Guitarist Charlie Rauh, — featured in this week’s Saturday Soundtrack — grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and now lives in New York City. Rauh began playing clarinet and saxophone at age 13, and then began to learn the guitar. “Playing guitar really opened up a lot of creative momentum for me,” Rauh notes, “as I could play chords as well as melodies and form more developed ideas. I was (and still am) very influenced by Duke Ellington. I’d say that he and his music first inspired me to want to be a composer due to his wonderfully lyrical melodic sense intertwined with dense, idiosyncratic harmony.”
Rauh’s quiet but moving solo guitar work, inspired “from folk lullabies, plainchant, and the imagery of various poets ranging from the Brontës to Anna Akhmatova,” is a balm for the soul.
“Acoustic Guitar Magazine notes that ‘Charlie Rauh plays guitar with a quiet intensity, each note and chord ringing with purpose…With these lullabies Rauh gives a gentle reminder that playing soft and slow can be more impactful than loud and fast.'”
To demonstrate that soft and slow compositional style, this first video is of Rauh playing his original composition Arolen from the 2017 release Viriditas. For the guitar geeks reading, Rauh is playing a Waterloo WL-14. The song was named after the street Rauh grew up on in Huntsville and contains the melody from his first “song” written as a child.
Ethereal Lullabies is another gorgeous composition from Rauh, played on a small Collings guitar.
The Fretboard Journal posted a recent video of Rauh, and because this is the Fretboard Journal, they tell you more about the guitar than the composition. Both are lovely.
“The song is ‘Watch Through the Darkest Hours of Night,’ from the album ‘The Bluebell,’ on Destiny Records. The guitar is a custom Collings Parlor he recently acquired — it’s essentially a Parlor 1 T (Mahogany back and sides, Sitka spruce top), with a satin finish, no fretboard markers, ivoroid trim (bindings, tuners, bridge pins and logo) and no endpin.“
I’ll end this Soundtrack with two duets, the first an improvisation with Rauh and Mark Goldenberg where together they weave some beautiful strands of sound. The second is a special duo arrangement of Rauh’s song, Observer, with Eric Skye (previously featured on Saturday Soundtrack). The original solo version was recorded on Rauh’s album, Hiraeth. The two musicians — obvious aficionados of the luscious sounds they can coax from the small-bodied guitar — pair nicely on this tune.
Playing soft and slow is beautiful. Enjoy!
More to come…
Image: Charlie Rauh by Liz Maney (credit: PHOTOS — Charlie Rauh)