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2018 marks the centenary of the death of the great French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and the 'Syrinx Project' is an international initiative inviting composers to write a new work for unaccompanied double bass, lasting around three minutes, and inspired in some way by Debussy's masterpiece Syrinx for solo flute.
Inspired and directed by David Heyes, the 'Syrinx Project' has brought together 28 composers from across the world with the aim of creating an exciting year-long programme of commissions, performances and recordings.
All the pieces in the 'Syrinx Project' will be published by Recital Music, alongside a transcription of Debussy's original Syrinx, in a series of innovative and evocative books which deserve to find a permanent place in the concert repertoire for unaccompanied double bass.

"Syrinx was written at the request of David Heyes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy in a series of short pieces for solo Double Bass inspired by the Debussy's work for solo Flute from which the title is taken.
My piece takes the form of an extended lyrical line which is subject to several brief interruptions before returning to the original melodic content, gradually expanding the range over which the melody traverses. The core harmonic material is similarly gradually expanded throughout and is reflective of the heavily chromatic tonal language used by Debussy in his work. The work has an improvisation character and gradually reveals itself through the continual unfolding of small motifs which are quickly expanded into more substantial melodic lines before gradually ebbing away." [Ashley John Long 8 January 2018]

ERIC FUNK (USA) - Syrinx's Century-Late Echo
"This short piece for unaccompanied double bass solo is a "response" to Debussy's well-known solo flute work "Syrinx". The piece was composed at the request of internationally known double bassist, David Heyes, as part of a project acknowledging the 100th anniversary of Debussy's death (2018).

As a 15-year old school student, my school music program had an inordinate number of very fine flautists, the four top players having formed a flute quartet well-known throughout the Northwestern United States music scene. All these young women, at some time, played "Syrinx" as a contest piece. I heard it so many times during my young years that I nearly have it memorized. I found it interesting to write a piece in homage to Debussy and, particularly, Syrinx, for the double bass, an instrument at the lowest end of the musical staff, in contrast to the flute, an instrument at the highest end. To that end, I rather reversed the direction of Debussy's opening motive and created at least the gesture of an ascending line in contrast to his descending line. But my central purpose was to capture the mythic ethos I felt Debussy created with his music depicting the nymph from classical Greek mythology at the river's edge seeking assistance from the river nymphs. In answer to her plea, she was turned into hollow water reeds that made a haunting sound when god's frustrated breath blew across them. Pan cut the reeds to make his Pan Pipes, from that point forward known as syrinx. My title suggests Syrinx "voice" is now echoed back through the air from a more "center of the earth" instrument, the double bass. It is composed to act as an answer to her questioning voice." [Eric Funk]

JOHN ALEXANDER (UK) - roseaux dans anches
"For his play 'Psyché', playwright Gabriel Mourey asked Claude Debussy to compose incidental music depicting "the last melody that Pan plays before his death"; the composer delivered 'La Flûte de Pan, or Syrinx' for unaccompanied flute. In Debussy's day, shepherds could still be heard playing panpipes to their flock in the Southern French countryside. In actual fact, the panpipe is an extremely ancient wind instrument and bears the name that evolved from the Greek legend of the god Pan pursuing the nymph Syrinx; of her being saved and changed in the nick of time by the Naiades into a bunch of reeds. Pan noticed how the wind made these musical; and he cut them down into different lengths, bound them together and began to play. In the French language, there are two words for our single English one for 'reed': 'roseau', for the botanical meaning, and 'anche', for the musical. And so I had my title, of some singular entity transforming into something else whilst maintaining a similar and recognisable structure. This work, 'roseau dans anches', composed for unaccompanied double bass, is a variation on Debussy's model and is warmly dedicated to Dritan Gani." [John Alexander]
PREMIERE: Saturday 4 August 2018 - Boccherini Institute, Lucca, Italy (Bass2018) - Dritan Gani (double bass)
TURKISH PREMIERE: Tuesday 30 October 2018 - Yasar Kemel Hall, Contemporary Arts Centre, Ankara - Dritan Gani (double bass)

LUIS GUILLERMO PEREZ (Venezuela) - Ascencion
"Ascensión" is a monothematic piece structured in three parts. The first part is in the key of E minor until bar 18. The first phrase starts with the interval of a descending fifth played pizzicato, which represents the material life, immediately followed by a melody with the bow in harmonics, which always ends in high-pitched sounds and forte, hence the name of the piece; the second phrase is also 4 bars long and is a variation of the first, same goes to the third and fourth phrase until bar 16, and the last two bars are codettas corresponding to this section. The second part with the initial theme in variation goes by G, Eb and Db, and the descending fifth motifs come back in pizzicato as well as new motifs with descending scales (veloce) appear. This section ends in the bar 41. The third part is a re-exposition of the first 8 bars from the beginning, and from bar 50 to 54 is the final codetta, which is a melody elaborated by four notes of the double bass in three registers and ascending to the highest notes, symbolizing the arrival to heaven, finishing with three strikes from the destiny in diminishing pizzicatos." [Luis Guillermo Perez]

Ascencion was premiered on Saturday 12 May 2018 at Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatoire, Barquisimeto, Venezuela by Gennaro Marchese (double bass)

MARY RAE (USA) - Syrinx
"When David Heyes requested works for double bass inspired by Debussy's Syrinx for the 2018 centenary of his death, I thought of what honoring Debussy could mean to me. I've listened to Syrinx since I was young, returning over and over to reside for a while in it's shimmering beauty, and I can't think of any tribute that can finish the job of honoring a composer capable of such work. Writing in the style of Debussy would seem natural, but it is not natural for me, though I wish it were. So, it seemed best to listen again, and then to sit down to write what came to mind and heart. I'd like to think there are moments in my composition which are intersections of Debussy's Syrinx and myself, moments that show the mark which his music has left on me. Syrinx is small in scope, just under two minutes, and written in G minor for unaccompanied double bass." [Mary Rae]

Syrinx was premiered at by David Heyes Green Hammerton Hall (York, UK) on Sunday 18 March 2018.

SIMON GARCIA (Spain) - Syrinx
"The Syrinx Project is a wonderful idea by David Heyes to commemorate the centenary of the death of Claude Debussy. With my Syrinx piece I wanted to tell about the original story of Syrinx and Pan. The piece has five sections and in the first I present Syrinx with a lyrical and elusive melody that defines the beauty and sensuality of the nymph. The second part describes the atmosphere of the enchantment that Pan feel when he sees her and immediately falls in love. Then she realises that Pan is following her...In this third section Syrinx´s melody is heard again but now it sounds a little more intense because Pan chases her until she reaches the river and vanishes.The fourth section tells of the moment when Pan arrives at the river and cannot find her anywhere. He looks to one side, then to the other, searches among the reeds (Cadenza) and does not find her, but only hears the whisper of the wind and the sound of the reeds (Vivo). Tired of looking, Pan decides to cut the reeds and tries to reproduce the whisper of the wind that reminds him of the beauty of the nymph. In this last section Pan leaves the river playing a melancholy melody on the reed flute while thinking of his beloved as he slowly loses himself in the forest. I tried to create a mystical atmosphere throughout inspired me by the sonority of Debussy's piece." [Simon Garcia]

Syrinx was premiered at Galicia Graves (Conservatorio de Culleredo, Spain) on Saturday 10 March 2018 by Petru Iuga to whom it is dedicated.


  • Ashley John Long - Syrinx
  • Claude Debussy - Syrinx (arr. David Heyes)
  • Eric Funk - Syrinx's Century-Late Echo
  • John Alexander - roseaux dans anches
  • Luis Guillermo Perez - Ascencion
  • Mary Rae - Syrinx
  • Simon Garcia - Syrinx

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Cat No. RM987
Supplier Code RM987
Price £12.50
ComposersJohn Alexander
Claude Debussy
Eric Funk
Simon Garcia
Luis Guillermo Perez
Mary Rae
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-987-2
EAN-13 9790570459872
Weight 132 grams
Published 27th June 2018
Availability 7 in stock
See also...
RM986  SYRINX Book 1