Joseph Lilore is the author of over 30 books for publishers such as Warner Bros. and United Artists, as well as working as a musician, composer, and arranger for a wide variety of artists and projects.
The books he wrote include teaching methods for guitar, bass, brass and woodwinds dealing with technique, composition, and improvising.
In this interview we talk about composition, arrangements, ensembles and other interesting things relate with his two last books: “Six dialogues with guitar and other instruments” and "Guitar Chords for the 21st Century"
Why do you have devoted to the composition? Who or what influenced you most?
Composing has always been my main interest as well as the guitar. As an avid student of music history and compositional process I've endeavored to compose in every genre, from the 14th century to the present. It was a paper I wrote on the various compositional techniques employed by Beethoven in his "Symphony #7" that led me to understand how I can weave my works together into a cohesive unit. These techniques are: precognition, misdirection, expansion and contraction, elemental overlap as well as melodic and rhythmic motivic developments. This paper, a result of years of work, is available for free on my website josephlilore.com under "Essays".
“Six dialogues with guitar and other instruments”. Can you talk us about how they came into reality? Do you compose with instrumentation in mind?
The six Dialogues are the result of my desire to compose works for the guitar and various instrumental ensembles where all the players have equal voices throughout - a true dialogue. I use more than one guitar (2, 3, or 4) in order to use bi-tonal chord groupings as well as certain voicings and movement.
I start with a certain ensemble in mind and write toward that goal. My main influence in orchestrating this music is Maurice Ravel. I play each part after I compose to check my work. I do my own proofreading and editing.
The difficulty of the pieces is fairly high academic level and the preparation of the works can be tricky given the precision required in writing, changes of tempo, measures, and adjustment difficulties. Who are the recipients of these works?
I wrote with the idea of adding to the repertory of ensemble music for professionals, enthusiasts of all levels, and college music majors wanting to collaborate with friends and colleagues in performance, recitals, jury exams or just getting together for enjoyment.
Do you have plans for make a recording?
I personally do not intend to put out a recording of the Dialogues. They can be heard on www.josephlilore.com as I recorded them - using a combination of computer programs: Sibelius, Garritan Orchestras and Pro Tools. It is my hope that some or all of the pieces will be recorded by professional or college level ensembles. The process took many months of work. It would be rewarding to hear them played by a live group. They can all be licensed for no cost just by contacting me. The Scores are available on www.amazon.com.
What does the guitar contribute in chamber groups?
The use of the guitar, and in this case multiple guitars, gives a limitless array of colors from which to choose. As Berlioz said, the guitar is a "miniature orchestra" providing us with an orchestra within an orchestra.
Can you explain the odds of actually writing for guitar in combination with other instruments?
Balance and equality are of prime concern when combining the guitar with mixed instrumental groupings. I want my work to showcase the potential and individuality of each member while at the same time fulfilling their role in the total work. Counterpoint drives my work and creates a platform on which these Dialogues are constructed.
Can you recommend us interesting music for guitar ensemble?
I am a huge fan of the Romero family and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. I find their approach and virtuosity truly compelling.
I know you've published a book with hundreds of chords. What's different with other dictionaries on the market?
"Guitar Chords for the 21st Century" is a dictionary of alternative chords which I based on the way modern composers moved beyond traditional chords. In this search for new tonal colors, not only have the chords been altered, but the manner in which they move and relate to each other has also been altered and expanded. Of these 20th Century chord structures, I've selected and fingered the most practical and feasible for the guitar. There are 308 chord types, each in six inversions, creating a total of 1, 848 C chords. The root is circled so as they move diatonically up the fingerboard a total of 22, 176 chords are created.
This is a dictionary of "colors" to be used in new compositions or mixed with traditional chords. They are labeled by the way they are constructed. For example, CPP5 = perfect, perfect 5th = C, G, D. A plus sign (+) means I have added a note or notes into the basic chords for added "color". I recommend everyone insert their own added notes in for countless original chords. Ex. C PP5+ = CGD+F#. I think everyone will find some useful information in this book.
For anyone interested in seeing what I mean, portions of this book are visible by going to my website, josephlilore.com under "Books" and clicking on Preview the book on Google Books.
Currently I'm working on a group of compositions for violin and guitar for one of my previous students who is in a Classical Guitar Master's program. I am also composing music for an independent film.