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Egberto Gismonti


Egberto Gismonti was born in 1947 in Carmo, Brazil. He began his formal music studies at the age of six. After studying classical piano for 15 years, he went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger (orchestration and analysis), and composer Jean Barraqué, a disciple of Schönberg and Webern.

Returning to Brazil, Gismonti began to glimpse a reality broader than that of classical music alone. He was attracted by Ravel's ideas of orchestration and chord voicings, as well as by choro, a Brazilian popular instrumental genre where varied kinds of guitars, reeds and percussion are featured. To play this music he made the transition from piano to guitar, beginning on the 6-string classical guitar and switching to the 8-string guitar in 1973. He spent two years experimenting with different tunings and searching for new sounds, which is also reflected in his use of flutes, kalimbas, sho, voice, bells, etc. By the early '70s, he had laid the groundwork for his current conception and was listening to musicians as wide-ranging as Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix. For him, Hendrix's achievements were proof that “popular” and “serious” idioms need not remain opposite poles: “There's no difference between the two kinds of music...”

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