for double bass and electronics

Shu Yu Lin

Brief Analysis

The initial idea for this piece was to convey my discontent for shallowness that presents in the society. Shallowness narrows people's perspective, therefore, prevented people to see the quintessence. The cause of this phenomenon might be that people are avoiding problems so they can live in a happier life.

Having this idea in mind, I purposely chose double bass and recorded and rendered sounds to be played back for performance. The reason to use double bass was because it is capable of providing low and firm texture. I created a matrix which the tone rows for the double bass were based on. I composed the matrix based on a scale that was a result of attaching two pentatonic scales. The scale had a center C. Due to its symmetric nature, both tone G and F were present. G was the “dominant” note for one of the pentatonic scale and F was the “dominant” note for the other so to speak from a perspective of Western tonal music. I worked with these tone relations and composed the first sequence. This sequence contained the center C. The highest note was G and the lowest note was F. This sequence contained 5 notes and each note was the starting note of each row in the matrix. As a result, the sequence took up the first column. Setting up the matrix this way, the rest of the tones in the matrix were naturally related to the sequence. The notes in the scale made up the matrix. Thus, the matrix was genuinely derived from the scale.

For electronics, I allowed it to contain only play backs of prepared sound files. Having electronics playing the prepared sound files allowed me to render using Audacity until I am satisfied with each of the sounds. The sources of rendered sound files were the recorded sound of the double bass. During the recording, double bass performer was asked to play the 3 sequences from which the piece was based on. The recordings I obtained were captured from the inside of the double bass. The microphone used to record was long and thin. It was inserted into the double bass from the f-hole, record using Audacity and used Yamaha DM1000 as the mixer. The resulting recordings had minimum environmental noise and their timber were distinct. Not only that the pronounce double bass timber was preserved but it also contained reverberation of the inside of the double bass. The sounds lacked vividness in comparison with live recordings but they worked appropriately in this piece. All the sound files for electronics to perform were generated using these recordings.

Delusion began with electronics setting up an atmosphere and playing the center C in electronics of a very high frequency. Then the 3 sequences were presented with the double bass playing F and G simultaneously in the background. General directions that asked the bass player to imagine a scene in mind were implemented in the piece. For example, in the beginning, double bass player were asked to imagine that he is on a isolated, still boat in the middle of the sea and the boat sways while playing F and G. With no explicit articulation instruction, I relied on this imaging technique from the bass player. I thought to use this method was because I would like to preserve as much performer's own articulation as possible. I assume that variety of performance would result from this open score. The tone rows incorporated in the piece were taken from the matrix. After playing F and G, bass player was instructed to play the slanted tone rows from the matrix. Following these rows, the tones with explicit dynamic and articulation instruction were played in order to push toward the climax section of the piece. In the climax section, the bass played sequences of tones from an pseudo organized graph that resembled the Chinese Wu Xing cycle. The electronics interacts with double bass by playing the prepared sound files. Due to the electronics' characteristic of limitlessness, I created sound files that can set up an overall atmosphere for the piece and also allowed it to take the lead in the beginning as it presented the 3 quintessential sequences of the piece. Through the planned interaction for both medium, it is my hope to deliver my message.

Here is a pdf version of this analysis.

brief analysis

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