Of Note: Duo Noire Expands the Classical Guitar Sound with Night Triptych

Sep 6, 2018

For guitarists Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett, who perform as Duo Noire, discovering that a major calssical guitar showcase held in the 21st century included no women composers and few, if any, women performers came as a shock. Then an epiphany.

Credit Duo Noire

"I was just so blown away that that was still happening in 2015," Flippin says. "This is ridicuoulous."

The results of their epiphany resonate in the duo's arresting debut, Night Triptych, a project that commissioned works for guitar duet from six contemporary female composers. The diverse perspectives and musical styles featured gives the album, in the duo's own words, a distinctly millenial voice. 

Unconventional approaches abound. One piece by Clarice Assad, the first composer they approached for the project, includes a section where Flippin and Mallett trade off improvising on wooden spoons.

"We gave her some free reign to say 'you can just be a little weird,'" Flippin says. "That actually ended up being one of the most magical moments on the album."

Both guitarists see a need for representation in their field and hope Night Triptych conveys the value of diverse perspectives. 

"When people have been hearing this...they [don't] think of it as just classical guitar or classical music," Mallett says. "It's something that they're really relating to."  

Listen to the full interview in the streaming link above.