for double bass solo
Written for the workshops Voix nouvelles of the Royaumont Foundation in 2008.
Performed by Jocelyn Rudasigwa (Vortex Ensemble) in Royaumont (France) (September 2008) and at the Conservatory of Geneva (Switzerland) (October 2008)
Instrumentation: Double bass solo.
Tau represents an attempt to consider the musical object as a union between the figure and the instrumental gesture that produces it. In this case, it is a study on the immobility of sound in relation with the immobility of the movement that generates it.
Immobility is conceived as the absence of change in an object during a certain time, but such an object can contain, inside itself, a certain degree of mobility, that is to say of velocity of its elements; for intance, a cluster of harmonics played as slowly and uniformly as possible with a very long arcade can be the equivalent of the same cluster articulated with a very quick pattern (performed with a quick ricochet). In this case, the path that goes from one degree of immobility to another is constructed by the piece itself : the slow arcades of the beginning become the final ricochet of an 18 second duration, combination of a very long duration and a very short articulation.
As for its form, the piece is like a passacaglia, in which the second part is a new compressed reading of the first one with a substitution of elements.
The choice of having a precise cluster of natural harmonics (E3-A3-B3) was made on the basic principle that it could be obtained with two opposed positions on the cord - one closer to the finger board and the other closer to the bridge - so as it would be possible to have the occasion of following a second path, more properly physical, that, from a position closer to the musician's body - the left hand at the level of the shoulder -, went eventually farther - the right arm extended to the bridge, with the unstable weight of the body leaning forward. In order to restore the balance of the present forces and to break the limit imposed by the quick articulation of the bow on the cords, I thought necessary to open an other perspective, by rubbing the cords on all their length, going from the bridge down to the finger board, the ultimate spatial limit of the instrument.
The other now elaborations of Tau - two for ensemble, one for orchestra and two with percussions - keep intact the part of the double bass and expend it in the sounding board constituted by the instrumentation at disposal. In particular, in Tau II - but also in the next elaborations -, I decided to stretch harmonic spectra containing the cluster indicated above, without hiding it - on the contrary, reduplicating it - with other sounds. In all versions of Tau there is a macro-formal fade out, that is to say the piece begins with a tutti and finishes with a solo (this is also valid of the percussion duo of Tau V).