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Sonatina for Viola d'Amore
& Contrabass

Stafford James (bass
& compositions)
J. Hansen (viola d'amore)
Recorded at the
Europaisches Music Festival
Stuttgart, Germany. (1988)

Sonatina for Viola d'Amore & Contrabass 3780Kb 



Abstemious & Sunrise
Stafford James (bass
& compositions)
J. Hansen (viola d'amore)
N. Hayes (vib.)
J. Reynolds (drums)
Recorded in Cologne
Germany (1989)

Abstemious 3936Kb 
Sunrise 2591Kb 

This section is entitled "Gem Box" because it contains compositions that I feel are those that have truly helped me to solidify the concept of the contrabass as a lead melodic voice of an ensemble. They also show the functional characteristics of the instrument from the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic aspect of its role in an ensemble.

In the first example "Sonatina für Viola d'Amour und Kontrabass”, the tuning of the Viola d'Amour, which is a 14 string instrument consisting of 7 playable strings over the bridge and 7 sympathetic strings under the bridge, is similar to Bach's tuning for the "Johannes Passion" except that there is an F natural of the fifth sympathetic string, which gives the sound of a D7#9 chord instead of the D Major tuning of Bach. The tuning for the playable strings is A, D, A, D, F#, A, D. The Major and Minor sounds play against each other to create a certain tension with the instrument. The sound of the low Bass gives the Viola d'Amour the ability to truly show its voice quality. I have tried to, in many ways, pay homage to three composers that I admire very much- Maurice Ravel, Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok.

The second and the third selections, "Abstemious" and "Sunrise", are written to show the Viola d'Amour in a different light, in more of a Jazz setting. Everything is of course notated, including the solo for the instrument in Sunrise. There again I wanted the relationship between the Viola d'Amour and the Contrabass to be a very special one, even though the Bass is played pizzicato. The other instruments add the additional colors to the overall scheme.                 
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