Strumentale is an astonishing composition in which the simplicity and the smallness of the gestures are inversely proportional to the amplitude and the power of the sound. Only one of the four chords of the double bass is played. A single repetitive note forms the rhythm which is the basis of the piece. By using varying pressures, sliding, rubbing, and bouncing the bow on the string, harmonies are added to the original note giving birth to a "melody". The "melody" does not seem to come from any action, but appears simply as a diffuse projection from the body of the instrument. A web of notes takes shape, the result of the action of a single hand on a single chord of the double bass.
The image of the double bass player executing the piece is, in itself, also astonishing. Starting with a simple and repeated gesture of the right arm and bow, the double bass player practically makes his instrument dance. In a sort of intimate duet, he pivots and balances his instrument on its support to better diffuse the sounds in space. In this "dance" sways and turns amplify the feminine image we can have of this instrument, while the presence of its movements seems to give life to it.
With eyes closed the sound becomes a travelling mass; eyes open, it is a volume which dilutes itself in the oscillating movements of the instrument. When the hand, with its imperceptible gesture, begins to create the almost non-existent sounds, we are drawn into listening carefully, to distinguish sound from silence. As the piece continues, the sound amplifying and filling the space, we stay in this same state of concentration, listening, until the end of the piece.
It is with this particular notion and respect of silence that we wanted to approach the composition.
The oscillations of the double bass is clearly linked to the hip movements present in the duet Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. We can imagine that, by a system of interconnected vessels, the double bass integrated our previous dance and proposed now, in its being, another meaning, another dimension, to this new choreography : its motion being useful for the projection of sound in space. In relation to this, we focused on the diffusion of dance on the stage space, playing with the different axis of the bodies, creating lines of tension in parallel with the directions of the instrument.
Strumentale is the third piece of the programme of short choreographies Paumes.
Olga de Soto and Pascale Gigon, 1997