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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 27 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.

Jan Cowell is prolific 14 year-old composer-double bassist-pianist and Syrinx was completed on 30 December 2017, during a family skiing holiday. Jan writes: "I composed Syrinx thinking the melody line to be a kind of song, with each verse dying away and then coming back again. I aimed to create a building of tension to the Con moto, the peak, and then slowly back, to the quiet and mysterious voice of the beginning."
Jan Cowell started composing at the age of 12 and has enjoyed creating many pieces, as well as playing them. He has composed in different genres, with a variety of different instrumental combinations, and has only recently completed a set of double bass pieces. Jan plays the double bass and the piano and has used each to help with his composing and arranging.
Syrinx by Jan Cowell was premiered by David Heyes (double bass) at St Mary's School (Shaftesbury, Dorset) on Thursday 25 January 2018.

Bernard Salles was born in 1954 and began his musical education in his home town of Perpignan (France) where he studied double bass, organ, composition and orchestral conducting at the Conservatoire. In 1973 he went to the Conservatoire of Versailles and in 1976, at the age of 22, he was awarded a double bass teaching diploma. Since then he has taught at the Conservatoire of Pau (South-west France) and played with many major French orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris and the National Orchestra of France, under the direction of conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Metha and Lorin Maazel. In 1983 he began a parallel career as a conductor and was Music Director of the Orchestra of Pau from 1996-2001. He has directed the Orchestra of Pamplona (Spain) and is currently Music Director of the OSSO (Orchestre Symphonique du Sud-Ouest). As a composer and member of SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Editors of Music), he has written over 30 works including two symphonies, a cantata, a psalm for bass and orchestra, a concerto for double bass and small orchestra, Rhapsody for viola and orchestra, Triptych for orchestra, Prelude for cello and orchestra, a symphonic poem for soprano, cello and orchestra, as well as works for chamber groups, and for choir and organ. His pedagogic works are published by G.Billaudot in Paris and his works for double bass are published by Recital Music (England).

Michal Bylina writes: "Syrinx or Pan's Lament describes Pan's feelings immediately after Syrinx's transformation into a hollow water reed. Having lost his desired nymph, his heart is now filled with sadness, suffering and sense of powerlessness. Therefore, he decides to cut the reeds and make pan pipes to play a haunting, doleful tune that express his yearning.
The piece was written for the 'Syrinx Project’ directed by David Heyes and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy. Mostly inspired by impressionists such as Debussy, this offers a journey into the magical whole tone world. Syrinx starts with sorrowful harmonics that are followed by a lyrical melody developing the feeling of loneliness. Atmospheric, extemporaneous, mysterious, fugacious, makes use of techniques like sul ponticello or pizzicato. Actually, these two close quietly the lonesome soliloquy making an impression as if a spell has just ended."

The first chord is played in low thumb position - with the thumb on octave G and the F# as a false harmonic on the D string, where you would play F#, played with the 2nd or 3rd finger.

Syrinx by Michal Bylina was premiered by David Heyes (double bass) at Trumpington Village Hall (Cambridge, UK) on Sunday 18 February 2018.

Syrinx by David Heyes is dedicated to Glen Rodriguez who has premiered and played a number of his works in Venezuela.
David writes: “Syrinx is for unaccompanied double bass, lasts around three minutes, and features the lyrical and sonorous possibilities of the double bass, primarily in its orchestral register. The opening bars of Debussy's masterpiece for flute have influenced the musical narrative, particularly its rhythm and chromatic opening phrase. Sul ponticello (at the bridge) has been introduced to vary the colours and timbres, and the middle section features music of a more dramatic nature which gradually decreases in momentum and drive as it moves into a higher register. The piece ends slowly and atmospherically repeating the chromatic motif as the music recedes into the far distance.”

Syrinx was premiered by the composer on Saturday 17 February 2018 at Wolvercote Hall (Oxford, UK) and received its Irish premiere by David Whitla (double bass) at Triskel Arts Centre (Cork City, Eire) on Saturday 24 February 2018.

Graham Boag was born in Scotland, now living and working in Oman, and has a busy and successful career as a double bassist, composer and arranger. He writes in many genres and has produced a wealth of music for double bass. Graham writes: "Syrinx is quite programmatic in approach and Pan's love for Syrinx is not reciprocated in the first section (until B) but just before we arrive at B Syrinx disguises herself as a bed of reeds.Pan arrives at the reeds (B) and decided to cut them to make his panpipes, not knowing that he has killed his love, Syrinx, and that he will never see her again, although he will always be close to her when he plays his pipes. Letter C is Pan's reflective mood and is played freely.” Syrinx by Graham Boag was premiered by David Heyes at Trumpington Village Hall (Cambridge, UK) on Sunday 18 February 2018.

Tony Osborne has an unrivalled international reputation of writing successful, accessible and enjoyable music for double bass. He has the rare ability to write music for every level of performer and his music is loved and performed by bassists throughout the world.
Tony writes: "New Syrinx was composed for David Heyes, in response to his call for new works, based on the iconic Syrinx, for solo flute, written in 1913 by Claude Debussy. The response to the call has been prolific, with scores from all over the world.
My new piece takes up the mysterious and exotic overtones, so indelibly set in Debussy’s original masterpiece. Where it takes a slightly different turn is perhaps in its relatively greater melodic and harmonic stability, particularly to make it more playable by anyone less accustomed to chromatic melody and harmony, but, who nevertheless desires to immerse themselves into the more meditative and pastille shades made so fragrant by the master Debussy.
The popular tale tells of Syrinx doing all she could to free herself from the unwanted attention of the GodPan, and turning to the water nymphs to help, whereupon she was transformed into water-reeds! New Syrinx opens with a motif not unlike a melody made popular by the Rumanian Pan-Pipe virtuoso George Zamfir. It later calls for the bow to play a triplet variation of that, very staccato, off the string – with the effect of ‘spitting’ into the pipes – creating a feeling of agitation and unrest.
There is further movement – flight to the safety of the river, where the pace softens, as she becomes subsumed into nature, heralding a tranquil conclusion to the piece."

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Cat No. RM986
Supplier Code RM986
Price £12.50
ComposersGraham Boag
Michal Bylina
Jan Cowell
Claude Debussy
David Heyes
Tony Osborne
Bernard Salles
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-986-5
EAN-13 9790570459865
Weight 132 grams
Published 5th March 2018
Availability 7 in stock
See also...
RM979  Aria
RM987  SYRINX Book 2
RM988  Incantations
RM998  SYRINX Book 3