Sequenza XI

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Sequenza XI for solo guitar (1987–1988) is one of a series of Sequenzas by Luciano Berio. Written for the American guitarist Eliot Fisk, it is an innovative investigation into the dramatic and virtuosic possibilities of musical performance.


The work carries a simple form, with a dramatic multitextural section leading into a calm resolution (if such a thing exists in Berio's music) at the end. The guitar Sequenza is also one of the longest Sequenzas, the longest being Sequenza XII, the bassoon Sequenza. A variety of guitar techniques are explored in this piece including rasqueado (from the flamenco tradition), tremolo, glissando, harmonics, tambour (percussive effects). In terms of harmony, the work is based on the guitar's characteristic harmony/tuning, i.e., the interval of a perfect fourth. Set class 6-7 also underlies most of the linear material.[citation needed]

The composition is in four large sections, and sets out from the six pitches of the open strings of the guitar. The composer asserted that two intervals are important elements in the work: the perfect fourth (which is the interval found between most neighbouring pairs of the guitar's strings) and the tritone, which is used to leads to a different harmony of Berio's devising (Porcaro 2007, 258–59)


Sequenza XI is a standard work for guitarists who have chosen avant-garde modern classical music as a part of their repertoire, e.g., Denis Sung-Hô (Sequenza's performance with members of the Ensemble InterContemporain), Stefan Östersjö, Todd Seelye, Mats Scheidegger, Geoffrey Morris, Pablo Gómez, Pablo Márquez, Alan Thomas, Jürgen Ruck, Nico Couck, etc.: it has been recorded numerous times (see below).

Chemins V by Berio is a work by Berio based on Sequenza XI, for guitar and ensemble.


  • Porcaro, Mark D. 2007. "A Polyphonic Type of Listening in and out of Focus: Berio’s Sequenza XI for Guitar". In Berio's Sequenzas: Essays on Performance, Composition, and Analysis, edited by Janet K. Halfyard, 255–74. Aldershot (Hants.); Burlington (VT): Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-5445-2.

External links[edit]

Sequenza XI performances (mp3, etc.)[edit]

Sequenza XI recordings[edit]