Teppo Hauta-aho and Frank Proto are iconic figures in the double bass world. They were born in 1941, celebrated their 80th birthdays in 2021, and each has made a unique contribution to the solo double bass repertoire. Both are self-taught as composers, using their musical backgrounds, knowledge and influences to works which have dominated the solo repertoire for the past fifty years.
Teppo & Frank @ 80 brings together twelve composers from the UK, USA, Spain, Mexico and Venezuela to write a short work for unaccompanied double bass as a musical tribute to the two double bass giants.
DAVID HEYES (UK) - Songlines
"...the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia are known to Europeans as 'Dreaming-tracks' or 'Songlines'; to the Aboriginals as the 'Footprints of the Ancestors' of the 'Way of the Law'. Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path - birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes - and so singing the world into existence." [Bruce Chatwin: The Songlines (1987)]
"Although this was composed as a celebration for the 80th birthday celebrations my friends Teppo Hauta-aho and Frank Proto, it doesn't have a celebratory feel and developed into a piece which seemed to be timeless and lyrical. I have long been fascinated by the Dreamtime and Songlines of the native Australians and the idea of creating a piece which combined mystery alongside the sonorous qualities of the solo double bass appealed. Each phrase is a new songline or pathway with musical ideas which are simple and slow, as if following an unwritten map but always with a specific destination in mind." [David Heyes]
GRAHAM BOAG (Oman/UK) - another day...
"I didn’t have any clear thoughts initially about what to write for this piece especially when Frank and Teppo have written such incredible works for the double bass. Then one evening after I had finished working on another piece, I had a seed of an idea for this. ‘another day…’ is an attempt to and capture the character of their music in some small way and also try to create a celebration like you’d see around the world, where music is at the centre of the gathering.
The tonal centre is heavily evolved around the open D string which provides a drone that you would hear in folk music from various parts of the world including Scandinavia and America. This ‘folk’ style continues throughout the piece with the ‘drone’ moving up to the open G string and the melody played on the D string. As we move through the piece the Tempo increases until we head towards the final chord of the piece with an accelerando." [Graham Boag]
MARY RAE (USA) - Yet Still Steadfast
"This piece was written to honour Teppo Hauta-aho and Frank Proto on the occasion of their eightieth birthdays. In the midst of a pandemic, celebrating such important milestones shifts the mind to what is enduring in life. The title is drawn from John Keats' sonnet, "Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast As Thou Art," and reflects my desire to honour the celebrants by focusing on beauty which is always present and brings peace to the heart." [Mary Rae]
LUIS GUILLERMO PÉREZ (Venezuela) - Celebration
"I wrote this piece thinking about works like the Sonata 1963 and the Carmen Fantasy by Frank Proto, I also thought to make it free, like Kadenza by Teppo Hauta-aho. In the introduction (part A), resonant arpeggios are played pizzicato, with small arco interventions, this first part is free and rhapsodic, with passages, slowing and accelerating. Then begins a faster section (part B) which is a rhythmic dance with brackets grouped into three and four accents, given by the changes of the compass, repeating the theme to octaves and culminates with a small coda (Solemmne) in two-part chords and played forte. David Heyes suggested I dedicate it to Susan Hagen who liked it and has recorded several Recital Music composers." [ Luis Guillermo Pérez]
HUMPHREY CLUCAS (UK) - Phantasmata
"The basis for this piece is the plainsong hymn 'Te lucis ante terminum'. My epigraph is the English version of half the second verse. (Phantasmata: Latin for 'fantasies') The first fifteen bars represent ill dreams, nightly fears, etc. The last note of bar 15 begins the plainsong tune, representing the forces of light; it is compromised, however, by succeeding lines starting in the wrong key. The piece ends with a question mark; neither side wins." [Humphrey Clucas]
JOHN M. KENNEDY (USA) - Proto-HautaAho
“Proto-HautoAho (moto perpetuo)” pays tribute to two of the most influential double bassists of our time, Frank Proto and Teppo Hauta-aho. The moto perpetuo captures their inspiring and continued energy with musical gestures that pay homage to Frank’s “Sonata 1963” and Teppo’s “Kadenza”. Dedicated to David Heyes and his “Frank Proto, Teppo Hauto-aho Birthday Project”. Bon anniversaire!" [John M. Kennedy]
RODRIGO MATA (Mexico) - VIII Decennium
"This work was commissioned by master David Heyes, who is organising a great celebration for the 80th birthday of the wonderful composers and bassists Frank Proto and Teppo Hauta-aho. These great musicians, who have contributed so much to the musical literature of the double bass, are the reason and the inspiration for the present work, which has the intention of wrapping in a brief musical moment, a little of the character and the colours that emerge of the works of these great composers and translate them into a new creation. The musical contribution that these great composers have made over the last 50 years is an extensive catalogue of works that have allowed us to explore new sounds on the double bass, new stories to tell, new pieces to perform and are part of a unique and interesting repertoire that personally motivates me to continue playing my instrument and to continue composing for it.
"VIII Decennium" is a piece that uses the resonance and sustain of the instrument as a predominant resource, especially the open strings and harmonics. The introduction is presented with an insistent rhythmic figure that recites a melody between chords that arise to support the phrases, here full-bodied pizzicatos are used, allowing some notes to vibrate, the use of harp harmonics (technique provided by Stefano Scodanibbio), and the particular effect of multiphonic in this type of harmonic (technique provided by Teppo Hauta-aho). Subsequently, after a calm final pizzicato chord, a new voice emerges with the introduction of the bow, this is the intermediate part in which two voices with different timbres (pizz and bow) carry out a small contrapunctus game, which gives way to the final speech that It transforms the previous rhythmic character into a small choral that gives a contrasting turn to the piece, using double notes and mixing high harmonics with notes from the lowest register played at the same time. It ends with a long and spectral note full of artificial harmonics obtained by the extreme vibrato, the use of the ponticello and the lightness in the bow. The last note is like the last little bell that sounds before silence, and as a joke, it is reminiscent of the combination of pizzicato and bow that developed in the middle of the piece." [Rodrigo Mata]
PETER BYROM-SMITH (UK) - Encore
"How do you write something in honour to such established, and respected artists as both Teppo Hauta-aho, and Frank Proto? Well, that was a thought which occurred to me straight away after agreeing to compose something in celebration, and honouring both these Maestros on the occasion of their 80th birthday’s? So, I thought both long, and hard about this. Whilst exploring their individual, amazing musically creative careers, with a vast experience as both composers, and performers, also listening to their music, a few things then struck me! With such great works written by both composers, from Orchestral through Chamber, to Jazz music, and also their vast musical expertise, in performing too, what could I possibly write as a true musical tribute?
With that in mind I decided to avoid that altogether in fact. Instead, I chose to focus on how I felt, and understood about them as both humans, as well as creative artists, and deciding to write something inspired by them, a solo bass work with a number of twists, and turns, but always moving forward. Knowing too of course that they have influenced this small piece of mine, which is a heartfelt tribute to their true musicianship, but also at the same time it is also a big thank you from all of us, musicians, audiences, and listeners alike, for all the wonderful work they’ve produced over their careers. I hope that this short piece works, shows true respect, and acknowledgement of all their achievements, and also works as a tribute from me to my esteemed colleagues!
The title ‘Encore’ I hear you ask? Well, this is because whilst we are all wishing them both a very happy birthday in 2021, we also wish to hear much more of their music too! Happy Birthday Teppo and Frank!!" [Peter Byrom-Smith]
MICHAEL MONTGOMERY (USA) - Milestones
"It is, obviously, quite an honour and privilege to be included in a tribute to these two bassist legends on the occasion of their 80 birthdays. My composition, as I understand it, will be one of twelve two minute compositions for solo double bass relating in some way to these gentlemen.
I chose to use the letters of their full names (Teppo Hauta-aho and Frank Proto) to generate several series of notes. I began by separating the first twenty-one letters of the alphabet into three groups of seven letters each and numbering them (1 though 7) to indicate a relation to an arbitrarily assigned “tonic” note (I chose A for the first group, C for the second, and Eb for the third group). After marking every letter used in the two names the three series generated were 1-5-6 (of A), 1-4-7 (of C), and 1-2-4-6-7 (of Eb), and these became the tonal palette of each of the three sections of the piece.
The opening section of the piece is quite tranquil and firmly anchored on the pitch of the open A string, but with the introduction of each section that follows the tonal centre becomes progressively more ambiguous, rhythmic movement more complex, and tempo accelerates, reflective, we might imagine, of options presented to one at various milestones of life. The opening section (and the settled ambience it conjures) returns appropriately to close the piece, indicative perhaps of a time one might finally look back peacefully on the many accomplishments of a long life well lived." [Michael Montgomery]
SIMÓN GARCÍA (Spain) - Prototype
"There is no doubt that Frank and Teppo are two giants figures in the Double Bass world today. They have quite a few things in common: In addition to being two world renowned and respected composers, they have both developed their careers as brilliant double bass players and both are also renowned jazz musicians. Although each of them has a very personal language, they have both written a lot of non-tonal music. Starting from this perspective, I wanted to compose a modest tribute to them by writing a piece that combines both non-tonal language (language that I don't usually use) mixed with jazzy colours." [Simón García]
JOHN ALEXANDER (UK) - time and tide
"The title, ‘time and tide’, relates to the ancient proverb of Time and tide wait for no man, and which has been traced back to 1225. Most of us probably consider that the word ‘tide’ in this saying refers to the ever-changing ebb and flow of the ocean – I know I do – and recognise it as another natural phenomenon (like ‘time’) which man cannot control. But apparently, within this proverb the word means a season or a period of time like Christmastide.
Be that as it may, in writing this piece of music I certainly approached it as a reference to the sea’s daily motion rather than the activity of a particular season. I also felt that at least music can sometimes afford us a sense of control over time and I hope that such a perception might be reflected or perhaps even experienced in this music.
It is with great respect that I dedicate this work to two legendary composers and performers in the double bass world. I memorably met Teppo Hauta-aho 21 years ago and I remain in touch with him today; in addition, from time to time we have managed to catch up with each other at festivals or concerts. I’m aware that it is my loss that I have neither met nor know Frank Proto; but I have the utmost regard for both his music and his playing. A pattern of letters from their joint names have here been transcribed into notes and intertwined, varied and secreted about the work for my own compositional satisfaction and – with a little bit of luck – their mystification. However, I most of all hope that they each enjoy this version of ‘time and tide’ accepting it as a suitable tribute on the occasions of their individual 80th birthdays!" [John Alexander]
P KELLACH WADDLE (USA) - The Vampire Danced Through a Finnish Graveyard With His Flowing Cape Made of Black Winter; Later, He Visited 80 Saunas
"My process of bringing a new piece to life is something I refer to as “the pipeline.” Since I am perhaps one of the 1% of composers who do not do their own engraving/typesetting (everything is very old school pencil and paper on my part) my “pipeline” usually breaks down thusly: compose (the at-the-moment-of-creation hieroglyphics), copy over, scan pages to publisher/engraver/typesetter, edit the returned proofs however many times necessary, then the piece is officially “in the can.”
On some rare occasions, there is a hiccup in this pipeline. But in some instances, such as this piece submitted for the Teppo Hauta-aho 80th birthday celebratory consortium, said hiccup leads to the manifestation of another piece that was not planned!
The first piece I sent to David Heyes for this project unfortunately was a piece on a theme of a very famous Finnish composer whose music is still in copyright in the UK. This was depressing because I write MANY works based on themes from said “famous Finnish composer” — a practice that brings me great joy and always results in works with which I am very pleased. (And with our beloved Teppo being Finnish — it always seems like a very logical and simple go-to to write a piece in this manner). However David had an enormous, if this time ill-placed, faith in me that I could find SOME way to subvert the mentioning of said composer AT ALL and the piece would still fit the project.
So, in the back of my mind for two entire days I struggled with what to do. The composer’s name is in the title. The theme in question’s derivation is marked in the tempo marking! The title even is one of my trademark long, involved titles of many sentences where the fact that the theme in question is originally stated on a clarinet is declared, so that the title is some phantasmagorical reference to a vampire who dreams of going to Finland and transforming clarinets into basses.
So, after two days of frustration, I gave up!! There was NO WAY I was going to be able to tell David what to change on the page to make this piece immune to any pesky copyright issues. Therefore, it was time to put my money where my mouth is, as the American cliché goes, and since I have somewhat of a reputation for turning out pieces at a rather prodigious and expeditious rate, I would just junk this idea (instead moving that piece o a volume of pieces based on famous themes that is scheduled to be released in early 2023 here in the US), and I would just write an entirely different piece!!
I looked upon this decision as a grand opportunity! While most, if not all, of my pieces for David’s projects were my lyrically brooding slower pieces, I would go in a totally different direction with this “replacement” piece.
The two things I used for inspiration were: first, I Googled pictures of Finnish cemeteries. Looking at such photos always gets the muse moving. Then, I harkened back to the coda of one of my large orchestral works from a little more than a decade ago, a Strauss-esque tone poem called “A Walk Through The Vampire's Garden.” The story of the coda of that piece is that a very sad vampire, who has been lamenting the death of many loved ones, while fermenting a growing-more-psychotic rage that so many horrible people are still alive, completely loses his mind. When he does, he leaves his garden, manifests a cemetery by magic where there are indeed evil people’s names on all the tombstones, and alone starts to dance a fiery, frenetic waltz among the graves, whooshing and swirling his cape as he dances.
And voilà, there was the spirit and idea of my new “replacement” piece! This piece’s waltz feel and frame is not as frenetic as the waltz from that orchestral work, nor does it literally take any material from that work However it is much more “showy” and technical with a dark, rhythmic fervour that definitely sets it in stark contrast to many of my other pieces for David’s projects.
The simple A-B-B-A-coda form of this work consists of a waltz veering from F minor and D minor tonalities to notes of a tone-row. The B section is fast running 16th notes that are indeed meant to represent the flourishing whoosh of a vampire’s cape. After the B section repeats, the A section returns followed by a coda that has new drastic changes of register and dynamic before a loud and dramatic conclusion of Bb minor material, seasoned with a raised fourth.
As always, I am deeply thankful for my involvement in David’s projects where I get inspired to write more and more and more pieces, and I am even thankful for having to write TWO pieces for this project — this second piece wouldn’t even have existed if I hadn’t “messed up” and used a composer’s theme in the first piece that was still under UK copyright!!! [P Kellach Waddle]
P KELLACH WADDLE (USA) - The Vampire Remembered the Dire Cincinnati Wind He Walked Through in February 1987
"When I start “hunting” for my inspirational spark for one of David Heyes’ marvellous consortium projects, I virtually always go to a sort of “dream world” place of Gothic flights-of-fancy. I do so to find my “place” to GET the material for the piece. This time, I did something completely different. I went to an actual physical memory!!!
Frank Proto of course played in the Cincinnati Symphony for decades and his name has been associated with that city since before I was born. So I looked back on a memory of a very cold walk on a very cold morning, not long after I turned 20 years of age — a walk from my apartment to the Cincinnati Conservatory in 1987 during the year and a half that I attended that famed institution.
I lived not super close, but not super far from the school. It had come a winter storm, severe enough that I didn't want to drive the icy few blocks to campus, but not so severe that classes were cancelled. So, my rather naïve self decided I would just walk to school! Naïve in that I HAD grown up in a place where there was a REAL winter (as opposed to my last 30-plus years living in south central Texas where if it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less people go into abject hysteria) — however I did not grow up making a practice of going on fourteen block walks in such weather!
So the route from my apartment to school was a commercial one — many shops, restaurants, bars, etc. In that 14 blocks, I had to stop THREE times and go into an establishment to get warm. (THREE TIMES!!) I was hilariously rail-thin at that time, (hilarious that now I am in the third year of a 4-year diet plan to lose more than 100 lbs. —I have lost over 70 as of this writing!) — I DID have two scarves on but no hat — I only had regular shoes and pants (no boots or long underwear) — my gloves were rather thin — and again in my naivete thought I could brave those fourteen blocks without any “special” winter wear with no problem. Oh, how I was so wrong!
I thought many times on that scant fourteen block walk: “Oh I am going to die. I am going to freeze to death. This wind coming from the Ohio River a few miles away is like razors. My legs are never going to work again. I am never going to be able to feel my hands the rest of the day to play bass, so WHY am I going to school at all? Oh I am going to die!”
There, indeed when I was pondering what shall I write “about” for Frank’s 80th birthday piece, I chose this memory to reflect upon. I also went somewhere different in terms of musical construction. Usually, my pieces for the DH projects are of “one thought/style” — usually some sort of dance OR one of my many lyric pieces with long, brooding melodies. This time I decided to juxtapose different coloured and wildly varying styles of material to paint the picture of a very, very cold young vampire taking a very, very cold walk.
The materials that veer wildly from one to another in this kaleidoscope-like piece include: very high harmonic quiet tremolos (shivering!), tidbits of short brooding melodies (the grey ominousness of a winter sky), extremely fast patterns (stomp… stomp… OMG are we there yet? How much farther? OMG I am going to die of frostbite!!), behind-the bridge iterations (the glassy horrid wind), and long note-value lines (the depression of how much I came to loathe my choice to walk, though it was far too late to turn around and go back.)
These materials come and go with or transition at all as the piece progresses to its conclusion — a tag where fast angry notes represent the slamming of a door behind one, going inside at last as if to say “OMG I am finally here!!!”
Happy Birthday Frank! We go way back since I first ever played music of mine for you 37 (!!!) years ago!! — and as always, my deep thanks to my amazing friend David Heyes of Recital Music for his brilliance in conceiving these wonderful projects and availing me to participate in so many of them!" [P Kellach Waddle]
|John M. Kennedy|
|Luis Guillermo Perez|
|P Kellach Waddle|
|Category||Double Bass Solo|
|Difficulty level||8, Advanced|
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