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An Investigation of Eastern Cultural Influences in the Classical Guitar Solo Repertoire.

Can Eastern cultures become a more integral part of the classical guitar’s cultural identity through repertoire influenced by these cultures? In this research exposition, I explore the ways in which cultural elements from Eastern cultures may inspire repertoire for the solo classical guitar. Through this repertoire, I shall examine how such cultural influences may promote Eastern cultures to performers and audiences of the classical guitar. In doing so, the cultural horizons of the classical guitar world may be broadened to represent a greater variety of cultures that also mirrors the growing global community of the classical guitar. In Part I, I look at some of the pre-existing works that have been influenced by Eastern cultures including works by Toru Takemitsu; arrangements of popular and folkloric music from Eastern cultures; and original compositions that have influences from Eastern cultures. Part II deals with the ethics of cultural inspiration and looks at questions like: “How can we represent cultures authentically through music?”, “Is cultural appropriation ok?”. Finally, Part III presents an overview of the new repertoire specifically written for this research. This comprises of two arrangements of songs attributed to the Bengali polymath, Rabindranath Tagore, as well as a commissioned work with an Eastern cultural influence composed by Italian composer and classical guitarist, Marco Ramelli. The findings of this research reveal the difficulty of assigning an objective answer to the issues surrounding cultural inspiration. I implore readers to approach this research with an open mind and hope that, at the very least, I can encourage the musical community to consider different types of questions concerning the use of cultural elements in art.

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