I began what I regard as the ‘Bosman project’ three years ago when Lance approached me to run through his collection of compositions called ‘Perspectives for Guitar’. I was immediately struck by the variety of his pieces and in particular the individual harmonies – exotic, mellow, piquant, jazz-tinged. Ranging afield in style, certain numbers are depictive, sounding of far-away places, others dreamy and others still represent more oblique tangents of the contemporary repertoire. From the very moment I read the first of the ‘11 Miniatures’ I decided to spread the news about this guy. So, here on my webpage you can listen via links to individual tracts or choose a complete playlist. For further observations on these compositions, please refer to the introduction of the notated music by clicking this link (pdf).

Some thoughts about Lance Bosman’s ‘Perspectives for Guitar’.

    I would divide this collection into the following three categories: miniatures, jazz influenced pieces and those representing early modernism. Even so, it is still hard to associate them with a specific ‘ism’ other than perhaps ‘Bosmanism’. Working through and recording these compositions was most rewarding, not least since each one of them is self-contained and endowed with its own character.  Selecting from twenty-two pieces in all, ‘A Portrait of Two Scallywags’ is decidedly sharp-edged – even cunning – and certainly playful. Then there is ‘Zonus’ that stands out through its shifts of agitation and reflection, whereas ‘False Relations’ could well soundtrack a turbulent marriage with perhaps ‘A Prelude’ to ignite the conflicting couple.

As regards the  ‘11 Miniatures’ in this album, being undemanding in the main and each contained to a page or two, they would make worthy additions to the study repertoire. There was a time when Leo Brouwer’s ‘Estudios Sencillos’ (1972, 1983, 2001) were favoured. But many new arrivals have since circulated (the most recent one probably being Simone Iannarelli’s ‘10 Miniatures’ (2020) and  I would certainly also suggest Bosman’s ‘11 Miniatures’ to be included in teaching programmes.  I recommend these not least for the manner with which the composer manages to present technical challenges enlivened by musical interest. Miniatures nos. 6 and 10 are particularly striking for their glimmering after-rings produced by cross-stringing, the so-called  campanellas. Then again, nos. 1 and 8 invite melodic projections from their harmonies.

    After playing through Bosman’s collection it became evident to me that jazz has a special place in his heart. When moving to larger-scale pieces, ‘Savanna’ might well stir in mind visions of distant landscapes whereas ‘A Jazz Fantasie’ dwells in a sphere of its own, while again ‘Changes’ could easily be a lost work of a jazz veteran. Within all these three pieces we notice an experimentalist tempting the player to sample novel harmonies. Although Bosman calls on major-minor 7ths and other standard chords from time to time, they are not applied in familiar ways. Far from routine changes, however, many of his harmonies have according to his own words ‘arisen through exploration’.

With first-hand knowledge of the fingerboard, Bosman’s command of blending melodies, counterpoints and harmonies reveals a multi-faceted approach to composition for guitar. That said, this could be at the expense of sustaining the melody. But then I have found that this is not  unusual in guitar music. Given that the instrument has both a melodic and harmonic dimension, the challenge lies in serving both masters. Needless to say, when the hands are engaged in harmonizing, fewer opportunities are there to accommodate a melodic line. In response to this, here is Bosman: ‘thinking back I see these pieces as being melodically led in the main. Where harmonies take over they less so intrude, but rather provide passing backdrops for the melody as chordal lights and shades. Broadly viewed my aim in most cases has been to follow that old and natural inclination of shaping compositions with catchy beginnings, centre sweeps and then perhaps a recall, to ultimately wind up with a pitch peak and brief return to the opening’.

For me, Bosman’s complete guitar works (1970-2013) are one of the most interesting additions to contemporary guitar repertoire. As noted above, he composes with a thorough understanding of the instrument, diving into a pool of various musical flavours and mixing all this with stylistic imprints all his own.

Copyright 2021 Janne Malinen. All rights reserved.