for double bass
duration at least 5'
Bodhrán v.1.0 (2014) started out in response to a call for double bass works from the Irish Composers Collective. The call involved attending a workshop with double bass supremo Malachy Robinson. I came to the workshop with about seven snippets of ideas, the first of which involved detuning the bass considerably and bowing heavily with a jig swing on the lower strings to emulate the sound of the bodhrán. Malachy calmly said, ‘Oh you mean like this...’ and then proceeded to achieve exactly what I wanted and what no amount of fancy notation could achieve. So, I set about ‘writing’ my music specifically with Malachy’s intuition in mind. The result is essentially a series of stimuli that the performer has to respond to, through repetition and extemporization. As the composer, all I have done is to implement several conditions within which the improvisation can be structured. To this end I have labelled the result a ‘conditioned improvisation’. Some of these conditions involve exploring certain physical aspects of the bodhrán. For example, playing towards the rim produces a thinner sound which is generally higher in pitch, or playing on the side of the bodhrán produces a wooden sound (= col legno). The navigation amongst these elements is left entirely to the performer.
18.12.2014 — Malachy Robinson (db.), National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland