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PROGRAM NOTES by the composer
In A Deep Funk Dance Set for solo Bass Clarinet (or Contralto or Contrabass)

IN A DEEP FUNK for Bass Clarinet is the result of several intersecting ideas that have come full-circle. As a bass clarinetist myself, the Bach cello suites are standard repertoire for my practice and warm-ups -- partially because they're excellent training for intonation and interpretation, and partially because they're monumental masterpieces that can be played on bass clarinet straight from the cello music.

When I was commissioned in 1995 to create an unaccompanied competition piece for a contrabassoon festival, I responded with this dance suite somewhat in the Bach model, but using dance patterns from my own era rather than baroque dances.

Many years later, Barbara Haney commissioned FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS as a solo bass clarinet piece to premiere at the 2013 ICA ClarinetFest. When Barbara followed by asking if I happened to have anything else she could premiere at the 2014 ClarinetFest, it seemed time to make a bass clarinet adaptation of IN A DEEP FUNK.

The 2014 bass clarinet version is almost identical to the 1996 contrabassoon version, but the inherent difference in the instruments (and 18 years' time) led to a number of minor alterations.

The following details are taken from the 1996 program notes:1. HUSTLE MISTERIOSO uses a hustle rhythm, and the pitches are reminsicent of the "Powerhouse" motif used in many of Carl Stalling's cartoon scores. It also is a traditionally-built rounded binary form.
2. TWIST VARIATIONS uses a theme in driving quarter-notes and 12-bar blues, and then goes quite far afield into many rhythmic and textural worlds, using the 12-bar blues as a chaconne.
3. BEAR HUG is a 12/8 slow dance, certainly inspired by the feel of Smokey Robinson's and other ballads of that genre.

Roger Soren gave the world premiere at IDRS 1997; audio excerpts of that live performance are on the contrabassoon page of this website. Individual movements have been used frequently for audition requirements, and few have dared to play the complete suite in entirety. I've had the rare pleasure of hearing the 1st movement played en masse in unison at a contrabassoon convention.

There is also a sequel, Deep Funk, Pt. 2, for solo viola.


last updated February 20, 2020