Hands of the Angels
a romantic tale of the Spanish guitar
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1. Hands of My Angel
2. Catalonian Reverie
3. Heart's Peace
4. Angelic Visit
5. Misty Soleares
6. Dream of Granada
7. Zambra Trance
8. Sakura Variations
In southern Spain, a few miles south of Granada, hidden in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, are the ruins of a centuries old monastery. Several years ago some quarry workers were gathering masonry stones from the site to be taken to a nearby building project.
One of the workers was loosening some stones from the base of the main fountain in the central courtyard. In a crack between two large stones he found a bundle, tightly wrapped in sheepskin, which, when opened revealed an hidden music manuscript.
Although some of the original manuscript has been destroyed, much, due to its protected location between the stones, has remained intact. After review by scholars, a remarkable story and treasury of music has come to light. The anonymous writer of the manuscript was evidently a young monk who enjoyed playing his guitar in the free hours between his duties. He tells us:
“It was my habit to take my guitar to the fountain and sit facing the Sierra Nevada while quietly strumming and singing. One afternoon it got late and I was called to duty. Forgetting my guitar, I left it by the fountain. Just before sunset I went to retrieve it.
“To my surprise, as I approached the fountain, along with the sounds of twilight birds singing and the playful splash of the fountain waters, I heard a most exquisite guitar playing. Since all the monks were in the chapel for their evening prayers, I knew that whoever was playing was a stranger.
“Rather than disturb the mysterious guitarist, I decided to listen to his remarkable music from an archway on the far side of the courtyard. Enraptured by his music, I listened as if in a trance until the sun fully set and the stranger quietly left the monastery.
“I said nothing about this to my brethren, but returned the next afternoon to my hidden archway to see if he would come and play again. He returned and once again played a heavenly and inspired music.
“For the next week, every afternoon before sunset I returned to listen to the guitarist play, being careful not to disturb him, or to let him know that anyone was listening. My own inspiration was such that I was determined to chronicle his music using our tablature system of notation. Fortunately, since I was blessed with a very nimble ear, and could long remember anything I heard, I spent my evenings notating what I could of his playing.
“This went on for many weeks until something almost not to be spoken of occurred. He was playing as he did, beautifully improvising his melodies and strums along with the birds that would gather and sing by the fountain.
“Then I began to hear, very faintly at first, then more distinctly as he continued to play, delicate melodic echoes as if another guitarist had joined him. My curiosity impelled me to creep forward from my hiding place until I could actually see the fingers of his left hand gliding up and down the fret board of the guitar.
“What I saw next agitated me greatly, for descending along a shaft of golden light from the setting sun, was an angelic being of the purest beauty imaginable. Her white wings beat softly as she hovered above the fountain. She had beautiful dark hair and her lovely face was smiling as her delicate hands extended to the guitar. She then began to strum and play, making exquisite echoing melodies along with the guitarist’s own music.
“I was overcome with an indescribable emotion: the mysterious guitarist, the dancing waters of the fountain, the singing birds and now the angel visiting from above combined to give me countless nights of restless sleeplessness.
“After 12 months of visits, on the anniversary of his first visit, the mysterious guitarist and the angel disappeared, never to return. I have done my best to transcribe as much of the music as I could."
Music and Story copyright © 2009 Jeffrey Goodman. All rights reserved.