most interesting aspects of the piece. He also freely adds his own ideas to his arrangements. One could apply to Dyens’ arrangements what Mark Greenberg said in a review of a Dyens performance, “Everything Dyens touches turns pretty much to Dyens. Barrios, Sor, Villa-Lobos all end up more-or-less assimilated into Dyens/Barrios, Dyens/Sor, and Dyens/Villa-Lobos.” Dyens draws from many sources but is defined by none of them.
Dyens’ Musical Style
Dyens’ musical style is eclectic and original. Dyens can adapt and combine many different musical idioms, seemingly with little effort and few lines of demarcation. For example, in L.B. Story he pays homage to both Leo Brouwer and Leonard Bernstein while managing to still be uniquely Dyens. In Deux Hommages à Marcel Dadi, he pays homage to Dadi and to Lauro, one of Dadi’s favorite composers. In spite of the elements of other composers’ music, Dyens’ works have a unique sound. This is due to the sensitivity to sound and timbre, the unusual rhythms, the syncopated melodies that unexpectedly spring forth from within the accompaniment, and the incorporation of a variety of extended guitar techniques.
Dyens frequently uses ostinato patterns to create an atmosphere. Then he introduces melodies, often syncopated, that emerge from the ostinato accompaniment, often weaving in and out of the range of the accompaniment as, for example, in the Tuh? movement of Hommage à Villa-Lobos. Dyens’ sensitivity to sound and timbre is reminiscent of other French composers including Debussy, who viewed timbre not as decoration but as integral to musical design. Dyens’ father was a painter, and Dyens says that he learned from his father to love colors and to be a painter with sound, creating many shades of tone. Dyens’ irregular rhythms are evident in many works including his famous Libra Sonatine. Irregular rhythms are also featured in the Cuba Libre movement of Éloge de Léo Brouwer, in which the irregular rhythms were partly derived from Cuban music, especially that of Brouwer.
Dyens’ titles frequently involve jeux des mots, plays on words. Often he combines two words to create a new word that previously did not exist. For example, Solilogue, the title of the first movement of Éloge de Léo Brouwer, is a play on the French word soliloque, which means soliloquy. By substituting a “g” for a “q”, Dyens combines soli(loque)+(dia)logue, implying that he is simultaneously talking to himself and having a dialogue with Brouwer. Another example of this word play is Climazonie, the title of the first movement of Hommage á Villa-Lobos. This word combines Clima(t)+(Ama)zonie to imply that this movement is evoking the musical climate of the Amazon river and therefore of Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos. These word plays are a part of Dyens’ style and add insight and sometimes humor to his works.
Dyens’ wit is also evident in the notes to the performer. For example, in Lettre XIII: Lettre et le néant, a page of blank musical staves reminiscent of John Cage’s 4’33”, Dyens explains in a note to the performer that the blank page is intentional and therefore not an excuse to get a refund from the publisher for the set of 20 lettres.
The wit that is evident in Dyens’ titles and performance notes is also evident in his music. In the performance notes to Si Brouwer m’était conté, the fourth movement of Éloge de Léo Brouwer, Dyens tells the performer that a short quotation of Elogio de la Danza by Brouwer is hidden in the music. Hidden indeed, the quotation consists of five thirty-second notes in an obscure accompanimental passage. Also, in an intense part of Si Brouwer m’était conté, Dyens quotes a taunting theme used by children on the playground. In a personal interview, Dyens explained that he introduced this theme for surprise and humor because he does not want to take himself too seriously.
Dyens’ Guitar Techniques
Dyens is very specific about the guitar techniques to be used in his pieces. If the guitar is a miniature orchestra, as some say, then Dyens is an orchestrator of the guitar. In many of his pieces, timbre and special guitar techniques are more important than the notes and harmonies. Many of his themes are first created as improvisations on the guitar, then refined away from the guitar, then returned to the guitar in their final version. He delights in thinking of effects that seem impossible to create on the guitar and then finding a way to make them possible. He uses many extended guitar techniques, such as strumming the strings behind the nut, plucking behind the fretting hand, right-hand tapping, left-hand tapping, and tremolo strumming know as dedillo. Dyens has developed his own notation for many of these techniques. He also includes sentences of technique description at various points in his pieces. One of the hallmarks of his music is how many of these technical effects he uses. He also includes very specific directions about dynamics and timbre, sometimes from note to note.
The specific nature of Dyens’ musical notation is worthy of comment. Many of his pieces sound like improvisations, but he notates every detail with extreme precision. The typical jazz standard is notated in a “fake book” where the melody and chord symbols are given and each performer realizes the work. The world of “classical” music, on the other hand, is usually focused on accurate performance of exactly what is notated. Dyens combines the improvisatory sound of jazz with the notational practices of “classical” music to allow any performer who is truly attentive to detail to create a performance that sounds remarkably similar to Dyens’ performance of the same work. Some jazz performers might feel that this exact notation encroaches on the freedom of the performer, while classical players are more likely to appreciate this level of detail. Dyens simply says that his music demands such complex notation to represent the complex reality of the sounds he is seeking.
In the preface to his 20 Lettres, directed to intermediate guitar students, he outlines three areas of guitar technique that he feels are often neglected. The first of these areas is tuning based on the chords of the next piece to be performed. Dyens recommends that instead of using the same method of tuning before every piece, the guitarist should tune using selected chords from the piece to create an improvisatory prelude as early lutenists did when tuning. The second area Dyens addresses in this preface is the damping of notes after their written duration. Guitarists frequently allow notes to ring past their written durations, and many guitar pieces are written with the assumption that performers will allow notes to continue to ring. Dyens contends that the notation should clarify whether such continued resonance is desired; he describes techniques for stopping resonance when appropriate. The third area that Dyens addresses in this preface is the avoidance of left-hand shifting noises. Many guitarists ignore or accept these noises, but Dyens prioritizes the elimination of these unintentional squeaks that can distract from the music. He covers all three topics in depth and develops special notations in each of these three areas to clarify precise techniques for performance. Attention to these concerns is evident in his other pieces as well.
In his master classes, Dyens is especially attentive to these three areas as well as to other musical details. He says that a consistent rhythmic pulse is the most important element in music. Dyens says that flexibility and freedom of interpretation develop within the structure of the rhythmic pulse. Dyens believes that tone colors are crucial to beautiful interpretation on the guitar. He also emphasizes the importance of articulation, accent, and not overusing arpeggiation of chords.
Dyens’ art is one in which apparent paradoxes are reconciled. Control over each detail does not eliminate freedom, rather it creates freedom. As Dyens exhibits control over each aspect, he also gain more choices and possibilities. Writing homages to the past does not bind the composer to imitating prior models, it frees him to recognize his influences and forge new music for the future.
"Ton jeu est fruit d'une curiosité sans fin et d'un courage infini qui te permettent de réaliser les rêves existants en ton esprit sans âge et qui sont aussi nombreux que les pas sur ton énorme territoire artistique"