Episodes is available from American Composers Edition (composers.com) and may be ordered here .
Program Notes with Score Video
In the Spring of 2023, John Casey emailed a cat-mauled copy of a piece I had given to him back when we were colleagues in the Phoenix Symphony, some 40 years earlier.He not only wanted to know the missing parts, but wanted to know anything else I knew about the piece.I recognized the piece as one of many structural experiments I attempted in the early 1980’s, but otherwise did not recognize it.I dug through my collection of unused pieces accumulated over the years and found not only that particular piece, but several other pieces for unaccompanied double bass.I decided to assemble four of them into this collection.
Whenever I wanted to try something out, I would usually write it for an instrument I could play myself.If it didn’t work, then there was no harm done.I usually wrote for piano, but sometimes I wrote for solo bass.Also, I figured that if it worked for solo bass, it was worth pursuing further.
The piece that John sent me is the first, which I have titled, Mr Fussy.It consists of an opening two-bar phrase that undergoes constant adjustment, or “fussing” with.It sounds a little like an obsessive-compulsive comedy skit, but it is a lot of fun to play.
The second piece is aptly named Filling Time.The original four-bar phrase is expanded and filled in.Then that phrase is also expanded and filled in, and so on.The last phrase consists of the last half of the piece.I had learned that this technique was used is some Southeast Asian ensembles and wanted to try it out.
The third piece is a Dessert Buffet. It consists of collection of many small confections placed in an interesting display.It is only two minutes long, as we all know what happens when we have too much dessert!
The last piece, River Run, is a little longer and a little more difficult.It consists of several groups of related ideas which are mixed together and rapidly featured in sequence, as if they were scenery on river rafting trip.The trip sees many sights and runs many rapids on its journey, but instead of ending in a calm lake, the expedition ends in a safety net just before it goes over the falls!
The pieces are not for beginners, but neither are they overly difficult.They are good pieces for somewhat more advanced students.