CURSIVE Ბʲ for Double Bass and Piano (2011)
PROGRAM NOTES: “For the ancient Chinese, the calligraphy is to be considered the most fundamental artistic manifestation of the national mind… The central element of Chinese calligraphy is the ‘abstract’ of line…Straight lines give the impression of solidity, strength, severity, immobility. Curve engenders feelings of motion, buoyancy, suavity, and delicacy; they also tend towards the negative and effeminate…Rhythm, line, and structure are more perfectly embodied in calligraphy than in painting or sculpture, and even form and movement appear in it in at least equal measure. Every Chinese character, built up in its own square, presents to the calligrapher an almost infinite variety of problems of structure and composition; and when executed it presents to the reader a formal design the abstract beauty of which is capable of drawing the mind away from the literal meaning of the characters…” 1 Cursive is the second piece commissioned by bassist James Sullivan and was completed under the guidance of Prof. P.Q. Phan during my senior year. When writing the piece, I was particularly interested in the relationship between musical line and time space. The line is colored by the subtle timbre shift on the strings by the double bass, while the time space is articulated by the explosive staccato chords in the piano. This relationship resembles the ⣲㥹 (wild cursive) style of Chinese calligraphy.
DURATION: ca. 10 minutes and 30 seconds
Yee Chiang, Chinese Calligraphy: An Introduction to its Aesthetic and Technique (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966) 106-107.
SYMBOLS & ABBREVIATIONS: Double Bass: s.p. = sul ponticello m.s.p. = molto sul ponticello s.t. = sul tasto ord. = normal position N.V. = non vibrato W.V. = a quarter tone wide vibrato x note head with a circle= scratch tone = richocet = long fermata Piano: square note head chord = cluster diamond note head = silent keys
= brush the low strings with the fingernails big X note head = hit the low strings with the palm, near the bridge = long fermata