Collaborative Contrabass: Exploring the Role of the Double Bass in Chamber Music Through Performance
Embargoed until: 2019-03-26
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The Collaborative Contrabass project is a multi-faceted exploration of double bass chamber music encompassing musicological research, performance and reflexive practice. The intention of this research is to provide a deeper understanding of the role that the double bass has played in chamber music since the eighteenth century and the challenges this repertoire presents for the performer. Its wider aim is to promote the double bass as a collaborative instrument and encourage the double bass community to embrace a wider range of chamber music repertoire. The research holds particular relevance to double bassists but should also be pertinent to all chamber music practitioners and enthusiasts. An examination of creative practice has been at the centre of the research, in the form of four public recitals of chamber music. The repertoire for each recital programme was informed by musicological research, drawing from the diverse core of existing literature for the instrument. The rehearsal and recital processes were deeply examined through reflexive research to allow a thorough exploration of collaborative practice. To reflect the central role of artistic practice in the project this exegesis is supported by edited sound and video recordings of four recital performances and is also interspersed with short video excerpts and score examples. Each Collaborative Contrabass recital programme represents a specific research focus and offers different insights into collaborative practice. The first programme explores the Viennese tuning system introduced for double bass during the second half of the eighteenth century and the repertoire it inspired. Selected duos, trios and quartets by Mozart, Sperger, Dittersdorf, Vanhal, Hoffmeister and Michael and Franz Joseph Haydn were prepared and performed firstly with standard tuning and a second time with Viennese tuning to allow a practical exploration and comparison of both tuning systems. The second recital programme, titled Anything but the ‘Trout’, investigates the development of the piano quintet throughout the nineteenth century and the changing role of the double bass within this genre. It included selected movements from Romantic piano quintets with double bass by Hummel, Ries, Farrenc, Onslow, Goetz and Vaughan Williams. The final recital programme showcases duets composed within the last three decades by John Tartaglia, Andrea Clearfield, Andrew Ford, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Cathy Milliken, Behzad Ranjbaran and Edgar Meyer. This programme celebrates and examines the influence of virtuoso double bassists on composers and explores contemporary and extended techniques on the double bass. The Collaborative Contrabass project brings exposure to rarely performed works of chamber music for double bass from four centuries. It examines these works from both historical and practical perspectives and offers insight into collaborative practice from the perspective of the double bassist. This practice-led research provides double bassists and the wider musical community a wealth of insights into collaborative repertoire, alongside research to historically contextualise these works and promote a high level of artistic practice.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
Viennese tuning system