Double Bass Solo – Insentience

November 5th, 2011

When working with very low sounds, I enjoy keeping the same amount of tension in the texture that I’m accustomed to using by implementing dissonant intervals that are more widely spaced. Insentience is a difficult double bass solo for this reason; keeping the various intervals in tune while using the entire range of the bass is its primary challenge. Once learned, however, the various sounds can be executed without much physical difficulty so that the performer can focus on musical interpretation. In addition to this rewarding feature, there is also a variety of extended techniques including multiple idiomatic double stops, slow portamenti, left and right hand pizzicati, ricochet, natural harmonics, and lush combinations of all these techniques simultaneously. Advanced student performers interested in coming outside the box will be intrigued with the pleasing yet atypical sounds that come out of their bass.

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Sample Score

Additional information

Duration 5:00

Suffering is the indirect result of desire. We want something, we don’t get it, and then we’re unhappy. When a person has reasonable desires that aren’t being fulfilled, they are dissatisfied with life and have a difficult time being content. In order to become happy a person must either take steps to satisfy their desires, or stop desiring. There are times when a person has a lot of bad luck and cannot fulfill even their basic human needs despite how hard they’ve tried. Since they cannot fulfill their desire, one might think that the answer to all of their problems is to stop desiring.

The problem with this is that when one stops desiring, they die. Their heart is still beating, but it gives no life to their spirit. Hunger is good because it drives the worker forward. If he stops wanting food, his role as a human being is nullified because his hunger causes him to do things that are natural to human beings. An even better example is love. When I met Liz (my wife) and got to know her for a while, I developed a desire to start a romantic relationship with her. I’d never been the type of guy that enjoyed asking a girl to go on a date, but my desire for her overcame my fear of failure. Had I decided that it was too hard to win her and killed the desire instead of pursuing it, the life-giving and healthy relationship that has come out of those early efforts would never have come about. Killing desire instead of taking persistent steps to fulfill it is not the behavior of a healthy human being and a human being’s spirit will eventually die along with desire. Desire makes us alive.

Not all desires can coexist. Again, the heart cannot cease its longing, or it will die. Therefore, desire must be channeled into something or someone that can conquer our heart and leave nothing behind. Liz can’t do this for me. Money can’t do it. Fame can’t do it. The only thing in the universe that can is Christ. Therefore, we must set our desire solely on Him if we want to truly be happy. Then we will be filled.


Timpani and Piano – Application

November 4th, 2011

In this timpani and piano duet the timpani player is required to play quickly and quietly, change the tuning of the timpani while playing, and listen carefully through the sound of the timpani to hear the piano’s pulse. This piece can be quite difficult to play at the prescribed tempo, but it still sounds great when it is played slower than marked. Doing this can make it easier on both the timpani player and even some audiences. A danger to watch for is that the piano can be easily overpowered by the timpani in dark or very wet halls. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to make sure the piano is always heard clearly. This can be achieved by performing in a bright or less resonate hall, using a brighter piano such as a Yamaha, or by slightly muffling the timpani as a last resort. Artificial amplification might work, but the placement of the sound source for the piano has to be in a location that enables it to mix with the sound of the timpani on the stage.

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Preview Score

My friend, Amy, premiered this timpani and piano duet with the man she eventually married at the University of Illinois during her undergrad senior recital. She is an extremely talented performer and a passionate music educator. She asked me to write this piece specifically for her recital, and I accepted with eventual enthusiasm. I took the assignment as an opportunity to test my abilities after writing Transition and The Dark Process as well as to get my foot in the door for graduate school at the university; not to mention doing a favor for an old friend. After it was premiered I spoke with the department chair of percussion, and he said that he would put a good word in for me in the composition department. I have since been rejected for graduate studies at the University of Illinois and have finished a master’s at Michigan State University.

Below is an actual performance of the timpani and piano duet. Not the best recording, but it is a fantastic performance and will give you an idea of what it would be like to actually play it.

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