Beautiful Beast (2007)
In 2007, Scott Worthington, an emerging bass virtuoso, composer, and new music performer--then still an undergraduate--asked me to write what became Beautiful Beast. As I began to compose, I was reminded that, of all the string instruments, the bass is most suitable for expanded instrumental techniques and nuances due to the large distance between notes on the fingerboard, the long decay time of plucked notes, and the availability of many high harmonics. It is also an instrument that projects the performer’s physical actions to the audience in a very palpable way.
Beautiful Beast coordinates a variety of different timbres in an organized manner, grouping them according to their sonic and physical similarities. The piece starts and ends with the complete repertoire of all the sounds used in the piece played on one or two pitches. Between these musical bookends, the music goes through a number of episodes, each with its own sonic signature and harmonic progression, so that each episode has its special suchness, from elegant to earthy, ethereal to intense, gentle to radical intimacy.