An Angel Moves Too Fast to See by Rhys Chatham, Table Of The Elements, 2006


A work for 100 electric guitars. Not bad, am I right? Try to imagine the sound, beautiful, massive, and at the same time cheerful, playful, immediate. The idea for this music made by Rhys Chatham in 1989 was to involve the guitarists by offering them the opportunity to perform with an orchestra, most of who plays the electric guitar often doesn’t have the same approach to orchestral who may have classical musicians, hence the clever idea to exploit this “lack of aesthetic” seizing the opportunity to explore new styles.

A curiosity: the scores of this work are conventional and include the same pitch for all instruments involved, the use of a particular modal tuning the guitar is not due so much to the desire to disrupt the system of intonation of the instrument, but is a means of avoiding the personal experience of the musicians doing in a way that each of them can move from the same technically starting point, once you learn the fingerings necessary to perform the piece.
“An Angel Moves Too Fast To See” consists of six movements, each of them provides profoundly different executive styles. The impression is that of a monolithic sonic work with the guitars chasing and colliding with each other and an impressive wall of sound, with the guitarists that enjoy themselves a lot!
As the same Chatham says, “the musicians involved can accumulate new experience like playing alongside an orchestra, compared themselves with other guitarists and also learn variety of guitar techniques that they can use for their work. During rehearsals we become like a sort of small community and every time you prepare the work together it’s like we have created a new group. When I played in Lisbon, guitarist Rafael Toral met his future wife in teh orchestra! Now they have a beautiful baby and, in a sense, I feel a bit as his godfather … “