You will scarcely credit this, but I wrote “Dance for Double Bass Duo and Marimba” today.
I ditched the temple blocks; they just weren’t working. But I knew I wanted some kind of percussion going on that would provide the rhythmic fleetness that the basses just can’t do, poor things. Finally I fell back on my friend the marimba.
Now the challenge was to integrate, if not subordinate, the marimba, which if I didn’t deliberately hold back would take over the piece; it would become a marimba solo with growly accompaniment back there somewhere. This I did by keeping it (at least at first) in its lower registers and playing a rhythmic motif that is clearly accompanying the basses and not vice versa.
I don’t think I mentioned one of the piece’s salient points: it’s in 7/8 time. Tricky, but savage. The piece is marked “dangerously,” and that’s what I want the bass players to do, to push it towards violence.
Harmonically, it’s in the Phrygian mode: start on an E and play a scale using only white notes. Dangerous sounding, you see. It shifts about a bit, but it’s mostly pretty minimalist in nature. About halfway through, it breaks out into C major, and it’s this portion that probably will trivialize it. It’s too pretty, too much sunshine and hope in such a moody piece. Plus, happy music cannot be serious music, you know, not since the twelve-toners and the atonalists hijacked concert music 80 years ago.
Too bad. It’s perfectly serviceable gebrauchsmusik. Well, unless it can’t actually be played by bassists. I’ll spring it on Stephen tomorrow and find out.