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Vitor Noah Moraes Sandes




Univ.Prof.Dr.phil. M.A. Andreas Dorschel

Institut 14: Musikästhetik


März 2017

L’Imagérie de nos Pensées – R. Marino Arcaro

The aim of this thesis is to present the piece “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”, 10
preludes for solo guitar, written by the composer Rafael Marino Arcaro, as well as give
a general picture of the composer’s whole production.

Based on interviews with Marino Arcaro, this essay goes beyond the composer’s
musical text, introducing the atmosphere of the pieces through many external
associations, such as visual allusions and literature references.

From a performer’s point of view who first dealt with Arcaro’s writing, and to
whom the piece was dedicated, the thesis also discusses technical issues, as well as
interpretation and performance.


Das Ziel dieser Masterthesis ist, das Werk „L’Imagérie de nos Pensées“ vom
Komponisten Rafael Marino Arcaro, welches aus 10 Préludes besteht, zu präsentieren
und auch einen generellen Einblick geben in den Kompositionsprozess.

Basierend auf Interviews mit Marino Arcaro, werde ich einen Essay schreiben,
welcher über den blossen Notentext hinausgeht, und darin die Atmosphäre des Stückes
mit vielen aussermusikalischen Assoziationen, visuellen Anspielungen und literarischen
Referenzen beschreiben.

Vom Gesichtspunkt des Interpreten aus gesehen, welcher sich als Erster mit dem
Werk auseinandergesetzt hat und welchem das Werk auch gewidmet ist, wird die
Masterthesis gewisse Fragen der Technik, Interpretation und Performance behandeln.

1. Introduction........................................................................................................1

2. R. Marino Arcaro...............................................................................................2

3. L’Imagérie de nos Pensées.................................................................................6

3.1.Le Bateaux-mouches Vides à Minuit............................................................10
3.2.L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle II...................................................13
3.3.A Musician’s Feverish Mind……………………………………………….15

4. Conclusion……………………………………………………………………..18

5. Bibliography…………………………………………………………………...19
1. Introduction

In 1999 the great pianist Friedrich Gulda forged his own death, claiming that people
would only recognize his work after he was dead. The aim of this work is to recognize
the value of good new music as well as to promote the art in which I believe.

I first met Rafael Marino Arcaro many years ago, as a guy who studied cinema and
played some Baden Powell on his guitar. Since then he has shown me his music with
which I was deeply touched and felt I should show everybody how great was this
composer’s works. On that note, I should say I feel very lucky and honored to have
been the first musician to get in touch Arcaro’s art and to have, since then, believed and
supported his music with the same passion that I still do.

Right after we had met, he asked me to record two of his Preludes, “Para Poder
Parar o Tempo” and “Le Bateaux-Mouches Vides à Minuit”, to include in his portfolio
for his application to the bachelor in composition at the Conservatoire Supérieur de
Musique et Danse de Paris – he was not called for the audition process at that time. Despite
of that, he kept working and we kept in touch; I asked him to write a faster and livelier
piece. Not long after that, he sent me “A Musician’s Feverish Mind” and “Dadá e o
Diabo Louro”, the latter kindly dedicated to me. We recorded both of these preludes to
include it in his portfolio for the application at the Royal Academy of Music and other
conservatoires such as Peabody Institute and, again, the Conservatoire Supérieur de
Musique et Danse de Paris. He was offered a scholarship and place in the PG master
programme at the RAM after the auditions.

As our professional relation grew stronger, Arcaro sent me more pieces, we worked
on it for some time and slowly I felt free to make a few minor changes in some
preludes, fulfilling the role of unofficial reviser. The last prelude “Emotionless” was
inspired by some improvisations I performed. Also as our friendship grew stronger, I
felt free to suggest him to dedicate the whole piece for me instead of just one prelude.
Fortunately, he kindly accepted my request.

2. R. Marino Arcaro

2.1 Biography

Rafael Marino Arcaro was born in 1990, in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil. He
was raised in a very typical and ordinary background, from a simple family with no
music tradition. His music education started at the age of 10 with brazilian guitar
lessons, later on he had private lesson on piano and jazz guitar, which he attended for a
few years. From a very young age, Rafael had more contact with pop and rock music
than with classical music. Through his teen years, he had different musical groups,
always acting as a music writer and arranger and performing many different instruments
in those settings – electric and acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and singing.
Rafael, at the age of 17 intended to study classical piano at the university but that was
not possible since his parents were very much against it. He then chose to study Film
and graduated in Social Communication with emphasis in Cinema at the Armando
Álvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP University) in São Paulo. In this area he worked
in many projects as photography director, film editor, sound editor, and soundtrack

Having finished his university studies, Marino Arcaro begins classical guitar studies
with the brazilian producer and guitarist Paulo Martelli and subsequently harmony
lessons with theorist and scholar Marisa Ramires – two figures of the utmost
importance on Arcaro’s life, since he had no formal musical education, these two
professors were responsible for the basis of his music knowledge. By this time, Arcaro
becomes an aspiring classical musician, even without any formal music education he
goes really deep in his private lessons and takes its musical studies very seriously; he
even developed his own self-taught musical studies schedule, learning from important
theorists books and great composer’s score using the tools he had to discover the
classical music universe on his own. He also joined a choir for which he sung for 4
years the repertoire of sacred unaccompanied chorus music. It is interesting to notice
that Arcaro have never had any composition tutor; his lessons with Ms. Ramires were
based on harmony and compositional techniques analysis of the baroque and romantic
repertoire, ensuring Marino’s musical language a very authentic and sincere style of
writing, without any direct influences.

He was approved with a scholarship at the Composition Master’s Programme at the
Royal Academy of Music, where he is currently studying. It is quite an achievement
worth of comment, the fact that even though he applied for the bachelor programme, he
was approved in the master programme, without any previous bachelor degree or any
equivalent diploma in music.

2.2 Work

R. Marino Arcaro’s main artistic principle is to go beyond musical content with his
music writing, i.e., the scope of his compositions is to communicate ideas that go
beyond the universe of musical structures, themes and general innovations; ideas that
touch on aesthetics and conception of thought, always with an eye on tradition and
development of musical tradition in our current contemporary context. At the present
moment – March of 2017 – his finished compositions are: “L’Émancipation de
L’Esprit” for large string orchestra, horns, prepared piano and percussion;
“Brincadeiras Brasileiras”, 5 songs for mixed chorus and solo voices, “Toward
Angels”, for soprano, alto, harpsichord and viola da gamba; “Le Phénomène de la
Journée”, 3 movements for cello and piano; “Poemas da Amiga”, 4 songs for high
voice and piano; “If It All Were Different” and “In Light We Prosper”, for solo piano;
“L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”, 10 preludes for solo guitar; “L’Inviolabilité de La
Sainteté Maternelle I”, for solo bass viola da gamba; and “L’Inviolabilité de La
Sainteté Maternelle II”, for solo guitar (postlude from “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”)
and “Here Devil Lies” for string quartet, winds, piano and tam-tam. He is currently
working on a new guitar concerto, a second book of preludes for guitar solo and other
chamber music ensembles.

His most important influences are (chronologically) John Dowland, Henry Purcell,
J. S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, György Ligeti and Arvo Pärt.

The composer stated that “the listener should be able to grasp the aesthetic scope
and emotional meaning of the music and it is the composer’s responsibility to help the
listener achieve this deeper level of understanding and listening”. Another important
aspect of his music is the fact that Arcaro does not worries about aesthetic prejudice or

general musical innovations within the niche of the academia world of composition,
however he still preserves contemporaneity and authenticity in his writing.

Arcaro does not believe in writing music with either entertainment or academic
purposes. With absolutely no artistic compromises, his music aims to be accessible and
capable of being appreciated by people outside of the academic spectrum. His works
make clear that he has a deep understanding of all compositional techniques and
structural elements inside the classical music canon, yet he is able to put his knowledge
in practice without “showing off”, working with complexity but always exclusively and
fully devoted to serve the purpose of expression.

An important characteristic of Arcaro’s writing from the performer point of view is

the malleability inherent to his style. It is evident that the composer not only values the
performer’s freedom and uniqueness, but many times the music itself needs, asks and
even requires the performer to participate actively in the construction of its scope and
expression, granting each piece with the performer’s own personality and singularity.
This malleability is clearly expressed in many different ways. For example, the titles
of the pieces usually suggest a very subjective thematic, sometimes accompanied by a
subtitle that goes even deeper, as in “If It All Were Different” for solo piano, which
carries the following subtitle: “a music work for solo piano on the spirit of hopefulness
and prowess”. Besides, the musical text itself is marked by numerous expressive and
agogic marks which have an important and almost structural function inside the music
but are not to be followed strictly; these marks, on the contrary, aid the performer to
understand the piece better giving him/her more freedom to express their own particular
view of the musical work.
Sometimes the preface presents also notes on the interpretation and on how to
approach the music itself, most of the time encouraging the performer to read the piece
with greater freedom than it is often permitted in the contemporary music universe. For
example in “If It All Were Different” for piano solo, the composer dedicates one page to
give instructions on how to read the score in terms of rhythm, dynamics and tempo. The
first paragraph of this preface, “Notes on Notation”, resumes well the approach that
composer expects from the performer and emphasizes the plastic and malleable aspect
of his music.

“IF IT ALL WERE DIFFERENT is a solo piano piece which offers a number of
different interpretations; (…) encourages the performer to find his/her own way of
rendering the work…” 1

Furthermore, the pieces “Brincadeiras Brasileiras”, “If It All Were Different”, “Le
Phénomène de la Journée”, “L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle I” and
“L’Émancipation de L’Esprit “, feature a preface with precise and detailed instructions,
from how to prepare the piano until how to perform some very specific accents,
gestures, extended techniques and effects.
And in some pieces the composer writes a small text explaining the music’s
thematics and general expression, in order to help the performer getting inside the
character, and ambience of the piece. It is important to comment here that composer
wishes not that the performers oblige to his every request of expression and score
particularity; on the contrary, he wishes that the performers get in touch with the feel
and expression of the music with the purpose that they can render it freely and with
spirit. Marino Arcaro is very much aware of music performance and clearly believes
that true performance and true musicianship comes from within, i.e., that it comes from
a deeper understanding of the music’s expression. And it is because of that, that he tries
hard to make his music’s expression and scope clear for the performers.

For example in “L’Émancipation de L’Esprit”:

“…is a music work on the liberation of oneself’s spirit from the flesh and earthly
thoughts; it is about the inner battle we must engage in to achieve cosmic bliss and
metaphysical peace through faith.”2

In “Toward Angels”:

“a work of sacred music about the calling of God for help,

about begging to be heard and asking for mercy

Arcaro, Marino: “If It All Were Different”, Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016
Arcaro, Marino: “L’Émancipation de L’Esprit”, Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016

a work about hope
about faith in a higher entity which may or may not hear our supplication” 3

And “In Light We Prosper”:

“is a work about the triumph of hope, love and thought over our limited life and
inexorable death; about the believe in the ascendance of the spirit over to the eternal
metaphysical; it is a work about faith;” 4

3. “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”

The work consists of 10 preludes written for solo guitar dedicated and revised to and
by the author of this thesis. Furthermore, the preludes “Dadá e o Diabo Louro” and
“Emotionless” are fruits of collaboration between Arcaro and I. Despite of being a set
of pieces, “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées” is not designed as a suite. The preludes are
independent in order, technique and character.

The work’s title literally translated is “The Imagery of our Thoughts”. With this
work, the composer aims to represent through music abstract images of thought, i.e., the
abstract landscapes that our minds create through subjective reasoning. The
fundamental inspiration for the ambience and thematic of these preludes comes from the
literary work by Marcel Proust, “In Search of Lost Time” – this is in regard to the poetry
of language, to the primary focus on subjectiveness as a means of expressing greater
truth and to the search for memory’s rationality in personal and abstract objects.

A good example of this congruence of aesthetic thinking between Proust and Arcaro
is this guitar book’s prelude number 5, “Élégie à une Memoire Oubliée” which
translates “Elegy for a lost memory”; in this piece, Arcaro aims to represent the search
of an inner feeling we get when it is activated by a lost memory, i.e., something we
forgot but that still makes us feel something but we do not know why. He achieves that
by commenting on the materials and harmonies of the 2nd movement of Ravel’s
Concerto for Piano in G major mixed with his own style creating a the contrast between

Arcaro, Marino: “Toward Angels”, Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016
Arcaro, Marino: “In Light We Prosper”, Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016

memory and the activated feeling – we could go deeper and say that Ravel’s music is
the lost memory and that the piece written by Arcaro is the representation of the feeling
aroused by this memory which is not concrete but just a sparkle of time.

“L’Imagérie de nos Pensées” is a very representative piece inside of Marino

Arcaro’s work. A portrait of the composer finding his own style in regards to
authenticity and genuineness of expression yet already with a very fine, careful and
elaborated approach, demonstrating not only deep understanding of the canon of
classical music and technical mastery of the musical material but also great creativity on
how to deal with it as a particular and sincere artistic expression.

The preludes were written between 2012 and 2016 and the first prelude also marks
Rafael’s first experiences with writing music in his style – Para Poder Parar o Tempo
is the first piece that Arcaro wrote and did not throw away. On the other hand, the last
prelude, Emotionless, was composed 4 years later and shows clearly a big progress
inside the composer’s language, featuring very contrasting techniques, thematic,
atmosphere and style.

The biggest influence that is primarily noticed in L’Imagerie de dos Pensées is Jean-
Claude Debussy’s music, more specifically his Preludes written for piano solo. Both
musically and conceptually there are many relations and reminiscences: just as
Debussy, Arcaro’s preludes work with only one particular atmosphere and style which
is developed throughout each one of the preludes. Besides that it’s interesting to observe
the relation between the thematic in each composer’s work: both composers have the
images as principle inspiration for their preludes, but while Debussy describes literal
landscapes and pictures of man and nature in his music, Arcaro describes abstract
landscapes and feelings from the deepest places of our minds.

Even though the composer doesn’t intend to present in its music any unprecedented
aspect, looking more specifically inside the classical guitar literature frame, there is
very few works that could compare to the piece under discussion in terms of proportion
and style. The length of the whole set of preludes is approximately 45 to 50 minutes,
and it is probably one of the guitar pieces which goes deeper in the language of
composers from the impressionist period, making great use of typical harmonies and
scales, nevertheless not sounding derivative.

Another interesting aspect of the piece is the choice of instrumentation, what this
represents and how this does reflect on the music. Even though Arcaro uses mostly the
piano to compose, he alleges that the guitar was always his first instrument, the one he
played better and has most affection. He seriously studied classical guitar for 4 years,
and even thought of pursuing a performer career. Knowing that, is natural that one
expects that his writing for the guitar would approximate from all guitarist-composers
who obviously wrote their music directly on the guitar, exploring the idiomatic
technical facilities of the instrument, using parallel chords and gestures that just fit
naturally and perfectly the instrument’s anatomy, exploring very idiomatic techniques.
Unlike these composers, Arcaro’s pieces for guitar at first sight seem like probably
written on the piano, directly on staff due to the big amount of information on the score:
various awkward and uncomfortable passages, positions, chords, shifts and all kind of
technical difficulties that you can find on guitar literature, allied with complex
harmonies, intricate counterpoint, extremely wide and detailed dynamic frame and
profound expression marks and notations. The piece represents a great challenge, both
technically and musically, even for the most prepared guitarists.

At a second moment though, with a more careful reading, fingering and subsequent
overcoming of some of its technical difficulties, the piece unfolds itself naturally, once
you understand the gestures which are implicit in the music and the malleability which
is intrinsic to the composer’s writing –in each and every phrase. It gets also clear that he
works a lot on the natural resonances of the guitar, using its “lack” of sound volume as a
great quality to create a delicate and unostentatious poetic in its music. The composer
shows itself completely aware of all the specificities, and possibilities of the instrument.
A more careful reading proves that the pieces were probably composed on the guitar but
with the idea of stretching the instrument’s boundaries in terms of harmonic
modulations, figuration and texture complexity.

It is interesting to read the preface of “If It All Were Different” and see what the
composer expects from the performer’s interpretation. This reading makes it easier for
performer to understand better Arcaro’s writing and how his music moves and flows. I,
personally, noticed that, in general, many of these instructions given in this preface with
some exceptions apply perfectly to “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”:

“IF IT ALL WERE DIFFERENT is a solo piano piece which offers a number of
different interpretations; while the composer encourages the performer to find his/her
own way of rendering the work, it is important that a few remarks be made on the
interpretation of the written rhythm, dynamics, the tempo and written notes so that the
performer can better understand this work’s score.
THE WRITTEN RHYTHM should not be regarded as a most accurate register of the
piece’s rhythmic rendition, it should, on the contrary, be regarded as a prescriptive and
approximate register of the piece’s note organisation. A register that the performer
should use as reference for organising the duration of the written notes himself in a way
that he/she may discover his/her own unique manner of performing the work.
THE WRITTEN DYNAMICS are also prescriptive and should not be regarded as
mandatory, they should be read in a comparative manner, i.e., the performer should
understand the difference in dynamic between the different notes and sections but
he/she should not feel obliged to conform with the specificity on the written dynamics.
The composer does not want that this sort of nit-picky reading of the piece’s written
score impedes a more natural and heartfelt rendition of the music.
THE TEMPO should be very free, and it is up to the performer to find his/her own
suitable tempo, because different readings of the piece’s score will suggest slightly
different tempos. However, the performer must keep in mind that whichever the tempo,
the 32nd and 64th notes must be always fastely rendered; also, the B part of the piece,
the textural section (…) must not be rendered rapidly; the performer must give time to
each chord so that the textural sonority can be perceived and appreciated.
THE WRITTEN NOTES, and not their specified duration, are this score’s most valuable
musical parameter. The performer should pay attention to the contrapuntal lines that
are hidden amongst the disorganised notes of the pointillistic texture as he must make
sure that these melodies be heard; he/she must accentuate the melodies’ lines to create
the impression of a legato melodic line even in the most staccato-pointillistic sections.
The performer must not regard this work as a strictly textural piece because there are a
great number of hidden melody lines, a clear motive and a main theme; even in the B
section of the piece, there are very clear contrapuntal lines that should be heard. Again,
the duration of the written notes must not be strictly complied with, the goal here is, on

the contrary, to give musical effect to the written score and this, will not be achieved
rhythmically but melodically.” 5

3.1 “Les Bateaux-mouches Vides à Minuit”

“The Empty Bateaux-mouches at Midnight” would be the title of the piece in a free
translation. It is the only one from the whole set of preludes which its title refers to a
more literal image, even though Arcaro is not interested in describing in his music this
literal image, but instead this image as a thought fantasy and memory-based feeling.

The A part of the piece refers to a very dreamy atmosphere inside of the following
scenario: a very dark and silent night in Paris, an empty river bank where all one can
hear is the water and the luxurious empty boats hitting each other at the docks. The B
part refers to Arcaro’s memory of this landscape, what he felt being there at that
moment. It is a great example of the contrast in what would be a more impressionistic
representation of this landscape – the A section –, and Arcaro’s representation through
the filter of memory and subjectiveness – the B section. What is also interesting is the
fact that in the recapitulation of the A section, we can clearly notice the changing in that
scenery once the memory-based feeling was present, i.e., the B section finds its way in
to the A part and changes it.

From all preludes, this one in particular carries the most noticeable influences from
impressionistic music, making extensive use of the whole tone scale as the basis of its
main theme. In image 1, we can see a E Major 9th with a minor 7th chord without the
major 3rd, a typical example of impressionist harmony – in fact, we can find the same
chord on the beginning of the prelude of Debussy’s Suite Bergamesque with the only
difference that Arcaro here is using this chord as a dominant while Debussy uses it as a
Tonic chord in the modal mixolydian.

Arcaro, Marino: “If It All Were Different”, Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016

Image 1: “Le Bateaux-mouches Vides à Minuit” bars 41 to 43 – Dominant chord
with major 9th and without leading tone.

Image 2: “Suite Bergamasque” - Claude Debussy - bar 1 and 2 - Tonic chord with
major 9th and without leading tone.

In image 3, we have an example of a whole-tone constructed chord substituting a

secondary dominant towards the A dominant. This dominant is spelled without the
major 3rd, and with a 4th in the place of the 5th, also with a 9th leading towards D
major which is the key of the piece, however, this D major key is always spelled either
with the whole-tone scale or with the aeolian mode and we only get the D major in all
its purity in the final chord. Another interesting feature of this piece worth commenting
is the use of the whole-tone scale in the most stable moments of this prelude’s narrative
– differently from the impressionists, Arcaro uses the whole-tone scale to create this
unusual static atmosphere using it to state non-modulating sections of the prelude.

Image 3: “Le Bateaux-mouches Vides à Minuit” bars 91 to 94 – Whole tone chord,
fulfilling the role of dominant secondary chord.

And in image 4 we can see Arcaro using modulations using two dominants that are
a minor third apart moving from an E dominant 9th chord to a G dominant chord in its
first inversion.

Image 4: “Le Bateaux-mouches Vides à Minuit” bars 117 to 120 – Modulation

between dominants with the interval of a 3rd from each other.

From the performer’s point of view, the aspect that it calls my attention the most,
especially in the A section of the piece, it’s the huge variety of fingerings that works for
the same passage offering the guitarist the possibility of changing completely the
colours, gestures and consequently the character of each passage just by changing small
details in the performance. The B section of the piece is way more demanding
technically and the performer has not much space to deal with colours and timbres since
there aren’t many fingering possibilities – the main challenge is to find a proper gesture
that preserve the voicing of each chord and gives the right direction for each phrase.
The three first lines of the third page are especially hard due to various big stretches and
uncomfortable positions. Not coincidently, that is also the passage with the most

complex harmonic progressions, which are not so frequently found in the traditional
guitar repertoire.

It is interesting to notice that, despite of the technical challenges that this prelude
presents the performer, this is not at all a virtuosic piece and as it is a relatively slow
movement all these difficulties are not evident, especially for a non-guitarist, however
this technical difficulty is attached to an intricate musical discourse which more than
complexity supports pure expression.

3.2 “L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle II”

Having problems to find a performer in Brazil to play “L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté

Maternelle I”, which Arcaro wrote for solo bass viol, he noticed that part of the piece
could be easily transcribed for guitar with no compromises. He then used the first page
of the viola da gamba piece entirely and literally, and from then on developed a new
piece for solo guitar, taking a different course from the work written for the gamba.

“L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle II”, for solo guitar, was written right after
“L’Imagérie de nos Pensées” was finished and consequently is not officially part of this
work, although it still preserves some relations and communicates with the previous
preludes for guitar, making a perfect postlude, and perhaps a possible bridge between
this first and the second book of preludes, on which Arcaro is working at the moment.

This piece represents one extreme side of the composer’s musical personality
compared to the preludes and even inside the whole frame of his work. It is the most
feminine piece that he wrote and features an especially delicate contrapuntal

Until the present moment this is the last piece Arcaro wrote for the guitar, and
consequently approximates way more in thematic and conceptual terms especially to his
latest edited compositions, “In Light We Prosper” and “Toward Angels”. It has a clear
thematic arc which is deeply marked by religiousness, although each one of these works
preserves a very singular aesthetic particularity.

Literally translated the title means “The Inviolability of the Maternal Sanctity”. The
composer dedicated this piece to his mother, and it carries the subtitle “Religious

fantasy”. The piece is an ode to motherhood as the most pure and sacred entity, which is
praised and glorified regardless of any religion. The piece exalts more specifically the
inviolable character of maternity. Even though it carries a devotional religious
character, the piece is not related to any particular religion itself, and it’s still considered
by the composer as secular music.

It is very clear throughout the piece the musical elements that refer to the maternal
sanctity and the ones that represent this other entity which pursuits this pure divinity in
order to profane and violate it. The first one is represented by the delicate atmosphere
that prevails throughout most of the piece. Eventually this purity suffers an attempt of
rupture, which is represented by the ascendant 16th notes which are mostly outside of
the diatonic spectrum. Every time this element appears it is somehow developed, each
time being longer and more complex than the one before – image 5.

One important musical aspect of the piece is the figure of suspensions and most
important, the divergence between the diatonic spectrum which surrounds the whole
piece and the contrasting elements outside the diatonic spectrum. The counterpoint is
predominantly based on intervals of 4ths and 2nds. The 3rds are featured as colour subjects
that impose unexpected leading tones. It is important to comment that, differently from
most of Arcaro’s guitar pieces, this work does not deals with harmony; all the
relationships between notes are based on consonance, dissonance, intervals and
subsequent resolutions, I would also state that the interruption of these expected
resolutions are a main part of the way the composer deals with musical discourse in this
particular work.

Image 5: “L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle II” - bars 14, 20 and 33.

Image 6: “L’Inviolabilité de la Sainteté Maternelle II” - bars 1 and 2 – The

intervals on which the piece is based on - 4ths represented by the red lines.

From a performer’s point of view, it is interesting how the piece still carries
reminiscences from the viola da gamba and consequently from early music. The
composer explores the natural resonances of the instrument, giving the guitar an
opportunity to speak in a way that reminds a lot the bass viol with its natural
resonances, asking and requiring the performer to play with many different articulations
in an early music style. It is a piece that is not so difficult technically and that gives a lot
of space for the performer to use many different colours and articulations.

3.3 “A Musicians Feverish Mind”

This is the second prelude from “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”. It was composed after
the composer had a bad fever crisis that led to hallucinations. During these
hallucinations, what he had in his mind was this musical material.

Even though this event was the inspiration for that piece, the music doesn’t literally
describe this particular episode. Instead it pictures a state of mind that oscillates
between agony, hysteria, trepidation and delirium. This atmosphere is created by a
harmonic progression that seems to constantly postpone its resolution, building a
tension that at some points relieves a bit, but never settles. The suggestion of constant
movement inside of the piece drives the listener through an unpredictable harmonic
path, marked by unexpected contrasts between the most beautiful and crude colours.
This sense of motion is enhanced by the use of the perpetuum mobile and amidst this
continuous flow of notes, motives are implied and developed throughout the piece.

The most essential aspect of the piece is the divergence between the very lyrical and
melodic yet anxious atmosphere which alternates with rhythmical and tempestuous
sections. This contrast is very evident and well represented on a big section from bars
36 to 49: after one very strong and agitated rhythmical section the piece comes back to
the same perpetuum mobile idea of the beginning, but now with an even more
mysterious character, with a harmony that leads the listener to expect another
rhythmical outburst; however, instead, this tension grows bigger until it finds an
unusual resolution in bar 44. Here, the composer uses simultaneously major and minor
sonorities, however he deals with this in such a way that in feels somewhat natural as if
this was the only path that the music could take at this point. In image 7, the first two
bars contain an arpeggiation of a B minor chord with an ornamental minor 6th with the
melody beginning in the major 7th and spelling most pitches of a B major scale. In bar
46, we have a E minor chord with an enharmonically spelled diminished 5th together
with a perfect 5th, the melody is in a major E key on bar 46 but it changes the pitches to
the minor mode so it can reach the major 3rd of the G chord in bar 48 which is also
spelled with an ornamental minor 6th. I should make clear at this point that this is not
the only way to analyse this harmonic passage as it suggests many different possibilities
of understanding – and that is one amazing characteristic –, however, I chose this
particular way because I found it to be the most objective to explain what is happening

in this passage. All of this creates a very unique effect which not only represents the
thematic duality of the piece but that also deals with complex harmonies in the realm of
the guitar with no complicated fingering, using its natural resonances to its advantage.

Image 7: “A Musicians Feverish Mind” bars 44 to 49

This tension reaches its pick and subsequently its resolution into a slow and delicate
coda. This contrast represents the oscillation between the agony of the fever and the
ecstasy of the hallucination, arriving in the end to a peaceful and serene place inside of
the mind’s insanity.

Image 8: “A Musicians Feverish Mind” bars 62 to 64

From the performer point of view this is very pleasant piece to play. Despite of
some technical difficulties everything works just fine and the performer has a lot of
space for experimentation regarding colours, articulations and dynamics. The dynamic
frame of this piece is especially broad and interesting, using for example a triple forte
(fff) in a section that mostly presents accentuated chords with harmonics in the 5th fret of
the instrument (image 8). One could think that Arcaro doesn’t know how to write for
the guitar, since it is pretty much impossible to produce a very loud and clear chord
playing only harmonics in this region of the instrument, however the composer is
completely aware of the musical result of what he wrote and intended to get this exact
percussive and strident sound effect that renders a very strong depletion that signals the
passage to the soft and lyrical coda.

4. Conclusion

The guitar literature, especially from the 20th century on, is marked by a division
between “guitarists-composers” and “non-guitarist composers”. It is a big turning point
in the history of the guitar, the moment when great composers such as Manuel de Falla
and Frank Martin took interest on the instrument and wrote marvelous music without
the technical limitations and cliches naturally and historically associated with the guitar.
There are very few examples of composers who don’t fit in either of these categories. In
my opinion, H. Villa-Lobos and R. Marino-Arcaro, are the only composers who, despite
of being in your essence and above all great composers, they also demonstrate a deep
respect and vast knowledge about the guitar, allowing them to create music of the

highest level to ennoble this instrument. Each one of these composers uses this
knowledge in a completely different way, but they have in common the aim of creating
an artistic work for the guitar with absolutely no compromises in the musical discourse.

Through this work I could reinforce my opinion that “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”
by R. Marino Arcaro is a very substantial and unique piece in the contemporary guitar
repertoire. I truly believe that this work will soon be naturally incorporated to the canon
of masterpieces of the guitar repertoire literature.

This thesis was written with very much excitement and joy and I am sure that even
if the piece was not dedicated to me and if I had absolutely no relation with the
composer I would still write this thesis with the same keenness and passion. This work
only corroborated my impression that R. Marino Arcaro is a truly great composer worth
to be noted and listened to.

I inherited a dream from my great professors (Rodrigo Carvalho, Eduardo Merinhos

and Paolo Pegoraro), which it has been dreamt through many generations by figures as
Andrés Segovia and Julian Bream, who spent their whole lives’ endeavoring to elevate
the classical guitar status, by playing the music that they believed to be from the highest
artistic quality, expanding the repertoire hoping that our beloved instrument would
someday be finally respected amidst the classical music circle. I believe that much as
this dream is very slowly becoming true, there is still a long path to be percussed. I
believe that Arcaro’s work for the guitar is a great contribution for the instrument
repertory, and I hope it will be a little help in the pursuit of this dream.

5. Bibliography


1. Arcaro, Marino: “L’Émancipation de L’Esprit” for large string orchestra, horns,

prepared piano and percussion. Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

2. Arcaro, Marino: “Brincadeiras Brasileiras”, 5 songs for mixed chorus and solo
voices. Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

3. Arcaro, Marino: “Toward Angels”, for soprano, alto, harpsichord and viola da
gamba. Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

4. Arcaro, Marino: “Le Phénomène de la Journée”, 3 movements for cello and

piano. Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

5. Arcaro, Marino: “Poemas da Amiga”, 4 songs for high voice and piano. Edições
Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

6. Arcaro, Marino: “If It All Were Different”, for solo piano. Edições Amarelo
Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

7. Arcaro, Marino: “In Light We Prosper”, for solo piano. Edições Amarelo
Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

8. Arcaro, Marino: “L’Imagérie de nos Pensées”, 10 preludes for solo guitar.

Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

9. Arcaro, Marino: “L’Inviolabilité de La Sainteté Maternelle I”, for solo bass viola
da gamba. Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.

10. Arcaro, Marino: “L’Inviolabilité de La Sainteté Maternelle II”, for solo guitar.
Edições Amarelo Canário, São Paulo, 2016.