“Choro is an instrumental Brazilian popular music genre which originated in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. Despite its name, the music often has a fast and happy rhythm. It is characterized by virtuosity, improvisation and subtle modulations, and is full of syncopation and counterpoint.”
Another description I found:
“It is a complex popular musical form based on improvisation, and like New Orleans jazz, blues, or ragtime, grew from a formalized musical structure and many worldly influences.”
Many Choros to me actually do sound a little like ragtimes. But I am by no means whatsoever a Choro expert. I just always liked to play brazilian music on guitar and writing a Choro seemed a step up from a bossa or a samba. In that sense the pieces here are more like classical music rather than jazz tunes to be soloed over.
The first of these Choros was “Choro el Ninja” and it popped out in 2005. In many ways it is one of my favorites of the bunch which is why it was recorded on my CD Peter’s Money in 2009. While I was composing more music than ever before since then, every few months a new Choro arrived. Usually just a small melodic idea, which got expanded, transposed, taken to relative major or minor – one could say a lot of hot air.
Once I had a few of these and tried to actually play them I realized that this was excellent practice material – for sight-reading and fingering. Some of these I arranged for solo classical guitar but they are really hard to play and might get some thinning out when I have the chance. These 19 Choros represent a certain time period in my writing. I have since then tried to write more in that style but nothing presentable came out of it.
Choros is now available here. It contains all 19 Choros in standard notation and TAB.
A word about the titles:
I don’t speak Portuguese (I sometimes look up translations of English titles into Portuguese and use these if they sound interesting). Most of the titles reflect more me playing around with words, than expressing any important insights. Although, some of the Choros are named like pizzas on the menu of a pizzeria in Germany (..al Forno, Picante, Margarita, etc.)
From my earliest days as a guitarist I have been a fan of acoustic guitars and John McLaughlin. When he released the first string of Indian influenced acoustic LPs with Shakti in the 1970’s, it immediately spoke to me. With my rather limited technique I tried to improvise in that style. Over the years I collected various transcriptions of Shakti material, some done by friends some by myself. Obviously I was never able to play these along with the records, but they made excellent practice. These pieces have always been part of my practice schedule.
Fast forward to Summer of 2015, when my wife dragged the family to a conference of improvised music in Switzerland. This was not improvised music as in Jazz, but improvising with a bunch of people with little or no agreed upon parameters. Often more rewarding for the players than the listeners. One of the evening concerts was by a trio which included Swiss guitarist Christy Doran. This guy had been an early influence on me before even John McLaughlin – and I had all but forgotten. After returning to the US, I checked out his music on the web. While their set at the conference didn’t resonate as much with me, Christy’s own contemporary recordings really impressed me and I could easily see the connection to the band I originally heard him with in the 1970s, OM.