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Theme and goals

The theme of this project comprises analysis and development of novel techniques for the double bass.

The objective of the project is twofold:

1. Investigate novel playing techniques for the double bass as found in the works Zab ou la passion selon st. Nectaire (1981, ca. 30 min.) by Philippe Boivin, and Luciano Berio: Sequenza XIVb – Versione per Contrabasso di Stefano Scodanibbio (2004, ca. 15 min.). Analyses of these techniques will be compared to related techniques, where such exists in other works.

2. Develop new techniques for the double bass.

The playing techniques I want to investigate and develop are mainly based on harmonics (tones where the natural fundamental frequency and some of its overtones are suppressed by lightly touching the string), multiphonics (complex sounds based on overtones), and percussive techniques. It is in combination with unorthodox bowing- and pizzicato techniques that quite new sounds have emerged. Knowledge of these techniques is still not widely established, as they only exist in a few cutting-edge works, played by a few dedicated performers. Through musical and technical analysis I want to master playing techniques that are used in the work Zab ou la passion selon st. Nectaire, composed by Philippe Boivin in collaboration with the French double-bassist Jean-Pierre Robert. It is especially necessary to learn skills in order to perform the percussive techniques in the work.

Further, I particularly want to master playing techniques created by the Italian double-bassist Stefano Scodanibbio. Since 1980 Scodanibbio has been a central personality within the European art-music scene, through his own compositions, and through his development of novel techniques. With focus on Sequenza XIVb I want to work on, and elaborate on technical, timbral and musical issues, related to the special techniques of “harmonics” developed by Scodanibbio.  No one has so far made a thorough study of the techniques he has developed.

My second objective is to further the development of these playing techniques by composing several works, utilizing combinations of harmonics and multiphonics as well as percussive techniques. I hope that good knowledge of the novel techniques can facilitate the creation of new soundscapes. While many techniques are already established in the existing repertoire, the new compositions will serve as a musical overview over the current landscape and further paths possible. Novel techniques will also form the basis for a new work by the Norwegian composer Lars-Petter Hagen.

As described, this project focuses on further development of already existing techniques, as well as developing entirely new ones. This focus will provide information about a new and complex musical field, for the benefit of performers and composers alike. As a performing artist I have experienced the importance of close collaboration between performers and composers for the diffusion of knowledge of novel techniques. Composers in pursuit of new sounds do well to contact experimental and unconventionally thinking performers who possess detailed knowledge of their instruments.