My friend Elanor Lee (cello) and I are halfway through our collaboration! We're super EXCITED by how well it has been going. After a lot of brainstorming, we decided to write a set of six little pieces for cello that don't use the bow. It's 2021, and everyone has explored the infinite library of techniques using the bow. Why not explore what's possible without it? There's a whole world of techniques associated with pizzicato playing, and Eleanor is super dedicated to mastering all the possibilities! She is the perfect musician to help me compose this piece!
Below are some excerpts of the second and
third movements with brief commentary.
The second movement began life as a Sarabande, but never found itself in the proper meter (3/4) for that dance. Instead, it's a quiet, melancholy meditation for the cello. With no bow to use, Eleanor does an amazing job using all of her pizzicato playing techniques to turn the cello into a harp! This movement alternates between slow arpeggios (rolled chords) and lyrical recitative-like passages.
In the third movement, the cellist will use a rat tail comb in place of a bow! Eleanor and I actually discovered this technique somewhat on accident. At first, I was planning on having her use dowel sticks to play this movement. To try this out in a Zoom session, we used a comb to substitute for the dowel (We hadn't bought a dowel yet.) However, we realized that the comb was WAY MORE AWESOME! Because of the difference sides of the comb (teeth, handle, etc.) there's so many playing techniques possible. We ended up using arcomb to create a kind of drumming on the strings and comb bows drawing the comb of the teeth across the strings; it creates a school scratchy punctuation!