May 28, 2015
The Phrygian Mode
This is almost too beautiful and delicate to share, given that that the internets do not take well to something that demands more than thirty seconds of your attention. Still, I need to bid you goodnight: if one hour is what it takes, well, indulge me.
Scarlatti was a perfect example of what being an european means: born in Italy, friends with Handel (who was born in Germany, but became English), life-long teacher of queen Maria Barbara of Spain (and daughter of king João V of Portugal), spent most of his life between Lisbon, Seville and Madrid and composed an astounding 555 single-movement sonatas, all meant as exercises for the queen, who became an extremely talented pianist, his pupil for more than 35 years.
Oh the title, right. “The Phrygian Mode” is a musical mode produced by raising the third scale degree of the mode, used mostly in Iberian and Arabic music (by way of maqām Ḥijāzī) and usually foreign to the music of time, including Bach (of whom Scarlatti was a contemporary). In simpler terms, you can sometimes detect whiffs of flamenco guitar chords but played on the piano.