The ‘luscious roar’ of guitars: ‘Triangle Rhysing’ coming to Motorco

Aug. 21, 2013 @ 08:45 AM

Motorco Music Hall will vibrate with sound Saturday when 60 electric guitarists, two drummers, two cellists and three vocalists perform the composition “Triangle Rhysing: Music for Massed Guitars III.”

The audience should come expecting to hear a different kind of sound from the guitar, said Andras Fekete, who with Matt Guess composed and will conduct the composition.
“I think what we’ve stumbled upon is another way to look at the guitar as a sound-generating instrument,” Fekete said.
Saturday will mark the third year “Massed Guitars” has been performed, and the first time in Durham. The composition was performed in 2011 and 2012 in Chapel Hill. The composition stems from a project in which the composers used six guitars on stage to create what Fekete called a “wall of noise.”
“We thought, ‘How can we take the same concept and add some structure to it?’” he said. He and Guess came up with a four-movement piece that adds structure but still keeps the energy of a roomful of guitars making sound, and an improvisational element. “We still love the idea of chance,” Fekete said.
At Motorco, the audience will sit in the center of the hall. The guitarists will be divided into groups, facing the audience from different sides of the space. The drummers, vocalists and cellists will play from the stage. Guess and Fekete will conduct the musicians, using a prepared set of hand signals to indicate certain types of sounds. Fekete compares the process to “being a caller in a square dance where the caller announces the next move … except that we have four square dances going on at the same time.”
Fekete and Guess are both guitarists, composers and conductors. Fekete leads the ensemble Boat Burning, and Guess performs with the groups The White Cascade and Jazz Tapes.
The spelling of “Rhysing” is a reference to Rhys Chatham, an American composer who lives in France and whose compositions frequently use electric guitars.
Each movement of “Music for Massed Guitars” has a different mood, a different approach to sound, Fekete said. Sometimes, the emphasis is on timbre alone. Each guitarist has a small amplifier, and the composers asked that the amps come without distortion devices to give a cleaner sound. When you hear a roomful of guitarists playing under those strictures, “you would not believe the luscious roar that you get,” Fekete said.
The first “Triangle Rhysing” performance had 22 guitarists. Last year, about 36 guitarists performed. When he put out the call in May, Fekete said he had to turn away possible participants because of the size of the hall. He and Guess plan to double the number of guitarists each year, and will be looking for a bigger indoor venue in 2014.
The growth of this project has been “a Triangle-based, organic thing … all by word of mouth,” Fekete said. “There’s a lot of interconnectivity. [It] unites the different segments of the Triangle music scene – geographically, by genre and by age group.”


WHAT: “Triangle Rhysing: Music for Massed Guitars III”

WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham

ADMISSION: Tickets are $7 in advance, $8 day of show. For information, visit