The Cloths of Heaven
for SATB choir
Instrumentation: 6-String Electric Bass and Fretless Bass
Composition Date: 1999
Commissioned: Brian Webb Dance Company
Roots was composed for the Brian Webb Dance Company to celebrate their 20th anniversary. For 20 years this company has been one of the most influential in the country. Brian originally wanted a 20 minute piece for solo upright bass. I had trouble imagining writing 20 minutes of solo music for upright bass, so I suggested electric bass instead. With the choice of 4, 5 and 6-string basses, as well as fretted and un-fretted, there seemed many more harmonic and melodic possibilities. Once we agreed on electric bass I immediatley suggested Paul Shihadeh as soloist. Paul is an incredible musician and one the finest electric bass players I know.
The work is divided into four sections each exploiting a different facet of the bass. Section I is slow and melodic showcasing the harmonic possibilties of the 6-string fretted bass. Section II is minimalist in texture and uses an effects prossesor to create the illusion that there is more than one bass. Section III pays homage to the fretless bass style of Jaco Pastorius. Section IV is the most aggressive section of the piece adding distortion to the bass and featuring the technique of slapping the strings with the finger tips.