Interview with Fabiano Borges (December 2017)
When did you start playing the guitar and why?
I started playing around 12 years old, but before that I was interested in drawing, capoeira and so on. In fact, art has always been a fountain of inspiration for me, and music was the main field. Since my childhood, I have been interested in different kind of music. I remember that the movie Crossroads (1986), in which Steve Vai appears in a guitar duo, has clearly contributed to this. I have watched this movie many times and I enjoyed the fact the movie mixed both classical and popular music.
What did you study and what is your musical background?
In my homeland (Brasilia), choro music is pretty common among musicians. It is worth mentioning that choro roots can be traced back to the 19th century and it retains some musical forms which come from the European dances, whose genre retains improvisation elements. By the way, there are some musicians who compare choro with jazz. However, it requires a long digression in order to discuss properly that relation. As a result, I consider choro music as my musical background because I have played it since I was a teenager. It was natural that choro ended up becoming the main topic of my master’s degree in music (2006-2008) at the University of Brasilia. On the other hand, the classical studies has come in parallel, since I was a teenager as well. I have attend masterclasses and several courses since 1999, especially during the summer at the music school here in Brasilia. During those courses, I have had the opportunity to share experiences with different musicians, which came from all over the world.
What were and are your main musical influences?
I am always interested in different genres and music styles. In popular music, such as Latin American guitar and flamenco, I like the way of playing of Raphael Rabello, Baden Powell, Cacho Tirao, Raúl García Zárate, Vicente Amigo, Paco de Lucía and so on. In classical guitar, I always listened to Andrés Segovia, John Williams and so on. By the way, they are still musical influences for me. Considering composers, I am always interested in listening to Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Agustín Barrios, Joaquín Rodrigo, Astor Piazzolla, Tom Jobim, Baden Powell, Luiz Bonfá, Bill Evans, and so on.
How did start the idea to release your double cd “Latinoamérica”?
It started around 2008. Initially, my first stay in Peru in 2006 strongly contributed to this. I have stayed in touch with different musicians in Peru. Since then I have participated in different festivals, considering the Latin American music. As I inserted Latin American arrangements in my concerts, I decided to write own music influenced by this repertoire. Therefore, “Latinoamérica” was an album that can be considered as a consequence of my musical interests in that period. That is the reason why it includes my own compositions and diversified arrangements. For this album, I have recorded pieces for solo guitar, but it also includes different instrumentation, such as guitar duo, guitar quartet, trio (harmonica, 7-string guitar and bass clarinet), duo (7-string guitar and violin), etc. Among the composers in this album, there are contemporary composers in activity as Franz Castillo (Colombia), Mario Zedog and Mario Orozco (Peru), Egberto Gismonti, Ricardo Tacuchian and Rogério Caetano (Brazil). I have also recorded composers who were born in the nineteenth centuty, such as Ernesto Nazareth (Brazil) and Andrés Chazarreta (Argentina), and so on.
What guitar do you play and have you played before?
I have been playing with a seven-string guitar made by Jorge Raphael since 2009. It is a traditional guitar made of spruce and Brazilian Rosewood, and now I have two seven-string guitars made by him. He is a Brazilian luthier who lives in Viçosa.
How do you express your “musical form” both under execution that improvisation? How did your instruments changed the way you play and think about music?
Considering tonal music, I think in the same way. When I have the sheet music in hands, I study the music before grabbing my guitar. I take advantage of it when I am travelling or having something that does not allow me to play. I think it is essential to write a new music or even an arrangement. Nonetheless, improvisation has it own vocabulary and we need to dig on it. There is a connexion which ties up the composition, execution and improvisation, but it is tough to get it naturally. We need to practice it.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
I also studied jazz and its own way to improvise, but improvisation is not only jazz elements in my point of view. I have played with Maria Inês Guimarães, a Brazilian pianist who lives in Paris. She improvises in a different language. Her arrangements tends to be more classical, but it also has a strong connection with choro music. I think that jazz vocabulary is important to expand our perception, but it is not the only way to improvise. Even popular musicians in Latin America have their own way to improvise and not always linked to jazz elements.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
As we know, art has always played an important role in the society. Hence, some political involvement of an artist is pretty common. However, political activism is not appropriate for everyone. We live in a turbulent moment and our perception of the world can be changed drastically.
What are your essential five discs, always to have with you .. the classic five records for the desert island ..?
Vivencias Imaginadas (Vicente Amigo), Alma (Ebgerto Gismonti), Bach – The Sonata & Partitas for unaccompanied violin (arr. Paul Galbraith), Classics of the Americas – Agustín Barrios (Jesús Castro Balbi – guitar) and Division Bell (Pink Floyd).
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I intend to record a new album with my seven-string guitar again, considering different instrumentation as I did in the album Latinoamérica. Apart from the works regarding the acoustic guitar, I have been working on a project called “Country Guitar Br”, whose album has just released in São Paulo. Guto Vighi is the producer and he has his own connections in this market different from classical guitar. This new project includes several composers dedicated to country on the electric guitar in Brazil. By the way, this is the first album dedicated entirely to instrumental country in Brazil. Indeed, it demands a lot of energy, but I enjoyed it very much. I confess it was challeging, above all the fact that I need to keep two different techniques.