In the Phoenix Symphony, since the 1970’s, we have split up the string section into two parts to play in schools, chamber orchestra concerts, or stage works. In 1981, I found myself playing principal bass for school concerts. Part of our show was for the principal to play a small excerpt alone to demonstrate the instrument. After playing an audition excerpt for a couple shows, I decided it would be more fun and interesting to write short pieces of less than a minute each. Taking the challenge, I wrote and performed six different demonstration pieces. Those piece became the second movement of this collection of three unaccompanied pieces.
The other two movements were written a couple of years later. There was no particular plan, except to have some more substantial pieces to play. These works do not use any extended techniques, or even many less extended techniques. The works were intended to show off the instrument for what it is, a full-bodied basso profundo with a deep tone and resonance.
There is no imperative to play all three movements at once. I often play only one or two movements in concert myself. And as their origin implies, the six miniatures may be useful in all kinds of different circumstances.
2. Six Miniatures