Solo Contra by John McCowen.
Bandcamp Link: Solo Contra
I happen to think the Contra Bass Clarinet is the king of all instruments. An octave below the Bass Clarinet, it is one of the lowest instruments in the semi-normal range of orchestral instruments. Though, not a particularly common instrument.
Also, there is a style of metal Contra Bass Clarinets where the tube is bent into an oval. It looks totally steam punk and its mechanisms are ridiculously complicated.
In any case, this is an album of pieces for solo contra bass clarinet.
In these pieces, Mr McCowen treats the instrument more like a didgeridoo than using the typical methods. Which is to say, he is manipulating long tones using breath, embouchure, and the shape of his vocal cavity. He creates overtones, plays up harmonics, and in general messes with the pre-conceptions of what a serious orchestral instrument should sound like.
It’s pretty great! Well, if, like me, your idea of a good time is harmonically complex drones, it’s pretty great. I suppose, for some people, it might sound like the SF Bay Foghorns. But, who doesn’t love to listen to the foghorns around the bay?
I have long lusted after the calla lilies which grow profusely in our neighborhood. But, it seemed silly to spend money on something that grows everywhere. Finally, last summer, I broke down, picked up some Calla tubers which had come loose in a neighbor’s front yard and brought them home. I planted them in dirt and, amazingly, they have flowered in their first year. Just, FYI, it can be a little hard to tell Calla tubers from small dog or cat poop, which also seem to reproduce profusely in our neighborhood yards and on our sidewalks.
#JohnMcCowen #SoloContra #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Zantedeschiaaethiopica #CallaLily