Mysterious Habitats

Mysterious Habitats
Maker/Manufacturer: BOGDANOVIC, DUSAN

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In an introduction to one of his books, Jorge Luis Borges mentions that it is impossible to talk about only one particular thing; the whole universe is immediately brought along with it. For me, this sentiment very accurately describes the paradoxical nature of composition; each piece of music evokes the whole world as I experience it, yet each brings to it a unique perspective.

The world in which we live is built of many interlocked times; we are, equally, of a multitude of coexisting realities. So is the music on this recording. There are the improvisatory, Haiku-like moment-realities of Little Secrets; the static Taoism-inspired Passacaglia for the Golden Flower; the dynamic, anguished architecture of the 2nd Sonata; the Escher-like twisted logic of Reversible Cowboy.

If, vertically, every piece recognizes history from a different angle, horizontally, it claims a different musical neighborhood for its source; Omar's Fancy, the Middle-East; Jazz Sonatina, as the title suggests; Hommage a J. Tati, African 12/8 and 2/3 polyrhythm.

Today, when we are confronted with both tribalism and total abstraction, extreme simplicity as well as complexity, I believe it is possible to create art which speaks on a gut level, and yet is built with much refinement and complexity of structure and language. I do not see why one must rely only on the caricature of the human, instead of on the full potential.

If the diversity of my music relies on the coexistence of musical worlds, the coherence is achieved primarily through the use of motivic transformational processes within clearly defined systems. In this way, a multi-perspectival, yet conceptually unified and historically grounded musical universe is acknowledged.

The diverse compositional processes also define different modalities of consciousness; every piece is a mini-world, following axioms of its own existence, indirectly reflecting a particular integration of the levels of being. I can only hope to have been an accurate translator.


When I came to this country in the early eighties, I had a somewhat romantic vision of an artistically open milieu, where one could adventurously cross the borders between musical styles and genres. Fifteen years later, I am painfully aware of the stifling and fragmenting influence of both "this business of music" and institutions; still, my commitment to this kind of vision has not changed essentially.

Jazz Sonatina, Mysterious Habitats, and Reversible Cowboy are all syntheses of American popular idioms (jazz, folk, country) with classical forms. Both he first and the third movements of Jazz Sonatina are based on a similar rhythmic pattern in 12/8 (2+2+3+2+3) and display a wide variety of meters, influenced by my frequent use of African and Balkan irregular figures. The development is based on transformation of interrelated motifs; and the harmonic language, primarily on modality and pentatonicism. Besides the usual golpe and other percussive effects, I have experimented in this piece with use of prolonged slurs more typical of the electric guitar technique.

Mysterious Habitats, on the other hand, was inspired by a miniature masterpiece by Couperin entitled Les Baricades Mysterieuses; Both compositions are based on similarly propulsive interlocked patterns.

Omar's Fancy and Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue 'for the Golden Flower' are all strongly influenced by the Levantine and Indian ethnic musics. The tempo indication of the Fancy, "Adagio appassionato e molt ruba'iyato" refers to the famous collection of ruba'iyat (two-line stanzas) by the Persian poet Omar Khayyam. The piece is in a free theme and variation form, using improvised, melismatic lines, not unlike those played on Middle-Eastern plucked instruments, such as Ottoman tanbur or Arabic oud. The third variation uses various percussive techniques to build an imitation-based, ricercar-like form. The harmony is based on Middle-Eastern modes, but uses Western devices such as modulation through pivot zones and chords.

My Keen interest in rhythm has led me to write a series of studies that explore superposition of diverse meters: 3/4 and 6/8 in Study #2; 12/8 and 3/2 in Study #3; 1/4 and 5/16 in Study #5; 3/16 and 2/4 in Study #1. The two melancholy pieces (Hommage a F. Mompou, and Harlequin's Ballad) are matched by two quirky dances, Reversible Cowboy and Hommage a J. Tati, dedicated to the late French comedian, the creator of "Les Vancances de Mr. Hudot."

The Taoist concept (from Hui Ming Ching) of an effortless, natural way of being was the principle for the formal development of Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue 'for the Golden Flower'. True enough, the very first pages of the piece occurred as if by a miracle, but then it took some three months to complete the whole composition. The fugue, which, as the other two movements, is a synthesis of Indian and Balkan languages with Baroque form, has an especially intricate development; from the middle of the piece to the end, all the entrances of the theme are inverted to create a mirror-like structure. I thought it a good sign when my father told me the music brought an image of "a field of flowers."

It seems to me that much of the music history oscillates between various degrees of folk element stylization (from Haydn to Bartok; from Robert Johnson to Charlie Mingus). Proclaimed "the work of a madman" (by Teja Bell, who engineered this recording), the 2nd Sonata is a highly stylized and structured composition with interrelated themes primarily based on the Balkan melodic and rhythmic vocabulary. The harmony of this piece stretches from modal, polymodal, extended tonal to atonal systems, integrated with elaborate and highly charged counterpoint. The final coda brings themes together in a violent ricercar-like ending. For many years my friend Steve Freedman not only reused to believe that I was capable of playing this piece, but that I have ever actually completed it. I think this recording finally settles the matter.

Fairytale with Variations is dedicated to my mother, who passed away last year, in 1994. Faced with the irreconcilable, I chose this simple piece as a memory guardian of the lost world of childhood.

To me, composition is usually a process of integration; Seven Little Secrets were, however, completely accidental in conception, unambitious and effortless in appearance. Emerging from the architecture of our lives, these Secrets may be glimpses of an underlying reality, and their simple forms, the only ones with which they can speak.

The world? Moonlit
crops shaken
from the crane's bill



Mysterious Habitats are always present: they are houses of the spirit, makers along the way, each representing a particular gesture, feeling, or state of being. These offspring of what I call questionably "my life" have an existence of their own, and I hope this recording will be a way of communicating them to a larger whole. It may be that art is indeed one of the ways of making that whole come into being, a way of transcending our isolated and mortal existences, a way of acknowledging and creating a transparent human universe.

Dusan Bogdanovic
March, 1995 This recording is dedicated to the memory of my mother Nadezda Bogdanovic.

Special thanks to:
Sharon Wayne, for her love and support, Steve Freedman, for his friendship and helpful advice, Dean Kamei, for his faith and dedication to my music, and Don Oai and La Minh, for contributing their artistic mastery to this project.

produced by Dean Kamei

recorded by Teja Bell at Samurai Sound (Petaluma, CA)

mixed by John Strother
mix assisted by Rose Landauer at Penguin Recording (Eagle Rock, CA)

mastered by Dave Schultz at DigiPrep (Hollywood, CA)

photos by Don Oai and La Minh
graphics by GSP

all of the music on this CD are available in print from GSP

another Dusan Bogdanovic GSP recording is: Unconscious in Brazil (GSP1017)


A richly gifted composer, improviser and guitarist, Dusan Bogdanovic has explored musical languages that are reflected in his style today- a unique synthesis of classical, jazz and ethnic music. As a soloist and in collaboration with other artists, Bogdanovic has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. His performing and recording activities include work with chamber groups of diverse stylistic orientations including The Falla Guitar Trio and jazz collaborations with James Newton, Milcho Leviev, Charlie Haden, Miroslav Tadic, Mark Nauseef, Anthony Cox and others. He has over fifty published compositions ranging from guitar and piano solo works to chamber and orchestral ensembles (Berben, GSP, Doberman-Yppan et al.), as well as close to twenty recordings ranging from Bach Trio Sonatas to contemporary works (Intuition, GSP, Doberman-Yppan, M.A. Recordings et al.).

Bogdanovic was born in Yugoslavia in 1955. He completed his studies of composition and orchestration at the Geneva Conservatory with Paul Wissmer and Alberto Ginastera and in guitar performance with M.L.São Marcos. Early in his career, he received the only First Prize at the Geneva Competition and gave a highly acclaimed debut recital in Carnegie Hall in 1977. After having taught at the Belgrade Academy and San Francisco Conservatory (1990-2007), he is presently engaged by the Geneva Conservatory.

Additional Information

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Maker / Manufacturer BOGDANOVIC, DUSAN
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Track 1 Mysterious Habitats 2:50
Track 2 Jazz Sonatina - 1) Allegro Grazioso 2:28
Track 3 Jazz Sonatina - 2) Adagio Espressivo 2:14
Track 4 Jazz Sonatina - 3) Allegro Molto 2:27
Track 5 Seven Little Secrets - No. 1 1:03
Track 6 Seven Little Secrets - No. 2 0:58
Track 7 Seven Little Secrets - No. 3 0:57
Track 8 Seven Little Secrets - No. 4 0:37
Track 9 Seven Little Secrets - No. 5 0:45
Track 10 Seven Little Secrets - No. 6 'Here The Moon' 2:25
Track 11 Seven Little Secrets - No. 7 0:40
Track 12 Omar's Fancy 4:04
Track 13 Easier Polymetric Studies - No. 5 'Harlequin's Ballad' 1:36
Track 14 Easier Polymetric Studies - No. 3 'Hommage a Jacques Tati' 1:02
Track 15 Easier Polymetric Studies - No. 1 'Reversible Cowboy' 1:08
Track 16 Easier Polymetric Studies - No. 2 'Hommage a F. Mompou' 1:17
Track 17 Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue - 1) Introduction 2:04
Track 18 Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue - 2) Passacaglia 5:04
Track 19 Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue - 3) Fugue 1:58
Track 20 Sonata No. 2 - 1) Allegro deciso e appassionato 3:11
Track 21 Sonata No. 2 - 2) Adagio molto espressivo, poco rubato 1:56
Track 22 Sonata No. 2 - 3) Scherzo malinconico, cantabile con delicatezza 2:36
Track 23 Sonata No. 2 - 4) Allegro ritmico 2:40


"A tour de force of odd-metered originals by one of the world's finest guitarist/composers. An amazing blend of classical, jazz, and Balkan influences." - Teja Gerken, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, 20th Anniversary Issue

"Bogdanovic could be responsible for a whole new awakening to the simplistic heart connection and personal quality of the guitar as a classical instrument. This album is pure perfection by an artist who deserves recognition. If you're tired of pretentious applications of the masters, here is a new treatment you should give a try." - Robert Ghost Wolf, NAPRA ReView

"...playing of great subtlety and beauty. Dusan Bogdanovic continues to prove himself to be one of the true originals of the guitar. His unique vision is born of his trans-Atlantic experiences seasoned with a complete mastery of ethnic folk, jazz and classical traditions, making this music rich in complexity and meaning. He has much to say, handling the large sonata structures as effortlessly as the slight miniature 'Secrets' and he does so with authority, wit and humor. To enter his world is to know delight, and this new collection is a veritable treasure chest, brimming with rare and exotic jewels: don't miss it. Highly Recommended." - John Schneider, Soundboard Magazine

"Bogdanovic's unique, gentle compositions intermingle jazz, ethnic music, and good old classical counterpoint in a technical rigor that often gives Brouwer a run for his money. Even at its most complicated, however, there is an unhurriedness to Bogdanovic's music. Easily his best collection yet, 'Mysterious Habitats', played by the composer, runs a wide sty" - Bill Ellis, American Record Guide

"Profoundly original, Dusanm's umsic is a curious alliance of classical, jazz, and ethnic music." - Jean-Christophe Hoarau, Les Cahiers de la Guitare

"Dusan Bogdanovic is an extremely gifted composer and musician. This reviewer sat enthralled by the diversity and majesty of his compositions. 'Mysterious Habitats' is a tour-de-force of his many talents... an album that is as fresh and innovative as it is classical." - Richard Fuller, Metaphysical Reviews


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