Composer: Michael Colquhoun
Publisher: Alry Publications
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Performance Notes by Michael Colquhoun:
Salsa is a popular Hispanic-American urban dance music with deep African and Cuban roots. Charanga is a style of Salsa which was popular from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. What made Charanga unique was that along with the usual percussion section (congas, bongos/cowbell, timbales, maracas/guiro and clave) there was a string section and a flute lead. When the music was cocinando (or cooking), the percussion, piano, bass and strings would play a powerfully swinging, polyrhythmic patter over which the Charanga flutist was free to improvise complex and intricate riffs. These days, while Salsa is popular as ever, the Charanga as a separate entity is rare. The flute, however, continues to be an important solo instrument. This piece is a cubist portrait of Charanga, and is dedicated to all the great Latin Charanga flutists.
Charanga should be played both rhythmically and relaxed; it should swing. The opening, repeated measure is a typical Charanga ostinato, which is often referred to in the rest of the piece. It is always marked as “Air:” and is played by puffing short, unfocused bits of air across the embouchure hold. “Ord” returns the performer to normally produced tones. The constant switching between these two and other sonorities will require a lot of slow, careful practice before starting to speed the piece up to the tempo indicated.
There are also occasional sixteenth note rests, each with an accent mark underneath. Think of these as “stressed rests” and imagine a very loud sound (perhaps a rim shot on the timbales) occurring during this rest. It will help capture the rhythmic feel of the piece.
Accidentals are effective within the measure and at the pitch.