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SHSK’H Vol.05 : Solo Viola d’Amore - Notes by Garth Knox
The viola d'amore has multiple strings and an infinite number of possible sound worlds. I was happy to explore some of these here, in a mixture of pre-meditated scenarios and free improvisations.
1: Oriental blues
Tuning the third and fourth strings to the same note and using them together gives a nice doubling feeling to the sound and suggests something a little oriental. Gently strumming the sympathetic strings when they're in a bluesy tuning takes us somewhere else. A little musical journey from one set of strings to the other set.
2: Sympathetic spheres I
Amplification of the sympathetic strings takes us under the bridge and inside the instrument, to listen to the music of the spheres that's unfolding in there.
3: Double digital duo
Running fingers and no bow for an african-inspired double-tracked dialogue with another me.
4: Fabula fantasy
Oscar Strasnoy, a great argentinian composer and a good friend, suggested this tuning for a piece he wrote called "Fabula" (a pocket opera for me and Daniel Gloger (voice)). I liked the tuning and wanted to explore it here.
5: Homage to Jack Vanarsky
My father-in-law and friend, Jack Vanarsky, made beautiful moving sculptures which had little motors inside. Like the one we hear on this track, they make gently purring noises, and I wanted to make a piece based on these sounds, as a homage to Jack, who died unexpectedly in February 2009.
6: Bottleneck bow scan
Starting at the head of the viola d'amore, and moving slowly all the way up the instrument to the other end of it, "scanning" with the bow to see what sounds can be found at each point. Turning the bow backwards makes a convincing bottleneck effect.
7: Sympathetic spheres II
Same approach as track 2, but you never step into the same river twice.
8: Other colour
So many notes resonating together in the viola d'amore in the end produce a pure vocal overtone, rising out of the harmonics to turn into a human voice. Black is the colour, but different shades of black, and even different versions of the tune. Thanks to Jody for the beautiful ending...