May it be geographical factors or the cultural factors; Hong Kong's audience seems to have a relatively less exposure to music created by artists in South America. On November 9, 2007, Tom Lee Music invited Brazilian guitarist Rafael Bittencourt, front man of progressive metal act Angra to present a thought-provoking and musical workshop "Yamaha Guitar Clinic" at the Tom Lee Academy Hall, Kowloon Bay.
Born in Brazil, Rafael Bittoncourt graduated as a conductor and composer at the Santa Marcelina School of Art in Sao Paulo. Immediately after graduation, he formed a professional band. In 2007, Angra completes more than 15 years on the road. The Band's studio albums like¡mAngels Cry¡n,¡mRebirth¡ncreated have received positive feedback from fans all around the world. In Japan,¡mAngels Cry¡n's sales hit platinum in 1992, confirming the band's recognition and popularity in Asia. Apart from television appearances in Brazil, the band held over 100 concerts and toured around in Europe. Celebrating the introduction of Rafael's Signature guitar "The Dragon" by Yamaha, a commemorative concert was held in August 2007 in Brazil.
Half of the clinic's program was devoted to song demonstration, many of which were Angra's best-known, representative tracks such as "Heroes of Sand" and "The Voice Commanding You" from Angra's latest album¡mAurora Consurgens¡n. With the excitement of speed metal and igniting chord changes of progressive music, Rafael made the most of that guitar's beastie-sounding tones, with glottal stops and throaty cries, lifting the house's atmosphere to climax. His ability to tap on the fret-board, which is embedded with speed, precision and influences drawn from classical music were some of the attributes that made Rafael's live performance steely and emphatic.
As a co-founder of Angra, Rafael finds the knowledge acquired from the university allows him to infuse elements of classical music, particularly the structure and form, into his musical creations. To further demonstrate, he analyzed an unpublished instrumental track called "Comendo a Melancia", with the audience. "Comendo a Melancia means eating watermelon in Portuguese," explained Rafael. "Although the title is not so serious, this is a song that features the application of synesthesis, a way that people relate and link their perceptions of two different senses." The six-string player believes that many artist and musicians have such ability, and this is an aspect that should be developed.
To Rafael, an A major chord is red, while a G major chord is green. Likewise, an A minor seventh chord is red, with a little bit of green. "Similar to music, watermelon is a fruit that you would share and eat with your friends. And it's a heavy fruit, that's why I created a heavy groove for the song. For the tiny seeds, I'm using harmonics to represent them." Breaking the barriers between contemporary Brazilian music and today's progressive rock, the syncopated Brazilian rhythms and groove that tightly intertwined with the melody of this song is fresh and stylistic.
In response to one of the audience's enquiry, Rafael shared his unique view on music. "When we learn music, we should not be restricted to an instrument, nor focused on practicing your fingerings. Musicians should build their own way of perceiving things." Rafael's scholastic ability to analyze guitar playing and systematic way to present his thoughts has impressed the audience, leading to a smooth and constructive Q&A conversation.