Py­otr tchaikovsky Dance Of The lit­tle Swans

Tchaikovsky’s fa­mously el­e­gant piece from the bal­let Swan Lake, ar­ranged and tran­scribed here by Bridget Mermikides – meet ‘les petits cygnes’.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Bridget Mermikides ar­ranges and tran­scribes a del­i­cate and el­e­gant piece by the Rus­sian com­poser, taken from the bal­let Swan Lake.

In this lat­est in­stal­ment of our clas­si­cal gui­tar se­ries we re­turn to the work of the great Tchaikovsky (1840-93), a Rus­sian com­poser who had an in­cred­i­ble abil­ity to pro­duce count­less melodies char­ac­terised by both tech­ni­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion and broad pub­lic ap­peal. The pop­u­lar­ity of his work is so es­tab­lished, that his many themes for bal­let and or­ches­tra (in­clud­ing the 1812 Over­ture, his 5th Sym­phony, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker Suite and The Sleep­ing Beauty) are not only per­formed in their orig­i­nal bal­let and or­ches­tral forms to this day, but are also em­bed­ded in pop­u­lar cul­ture, film and TV around the world. Tchaikovsky’s ge­nius was recog­nised in his life­time and he was highly suc­cess­ful and cel­e­brated. Un­for­tu­nately, his short life was plagued with a deep de­pres­sion, feel­ings of worth­less­ness, cul­tural in­tol­er­ance of his ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and a very un­happy mar­riage. Some be­lieve his early death at age 53 may be at­trib­uted to suicide. Yet de­spite his de­mons, his mu­sic con­tains a mag­i­cal in­no­cence and joy that’s per­fectly ex­hib­ited in the beau­ti­ful Dance Of The Lit­tle Swans from Act 2 of Swan Lake, which I have ar­ranged and tran­scribed here.

The 1876 bal­let Swan Lake – adapted from tra­di­tional Rus­sian folk tales – tells the story of Princess Odette (in the lead bal­le­rina role) who has been trans­formed into a swan by a sorcerer with, as you’d prob­a­bly ex­pect, a deeply tragic ro­man­tic con­clu­sion. The Dance Of The Lit­tle Swans (orig­i­nally ti­tled Danses de Petits Cygnes, Act 2 Mvt. No. 13). The mu­sic and chore­og­ra­phy work per­fectly to­gether; and the chore­og­ra­phy, which en­acts four swans in per­fect sync at­tempt­ing – and ul­ti­mately fail­ing – to fly, is as recog­nis­able and widely known as the mu­sic. There is an el­e­gant and mag­i­cal qual­ity to the mu­sic that is tes­ta­ment to Py­otr Tchaikovsky’s ge­nius, and ex­actly what I’ve tried to cap­ture here with this ar­range­ment.

To com­press this or­ches­tral set­ting down to solo gui­tar I’ve trans­posed it to Dm with drop D tun­ing, which al­lows the id­iomatic re­al­i­sa­tion on solo gui­tar of the main melodic and har­monic el­e­ments.

This piece needn’t be played par­tic­u­larly fast, but to main­tain its el­e­gance and magic may take some work. Both hands get a real work­out ne­go­ti­at­ing the sus­tained melody and in­ter­jected (some­times stac­cato) chords, so look at the tab cap­tions to get you through any chal­lenges. Once learnt, make ac­cu­racy and ex­pres­sion your per­for­mance goals.

There is an el­e­gant and mag­i­cal qual­ity TO The mu­sic; ex­actly what i’ve tried TO cap­ture in this ar­range­ment

NEXT MONTH Bridget ar­ranges and tran­scribes the Aria from Ri­naldo by Ge­orge Han­del

Py­otr Tchaikovsky: another trou­bled musical ge­nius

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