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Topic: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

  1. #1

    Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    The entire sonata is no online. I posted the entire sonata in little chunks top make downloading easier.

    The piano is the basic Garritan Authorized Steinway. I like the sound of it, but it's not an easy instrument to balance with others. I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I've had to create a number of extra articulations and expressions in Finale just to let me get a bit more variety of sound out of the piano.

    A quick description of the "story" that underlies the music:
    Iit is a Japanese myth, Amaterasu, the sun goddess, invites her brother Susano-o, god of storms and disarray, to live with her in the sky-home. However, his stormy and chaotic nature, as well as his penchant for acting out (tantrums, if you will) create tension. Eventually, Susano-o slays one of the horses of heaven and tosses the freshly slaughtered carcass onto the floor of Amaterasu's weaving room. The last straw, Amaterasu abandons her rightful place in the sky and runs to hide deep within a cave in the ground.

    The other gods, fearful of the effect having no sun in the sky will have, gather around Omori-kane, a wise god, who suggests they trick Amaterasu into coming out from her hideaway. He hangs a mirror from a branch of a tree, while Ama-no-Uzume, the goddess of dawn and revelry, dances and the other gods laugh and cheer her on. This brings Amaterasu out, curious to see what the noise is. When she comes out from her retreat, the other gods block the entrance to the cave, stopping her from running back in, and she takes her rightful place in the sky once more.

    Anyway, without further ado, the complete Sonata opus 39, for doublebass and piano, subtitled "Amaterasu".

    1 – Amaterasu

    2 – Susano-o

    3 – Sibling Rivalry

    4 – Omori-kane

    5 – Ama-no-Uzume
    6 – Hinode (Amaterasu ascends to the Heavens)
    (the recording combines the 5th and 6th movements into one sound file)

    I separated the movements in this recording, to make them a bit easier to access, however, in the original work, the movements are played without pause.

    While the story seems to indicate that the 1st movement should be very lyrical and melodic to go with the character of Amaterasu, I felt that sticking TOO closely to the story for the sonata would be detrimental to the structure. So let us say that Amaterasu, in the first movement, is quite the spunky goddess who likes raucous rhythms and musical outbursts
    The second movement, also may seem contradictory, but I wanted to develop that movement from the fact that Susano-o is the brother of Amaterasu. The material is similar in source, but treated differently.
    The third movement is more dissonant, describing the havoc that Susano-o causes in the house of Amaterasu,
    while the fourth is considerably more romantic and tonal and represents the wisdom of Omori-kane and his plan to trick Amaterasu out of her hiding place.
    The next movement is Ama-no-Uzume's dances, as a series of variations. Each dance is progressively faster than the previous one.
    A brief coda at the end reprises material from the opening movement and represents Hinode, the sunrise, as Amaterasu returns to her home in the heavens.

    Each movement is quite short as well. The whole sonata runs around 18 minutes in length

  2. #2

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    I'm listening as I post.

    First of all, let me repeat my admiration to you and your works!

    Now to the work at hand.

    3rd movement, Sibling rivalry.

    I think that it's a very precise work and your harmonic language is somewhat different than the rest of your works that I know off. This, by all means, seems to imply that your have outdone yourself! So well done on that.

    The aggressive nature of the piano, along with the longer lines of the CB work extremely well.

    In all there's nothing I can really spot for further feedback, apart from, perhaps that very short cadenza towards the end, where it seems to be going rather fast...

    4th movement, Omori-Kane.

    This work seems to compliment the previous one perfectly. The quartal (?) harmony is working miracles, without being too tonal for my taste, or for the previous work. At least for my ears.

    You are using pizz with the CB, which also works great! The start and stop in the intro (prelude of the work) is also a fine example of something probably started later in the composition and ended up first? (by that I mean that I have a hunch that you composed the main part first and then the intro).

    The arpegges in the piano are great and so is the harmonic progression from one 'style' to the next.

    It's a magical work!

    Now, honestly, I'm not saying this to lure you, or win you over, I hope you know that. But I really wouldn't change anything, given the aesthetics you're after (since it's not my style of writting, but it very much is my style of listening!).

    Well done Michel! Thank you!

  3. #3

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    I think these 2 movements work well in contrast to each other. As Nikolas said, the quartal harmony works well giving a quasi tonality that is refreshing.

    I am amazed at the dynamic contrast you were able to achieve. The soft passages forced me to really listen especially in the 4th movement. The ryhthmic aggressiveness in the 3rd movement was almost cinematic in it's scope.

    These are very nicely constructed movements and I enjoyed listening to them.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong


  4. #4

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    thanks guys

    Yes, Niko, the slow movement (4th) I decided to go a sort of "safe" route. I created my harmonic backbone, then worked the material into a starter melodic form, then came back and expanded, stretched and added the intro (however, I already knew what I wanted as an intro... there's a hesitant quality to it, which was necessary, as in the ballet version of this music, it is the entrance of a "wise" character, and it was important to have the rising Hirajoshi mode motif present).

    As always for me, when I write something "lyrical", I often create a very short version of the material, then come back later to it to expand upon it and redevelop the thematic material.

    If there is interest, I can post the two preceding movements as well.
    Obviously, they put the 3rd and 4th movements in context.

  5. #5

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy View Post
    If there is interest, I can post the two preceding movements as well.
    Obviously, they put the 3rd and 4th movements in context.
    Personally, I find great interest in the two previous movements, so go ahead!

    PS. I actually wasn't aware of the Hirajoshi scale. Interesting...

  6. #6
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
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    Jan 2005

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    Wonderful writing! The fourth movement contrasts/complements the 3rd very nicely. The language is fresh, yet completely accessible. The arc of the fourth mvt. is very natural and organic: it has the feel of the music writing itself (if only!). And very nice writing for the bass - I assume you have a performer in mind?

    Will the other movements be posted (or perhaps they were, and I missed them)?

    Thanks for sharing this.

    All the best,
    Ron Pearl





  7. #7

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolas View Post
    Personally, I find great interest in the two previous movements, so go ahead!

    PS. I actually wasn't aware of the Hirajoshi scale. Interesting...
    I updated the initial post to include the missing first two movements, as well as a slightly more detailed description of the story which is the genesis of the piece.

    Hirajoshi: Japanese pentatonic scale.

    C - Db - F - G - Ab

    VERY difficult to fit into the harmonically richer musical material I normally work with. In this case, I ended up transposing the scale chromatically, then took all of those that had a C natural in them, and re-arranged the notes in scalar order beginning with C natural. This gave me a sequence of differently transposed pentatonic scales to work with.

    aaaaaaaaaand I cheated a bit.

  8. #8

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    particular problems I had with the piano were mostly related to its far greater dynamic range than any of the other libraries I have (including all the Garritan ones, solo violin and solo cello included).

    In this case, the contrabass solo isn't from a Garritan product. Hopefully, when we finally get the new string library, the Garritan product will give a run for its money to the string library I am using in this recording.

    The other problem I seem to have is making it sound as though the piano and the soloist are "in the same room". I find the GAS a tiny bit dryer (dry GAS?). I'm not normally one who notices this type of thing, but in this particular case, the difference is noticeable enough.

    As always, this is Finale 2011 performing the work.
    I have recently learned that I can hide a WHOLE LOT OF STUFF in Finale!!! So I can just write and notate exactly as I need it to look for the publishers, and for the playback stuff, well, hit Alt+Ctrl+Shift +H to hide any pesky "performance" markings that mustn't be printed.

    I've also been gradually coming to a sort of "standard" in my notation as far as size of score and elements is concerned. This has been a long drawn-out process.

  9. #9

    Thumbs up Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    I could hear you had problems in rendering: there are parts where I can imagine the piano should go just that little bit louder without getting overbearing, but probably the range of that transition too "short". The rendering of the bass is great.

    Anyway, while the piano problem makes sound a bit muffled at times, the whole piece is just great. Evocative, great use of the solo instrument in its highest register, lyrical lines, pulsating rhythms, and each part of great consistency in an admirable harmonic language. The last part has a slightly different style, more late Romantic, but works very well in the context of the first three.

    If this were a concert, I would give you a standing ovation.

  10. #10

    Re: Sonata for doublebass and (GAS) piano

    thank-you Theo.

    I've been working on making a set of articulations in Finale that will allow me to micro-adjust velocity in certain passages.

    The only tedious thing with this is it makes for a rather scruffy-looking score with all those greyed-out "invisible" articulations (in Finale, any item that is "invisible - ie: non-printing - comes out a shade of grey. you have to assign just how much % of grey invisible items are. I want to SEE them, but lots of them still makes for lots of grey patches).

    I've since updated the recording, but have not uploaded it yet. I think you will find the muddy patches slightly less so now.

    More noticeable in the 4th movement.

    I've started working on the finale and coda sections, the fifth movement and fifth and a half movement

    I don't foresee having a recording available for those sections for a number of weeks, however. While writing on this piece has been much faster than my normal work flow, I still don't think I can pull off a movement a week, even working 9-10 hour stretches every day.

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