I spent today in rehearsals for the London Contemporary Dance School project. You may recall that this project involves 5 composers and 5 choreographers creating pieces for two (three?) performances coming up.
The composers are now "done" composing and their music ended up in my school mail box last friday. I spent this weekend looking over the parts and realizing that a: I haven't played the upright bass in months, and b: I haven't *learned* music from sheet music in over a year...I've barely even read any sheet music in the last year. In any case it was a struggle and I was really concerned about embarrassing myself in the rehearsals today. I am in 3 of the 5 pieces and as of last night I was pretty sure that I would be fine on Jane's piece, be able to fake Matthew's, and horribly butcher Rupert's.
I don't know that I needed to freak out as much as I did though because two of the composers brought in brand new parts today and all of them took the pieces at much slower tempos than what they had marked.
As it turned out what I'm really going to need to work on is Jane's piece because the opening line is supposed to be a very fluid bass solo and is totally exposed. Unfortunately I am back to playing timidly on the contrabass.
Matthew needed me to be a jazz player because he wrote an entire page of pizzicato driving 8th notes. His piece hurts to play, so I convinced him that it would be better for everyone involved if I did that page with the bow and he agreed. (He even claims now that he likes the sound better! Of course, before there was no sound because I would just stop playing...so maybe take that with a grain of salt.)
I was terrified of Rupert's piece. The tempo markings were swift to say the least, the rhythms are intricate and random and change every bar, and there are all sorts of harmonics that I wasn't entirely sure how to find on the bass. It turns out however that the tempo is slower than he was claiming on the paper and the piece is very well constructed so that even though the rhythms are crazy- it works together with all of the other parts and is quite a bit easier to play with the entire ensemble rather than by ones self.
Rupert has also clearly had someone teach him how to treat his musicians at some point: he offered us his snack, said "thanks" frequently and sincerely, was very clear in his conducting, gave constructive criticism when needed, listened to the musicians when we pointed out that something was unplayable, and ended the rehearsal with the firmest handshake ever.
We are recording these peices for the dancers to rehearse with on Tuesday and Thursday. We start actually playing for the dancers starting at the beginning of March.
Oh, and the reason that this post is titled "Ow" is because even though I didn't embarrass myself playing wise (yes!) I did manage to have the bass slip in such a way that the tuning pegs fell (hard) onto my forehead. I haven't done that since 1996.
I did it twice today.
I have twin raised bumps on my forehead now that look like a V.