2 scores (15 p. each)
- Standard notation with some explained symbols
- Advanced difficulty
Are you are looking for an atmospheric 20th-century piece for double bass and cello which contains some surprising, innovative effects? Then, Donald Erb’s Four Timbre Pieces is the piece for you.
American composer, Erb (1927-2008) wrote this piece in a period of his output when he focused on chromatic motions and counterpoint. In Four Timbre Pieces we can clearly trace this tendency in many ways as you will notice.
Written in 1989 and published by Merion Music in 1993, it was not the first attempt for Erb to write for the double bass. His first composition for our beloved instrument, Déjà vu: six etudes for the double bass was published in 1982 also by Merion. This piece was dedicated to Bertram Tureczky, pioneer of modern double bass techniques. We can assume that Tureczky may have suggested many of the effects and their execution, influencing Erb in how he conceptualized the instrument. Many of the figures and effects he used in this piece are reoccurring in Four Timbre Pieces, such as the rattling of an object between two strings, similar chromatic and rhythmic figures, and the use of highest possible note, toward which the bass player needs to slide up, among other effects. After the Four Timbre Pieces, Erb wrote another collection of pieces Three Pieces for Double Bass Alone published in 2000, recycling many similar technical ideas from the previous pieces.
Let’s look at the effects he shares between the cello and the double bass in Four Timbre Pieces and how they reflect the atmosphere of each title of the movements.
I would like to express my gratitude to Svetlana Garitselova for recording the examples with me.
The first movement is titled "Illusions." Erb creates illusion by different techniques, such as very low dynamic levels, glissando, and mostly chromatic motion throughout as if searching for something. Unique effects in this movements occur, such as:
1. hidden voices (humming while playing)
Erb employs this musical color mixture right in the beginning of the movement, where the cello and the bass plays the only common open G string with a rather complex rhythm. Notice, that the players are instructed to use chopsticks for the col legno instead of the traditionally used bow stick.
The movement starts out with a very soft, mysterious melody that is imitated in inversion.
1. The movement starts out rather aggressively, with the dissonant Major 7th intervals in both instruments, heavily accented as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this piece.
I hope to see you soon with another wonderful piece of music written for the double bass with other instruments.