Three Bass’tudes is a set of three virtuosic etudes for solo double bass focusing mainly on bowing techniques. Each etude exploits a different technique and/or expressive device and is based on different musical material. Thus, each etude may be performed as a set, separately, or scattered throughout a program. If performed as a set, however, they should be performed in the order given.
1. Top Down is a study in fast arpeggiation, high natural harmonics, and the back-hunching required for the first minute of the movement. The presentation of the music should be similar to that of a Bach prelude. The title of this etude simply reflects the motion from the top of the range of the instrument down to the low E at the very bottom.
2. Drones and Arcs requires circular bowing on open strings while playing a legato arc-like melodic line on an adjacent string. The idea is that there should never be a break in the drone accompanying the melodic material.
3. Bottoms Up is an endurance test dealing with double stops of the perfect fifth and the tritone, and alternating left and right hand hammers (slaps) and glissandi up the neck of the bass. The title of this etude simply reflects the motion from the bottom of the range of the instrument upward throughout many of the gestures in the piece.
Three Bass’tudes was composed for John Geggie.