Sonata for Contrabass and Piano, D & C tuning, 1 part

2 scores and 1 part (both tunings for piano)

I. Conversations

II. Sing Softly in the Cathedral

III. Dance Contra

The Sonata for Contrabass and Piano, commissioned by Paul Sharpe, was awarded the Grand Prize in the Solo Division of the 2008 International Society of Bassists Composition Contest.  My harmonic language is often predicated on a hierarchical intervallic structuring from the bass up to various sonoric members.  This work is somewhat unique in its compositional challenges because the melodic line is often the contrabass line, though I often have it quite high so that I can underlay it with my harmonic structures.  In the first movement, Conversations, a piano introduction sets up a prevailing G#/D relationship harmonically.  The overall form is ABA. A locrian melody is the highlight of the A section and its form is also a-b-a, a form within a form and a common structural device in my music.  A chordal transition follows, an obscure passage that is left behind until becoming a structural part of movement III.  The formal B section begins, now truly “conversational,” with my ideas of a casual to intense conversation, say, in an out of the way cafe.  It is separate, flowing, motivic, insistent, nonchalant, colorful—all things that might describe a widely varying conversation, yet the musical language is always consistent.  Notice that it seems sometimes the conversation is not on the same page in terms of the subject matter at hand—not unlike real life sometimes!  An abbreviated recapitulation follows.  There is a short coda that concludes the movement.  The second movement is also an ABA formal arrangement.  It is titled Sing Softly in the Cathedral and is a lyrical song.  The last movement is subtitled Dance Contra.  It may seem to be a play on the words contra-dance and obviously the contrabass, but has nothing to do with the folk style of line dancing from various cultures.  I thought of it more as a dance “below,” emphasizing both a rhythmic component and a darkness component that has a certain daemonic quality, especially in the 10/16 section.  It opens with a dramatic cadenza. It uses the chordal material from the first movement as a transition to an. alternation of two sections in the middle of the movement—the “daemonic” 10/16 section and the chordal section with melodic material in the piano and in tremolo passagework in the contrabass. The cadenza returns in a highly abbreviated fashion leading to a short coda to complete the work.

Duration: ca. 17'

Difficulty: Virtuosic

Sonata for Contrabass and Piano, D & C tuning, 1 part
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  • Item #: CSM57016C
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