Richard Egües and José Fajardo are universally regarded as the leading exponents of charanga flute playing, an improvisatory style that crystallized in 1950s Cuba with the rise of the mambo and the chachachá. Despite the commercial success of their recordings with Orquesta Aragón and Fajardo y sus Estrellas and their influence not only on Cuban flute players but also on other Latin dance musicians, no in-depth analytical study of their flute ...
Richard Egües and José Fajardo are universally regarded as the leading exponents of charanga flute playing, an improvisatory style that crystallized in 1950s Cuba with the rise of the mambo and the chachachá. Despite the commercial success of their recordings with Orquesta Aragón and Fajardo y sus Estrellas and their influence not only on Cuban flute players but also on other Latin dance musicians, no in-depth analytical study of their flute solos exists.
In Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation, Sue Miller—music historian, charanga flute player, and former student of Richard Egües—examines the early-twentieth-century decorative style of flute playing in the Cuban danzón and its links with the later soloistic style of the 1950s as exemplified by Fajardo and Egües. Transcriptions and analyses of recorded performances demonstrate the characteristic elements of the style as well as the styles of individual players. A combination of musicological analysis and ethnomusicological fieldwork reveals the polyrhythmic and melodic aspects of the Cuban flute style, with commentary from flutists Richard Egües, Joaquín Oliveros, Polo Tamayo, Eddy Zervigón, and other renowned players.
Miller also covers techniques for flutists seeking to learn the style—including altissimo fingerings for the Boehm flute and fingerings for the five-key charanga flute—as well as guidance on articulation, phrasing, repertoire, practicing improvisation, and working with recordings. Cuban Flute Style will appeal to those working in the fields of Cuban music, improvisation, music analysis, ethnomusicology, performance and performance practice, popular music, and cultural theory.
Sue Miller is a flute player and musical director of the United Kingdom’s only charanga orchestra, Charanga del Norte, which she founded in 1998. She holds a doctorate in flute improvisation in Cuban charanga performance from the University of Leeds and has studied charanga flute improvisation with Richard Egües. She has performed with veteran charanga musicians in Havana, such as Estrellas Cubanas, Charanga de Oro, Orquesta Sublime and Orquesta Barbarito Díez, and is a senior lecturer in music at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge (UK).
Since her iconic first novel, The Good Mother in 1986, Sue Miller has distinguished herself as one of our most elegant and widely celebrated chroniclers of family life, with a singular gift for laying bare the interior lives of her characters.
While not strictly speaking autobiographical, Miller's fiction is, nonetheless, shaped by her experiences. Born into an academic and ecclesiastical family, she grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park and went to college at Harvard. She was married at 20 and held down a series of odd jobs until her son Ben was born in 1968. She separated from her first husband in 1971, subsequently divorced, and for 13 years was a single parent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working in day care, taking in roomers, and writing whenever she could.
In these early years, Miller's productivity was directly proportional to her ability to win grants and fellowships. An endowment in 1979 allowed her to enroll in the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. A few of her stories were accepted for publication, and she began teaching in the Boston area. Two additional grants in the 1980s enabled her to concentrate on writing fulltime. Published in 1986, her first novel became an international bestseller.
Since then, success has followed success. Two of Miller's books (The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbots) have been made into feature films; her 1990 novel Family Pictures was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; Oprah Winfrey selected While I Was Gone for her popular Book Club; and in 2004, a first foray into nonfiction -- the poignant, intensely personal memoir The Story of My Father -- was widely praised for its narrative eloquence and character dramatization.
Miller is a distinguished practitioner of "domestic fiction," a time-honored genre stretching back to Jane Austen, Henry James, and Leo Tolstoy and honed to perfection by such modern literary luminaries as John Updike, Flannery O'Connor, and Richard Ford. A careful observer of quotidian detail, she stretches her novels across the canvas of home and hearth, creating extraordinary stories out of the quiet intimacies of marriage, family, and friendship. In an article written for the New York Times "Writers on Writing" series, she explains: "For me everyday life in the hands of a fine writer seems ... charged with meaning. When I write, I want to bring a sense of that charge, that meaning, to what may fairly be called the domestic."
Good To Know
Here are some fascinating outtakes from our interview with Sue Miller:
"I come from a long line of clergy. My father was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian church, though as I grew up, he was primarily an academic at several seminaries -- the University of Chicago, and then Princeton. Both my grandfathers were also ministers, and their fathers too. It goes back farther than that in a more sporadic way."
"I spent a year working as a cocktail waitress in a seedy bar just outside New Haven, Connecticut. Think high heels, mesh tights, and the concentrated smell of nicotine. Think of the possible connections of this fact to the first fact, above."
"I like northern California, where we've had a second home we're selling -- it's just too far away from Boston. I've had a garden there that has been a delight to create, as the plants are so different from those in New England, which is where I've done most of my gardening. I had to read up on them. I studied Italian gardens too -- the weather is very Mediterranean. I like weeding -- it's almost a form of meditation."
"I like little children. I loved working in daycare and talking to kids, learning how they form their ideas about the world's workings -- always intriguing, often funny. I try to have little children in my life, always."
"I want to make time to take piano lessons again. I did it for a while as an adult and enjoyed it.
"I like to cook and to have people over. I love talking with people over good food and wine. Conversation -- it's one of life's deepest pleasures."