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Showing posts from 2009

18/60 - True Night

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The manuscript I scribbled while recording.In the Fall, I was a teaching fellow for Robert Levin. On Friday, September 18th, 2009, he gave a lively lecture during which he shared his passion for Mozart's music. After the lecture, I booked the Huseac's recording studio, and produced this minute of music. As you will hear, it is bathed in a quite Mozartesque spirit.18th minute of 60/60, True Night was also inspired by the gift I received: Keith Jarrett's Carnegie Hall Concert. Keith Jarrett is certainly the most interesting composer of piano music in the recent decades. The title True Night comes from his True Blues, and from the fact that I made a direct recording of both Bb clarinet and live electronics during the night. Thanks to Bénédicte, the participant to whom this minute of music is dedicated.Download or listen to 18/60 - True Night on last.fm.You can still participate in this composition project: choose a present, I will compose & dedicate a minute of music to y…

My dissertation committee

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On December 7th, my dissertation committee was approved during the Music Department's faculty meeting. The dissertation is the most important part of the doctoral program at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. I am honored by the four composers who accepted to serve as readers of my dissertation. Let me briefly introduce them:Hans TutschkuHe is a composition professor and the director of the Huseac Studios. He has been my advisor during my graduate studies at Harvard, and he was the first person I went to learn electronic music with.Chaya CzernowinShe has been a composition professor at Harvard since September of 2009. I also worked with her during my first semester here, when she was a visiting professor.
An excerpt from Bleu 3, a quatuor for clarinet, violin, cello and piano.
Bleu 3 will constitute a chapter of my dissertation.Michael Gandolfi Chair of the New England Conservatory's composition department, he was a guest professor in 2008-2009 at Harvard. I appre…

17/60 - IM

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Many thanks to Ronan, who takes part in the 60/60 composition project with a great book on Afro-Cuban Percussion. I have always been keen on learning more in the vast percussion world, and this volume is an excellent introduction to an important rhythmic tradition. Of course, you really learn by playing with other percussionists, but it's interesting to read the author tell the story of what and how he learnt.I dedicate IM, the 17th minute of 60/60, to Ronan. As you will hear, this minute of music retains the rhythmical orientation of the gift. You may also recognize influences linked to the personal story of the participant (hard work, house door... don't hesitate to invent your own story!)Listen to this new minute, as well as the previous ones, on last.fm - or download the sound files:17/60 - IM on last.fmLicense Creative Commons by-nc-sa

Lapalu - Video with violist Garth Knox

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Lapalu, a composition for viola and live electronics, was premiered on February 14th, 2009 by Garth Knox and myself. The video is now available:In this composition for viola and live electronics, I set up a chamber music situation for the two musicians. The violist and the live electronics performer interact, listen to each other, and follow the score that features both instrumental parts.
Lapalu's Coda: viola and live electronics in dialog.For more information about the composition technique, and how the piece was inspired by a flower, check this earlier post: Formula composition in Lapalu.

Rhapsody in Blue by the Dudley House Big Band

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Ryan Banagale is not only a talented musicologist, but also a musician, and a very generous one. He shared with the big band his research on Duke Ellington's interest in George Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue. The result is this unique program that we'll be performing together tomorrow.I am blessed to lead first class musicians in the band. After a semester of weekly rehearsals, we are now ready with powerful sections that sound great. And it's just a pure pleasure to listen to the soloists. Whether they are graduate students in physics, mathematics, romance languages, or other fields, they really know what jazz is all about! I hope to see you at the concert:Saturday December 12th, 2009
Dudley House (Lehman Hall) - Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA, USA
Free admissionProgramAmong the greatest American artists around Geoge Gershwin!Strike Up The Band (George & Ira Gershwin, arrangement Sammy Nestico)Fascinating Rhythm (George & Ira Gershwin, arrangement Ethan Fenn) - W…

Electroclarinet 2 at Hydra

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Looking for the studio album? Visit www.electroclarinet.comThe Hydra concerts are taking place these Thursday and Friday (December 10&11) at Paine Hall, Harvard Music Department. Hydra is Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition's sound diffusion system: it consists in 36 speakers with multiple routing possibilities.During Thursday's 8pm concert, I will be premiering my most recent composition: Electroclarinet 2, for contrabass clarinet and live electronics.
My set-up for Electroclarinet 2 (rehearsal December 8th, 2009)Electroclarinet 2 program notesElectroclarinet 2 is an homage to Claude Debussy, directly inspired by his Sonate pour Violoncelle et Piano. In this piece, Debussy follows in the steps of the great innovative composers: he explores the expressive power of new sounds and twists them with a unique sense of humor. In the tradition, he keeps surprising the audience with his fantastical imagination, a trait maybe echoed today in the music of some o…

Dudley House Jazz Combo Winter Concert 2009

At Dudley House, one of the jazz bands is a creative combo. All musicians from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are welcome to audition in the Fall and in the Spring. The group members then bring new compositions or suggest creative versions of standards. The repertoire is really a function of the musicians' personalities. This semester, the instrumentation consists in violin, five saxophones (two altos, two tenors, a baritone), clarinet, guitar, piano, keyboards, acoustic bass, and drums.Free concert this SaturdayYou are invited to the concert this Saturday, December 12th, 2009, at 8pm in Dudley House (Harvard Yard). The concert will open with a full big band (detailed announcement to come Friday on this blog...), then the combo will play 6 tunes: 3 originals by Brigham Hall, Richa Gawande, and Alan Lenarcic, and reprises from Daahoud (Clifford Brown), Fables of Faubus (Charles Mingus), and Baraka (Steve Korn).Do Right WomanOur previous concert was part of the D…

Robert Henke's life with Max

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On the new Cycling 74 web site, you can read an interview with Robert Henke. Artist known as monolake, he very close to the Ableton Live team. He was a guest at expo74, cycling 74's first user conference in April 2009. That was refreshing to hear him recount his "life with Max". But the best was when he told his feature requests during the open session with the Max & Jitter team!
Robert Henke presents "his life with Max" at expo74 (April 2009)
Atlantic Waves: a collaborative sequencer played by himself in Berlin and deadbeat in MontréalI like the first minute of this interesting video where Robert Henke talks about sound quality.
If it sounds good, it sounds good. Who can disagree with that?

You need Max, but not all the time

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During the electroacoustic music week at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, each of the invited Prisma composers gave a talk to present his current research. I spoke in the afternoon of October 20th in the conservatory's Golden Hall. After an introduction to spectral domain sound processing with Max, I presented alternatives for artists to create music with interactive electronics.Why you need Cycling74's Max
Listening to the sound, and looking at it, too.
On the right side, a glimpse of the beautiful sound system Sa Majesté Le Son.
Real-time transient analysis.You don't always need Max
Live electronics alternatives to Max/MSP/Jitter if you mostly want to trigger sound files include: Ableton Live, Apple Logic Pro's environment, or Meyer Sound's Matrix 3.
A few among many Max/MSP alternatives for interactive sound processes: PD (Pure Data), Reaktor, Max for Live, Kyma
A few words on the piece I was going to perform in the evening: Electroclarinet 1.
The first interactive …

15-16/60 - Bagict - Live by Daoud/Noguchi duo

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As I said when announcing the premiere concert, the piece Bagict (15-16/60) is dedicated to both Ryan Banagale and Michael Cuthbert. Thank you for taking part in the 60/60 project!Ryan chose the Illustrated History of Magic book, while Michael picked Milton Babbitt's Phonemena CD.Because both presents came at the same time, and Ryan and Michael are almost colleagues, I decided to compose a piece inspired by both objects. The Illustrated History of Magic suggested me to base the composition on the idea of transformation. In the piece, the transformation of a musical material into another is realized/improvised/decided live by the performers. From Milton Babbitt, I stole the series of twelve pivot notes used in the melody and harmony of Phonemena's first couple of bars.I recorded the premiere performance on a minidisc (in Bien, Switzerland, on August 15th, 2008). The excellent performers were Yuji Noguchi, clarinets, and Vincent Daoud, saxophones. Here are the links to the recor…

Workshops on FFT & Max

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FFT is a scary acronym for a scarier algorithm, the Fast Fourier Transform. Scary, but when it comes to sound processing, this is the door to go beyond the mirror of time domain. Sound is air in movement, atoms moving through space & time. When you push the door of the spectral domain (using the FFT algorithm), you access the frequencies that constitute the sound. In Shanghai Conservatory, on October 17th and 18th, I taught how to use the FFT in the software environment Max.
October 18th, Shanghai Conservatory of MusicFree tools for spectral sound processingWhere the first day introduced the theory, the second day was a hands-on workshop. We spent quite some time on the distinction between time domain and spectral domain in Max/MSP (made easy by the [pfft~] object).October 17th: topic introductionwaveforms (LP vinyl, tape)time domain sound processing: speed & pitch linkanalog granulation, digital granulationspectral domain (spectrum, sonogram)have fun with graphical sound trans…

From Evian to Shanghai

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On October 19th, the day before my concert, I had a coffee at the Park Hyatt Hotel, at the 87th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center.I had taken my draft of Electroclarinet 1: I still had to clarify details of the score before the performance.In the summer of 1993, I spent 10 weeks as a worker in the Evian bottling plant.It was fun to think that both the water and myself had made the trip from the Alps to the highest tower in China!From the Financial Center (center), you can contemplate the top of the Jin Mao Tower (right).

Two Cambridge clarinetists in Shanghai...

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One of the first things I discovered in Shanghai Electroacoustic Music Festival last week was that our Prisma concert would be followed 2 days later by Bang on a Can All-Stars! I chatted briefly with their sound engineer, but unfortunately didn't manage to meet with Evan Ziporyn: I had to leave to catch my plane before the beginning of their dress rehearsal... I hope we'll meet soon in Cambridge or Boston!

What is Electronic Music?

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I am very honored to be invited to perform during the 2009 Shanghai Electroacoustic Music Festival. Last week, Chen Qiangbin, director of the festival, sent me a questionnaire about electronic music. He will include answers by many composers and researchers in a publication. Read my responses below, and don't hesitate to leave a comment with your own vision...
One of the numerous electronic music instruments used by Pink Floyd on Dark Side of the Moon
EMS Synthi A ad picture CC license by Zebra Pares1. your definition to electronic music?Pure electronic music could be defined as music being produced solely by electronic means, like, for instance, Olivier Messiaen's Fête des Belles Eaux for six ondes Martenot (1937) or Karlheinz Stockhausen's Studie II, electronic music on tape (1954).
But I prefer a wider definition, encompassing music produced through the use of both electronic and acoustic means. In that respect, works such as Pierre Schaeffer's Étude aux Chemins de Fer

Meet Prisma in Shanghai

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Prisma is a group of composers and researchers dedicated to International Pedagogy and Research on Assisted Musical Systems. The next Prisma event is happening in Shanghai Conservatory as part of the 2009 Shanghai International Electroacoustic Music Week. From October 16th to 26th, you can attend workshops (including hands-on instruction by the best specialists of PWGL), a series of conferences, and concerts.
I have been invited with the following musicians and researchers:Hans Tutschku, composer, Harvard University (USA)Jacopo Baboni-Schilingi, composer, Conservatory of Montbeliard (France)Orjan Sandred, composer, researcher, University of Manitoba (Canada)Johannes Kretz, composer, researcher, University of Vienna (Austria)Mikael Laurson, researcher, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki (Finland)Carlos Caires, composer, Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa and CITAR - Research Center for Science and Technology in Art (Portugal)Mika Kuuskankare, researcher, composer, Center for Music and Technolo…

Perpetuum mobile - meditation for dancing clarinetist

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Above is the manuscript of Perpetuum mobile, the second part of PPP for dancing clarinetist.The music is to be performed legato sempre using circular breathing. When the clarinetist reaches the end, s/he circles back to the top, and can play it for as long as desired.The dance movement is notated in Labanotation / Kinetography Laban (just one side is notated). It should be looped as well. The movement should be very slow, inspired by the Butoh art of dancing.
Perpetuum mobile starts at 2:25 in the PPP videoThis section of PPP is more minimalist than Stockhausen's In Freundschaft, Harlekin, Tanze Luzefa, and other innovative pieces created by Suzanne Stephens. If you're a clarinet player, I hope you enjoy performing it!

Robert Levin is a true music lover

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This fall of 2009, I am fortunate to be appointed head teaching fellow for Harvard's core course B-54: Chamber Music From Mozart to Ravel, taught by Robert Levin (Curriculum Vitae on Harvard Music Department's web site) (there is a shorter biography on wikipedia).Attending a lecture by Robert Levin is a great experience. He believes that anyone can have fun listening to great music, and he is very talented to communicate his fascination for music. Whether you never listened to classical music in your life, or you are an accomplished musician, you will hear music differently after listening to him.For this year's edition of the course, he chose to spend some time with the following pieces of chamber music:Joseph Haydn String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 33/2, Hob. III:38 (“Joke”)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 25. Sonate in A: KV 256 for violin and pianoFranz Schubert Trio in E-flat Major, D 929 op. 100Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Second String QuartetRobert Schumann Phantasiestücke…

Sabaudia - the land of trees

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Last Sunday, I played with the folk group Sabaudia. This friendly group of musicians and dancers performs traditional songs and dances from Haute-Savoie. It is with this group that I first performed out of Metropolitan France, in Guadeloupe and Denmark, in the early '90s.The following pictures were taken by Martial Dray, thank you Martial!

Puppet - Manuscript (solo clarinet & dance)

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Puppet: the manuscriptLast week, I posted the live video recording of PPP for dancing clarinetist. The first part is called Puppet.You can read on my manuscript score different layers composed between 2007 and 2009. I wrote the music in Helsinki in 2007, along with a naive puppet story and guidelines for the movement composition. I actually choreographed the piece between February and May 2009.

Studies for Dancing Clarinetist - PPP Video

A few months ago, I invited you to the première performance of PPP, a series of three studies for dancing clarinetist. Here is the video, recorded live on May 2, 2009, in Lowell Hall (Cambridge).PuppetPerpetuum mobile (at 2:25)Pipo (at 3:18)Next week, I'm going to post on this blog an excerpt of the manuscript.

Learning Max from Scratch

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Since June 22nd, I have been a Teaching Assistant for the course Great Ideas in Computer Science with Java at Harvard Summer School. During the first two lectures of the course, Pr. Henry Leitner introduced important concepts through programming in the Scratch environment. With Scratch, the students can focus on the notions of algorithm, conditions, loops, variables, without being overwhelmed by a complicated syntax. Scratch is very fun to use and makes it easy to embed images, sounds, and mouse- or keyboard-based interaction. Check out some examples of Scratch programs in these Galleries.At the MIT and at Harvard, you may often hear that "Anybody Can Learn To Program" (in the great book How to Design Programs: An Introduction to Programming and Computing, the authors push a little further: "Everybody Should Learn To Program"). With Scratch, "Everybody Can Learn To Program Fast".
Scratch and Max MSP versions of a simple interactive musical program (click t…

James Ingram & Music Engraving

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Maybe you know already James Ingram, who wrote Michael Jackson's PYT with Quincy Jones. But today, I want to invite you to visit the new web site of another James Ingram, who worked during a long time as Karlheinz Stockhausen's personal engraver.James Ingram enabled Karlheinz Stockhausen to reach the quality of engraving he wanted for his scores. Have a look at some excerpts. I particularly like Michaels Reise um die Erde and Xi for basset-horn (I studied this piece several years ago - the fingerings are given for a Leblanc basset-horn, but it's easy to find ones that work for the Buffet Crampon model).Scores are published by Stockhausen Verlag.
Picture by Clive Barda, 1985, retrived from this Unsichtbare Chöre review.

The Blue Java

During this summer of 2009, I am a Teaching Assistant for the course Great Ideas in Computer Science with Java at Harvard Summer School. Java may be the most musical of all computer languages... Don't forget it's also the name of a French dance:La Java Bleue (1938):L'accordéoniste (1942):

Aqua Solo by Alex Tarbert - live recording

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I want to congratulate and thank the excellent bassist Alex Tarbert, who performed the premiere of my composition for double bass solo Aqua Solo.Here is the link to listen to and download the track on last.fm:
Aqua Solo - composition for double bass solo
First part: arco
Second part: pizzicato (starts after about 3 minutes)Have a look at the program notes, and a glimpse of the manuscript, on the concert announcement post.In case you are a bass player, and want to include a piece in a double bass competition or a double bass recital, don't hesitate to contact me!

Expo 74

Want to hear my French accent in San Francisco? Check out this short video!If you feel like patching, I suggest:Gregory Taylor's brand new article LFO Tutorial 4: Building Complexity.a Max/MSP/Jitter patch to slice sounds automatically: I posted it recently with my other spectral patches (10-sliced-playback).

Eruption for Orchestra

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BMOP reading my orchestration of Eddie Van Halen's EruptionThe electric guitar solo Eruption, by Van Halen, is "considered one of the most influential rock instrumentals of all time" (see linked wikipedia article). This Spring, I had a lot of fun transcribing it into a 2-minute orchestral piece. I bought the CD Van Halen, along with the transcriptions Van Halen Best Of, Volume I (Best of Van Halen). After analyzing the piece, I wrote the arrangement while paying a special attention to the orchestral playability. That's why I used very different time signatures than the ones in the guitar transcription book aforementioned.An Orchestration Course at HarvardThis was my final project for a great orchestration class that I took this spring in the Music Department. Michael Gandolfi, Chair of the composition department at New England Conservatory, was teaching it as a special guest. With five other composers, we were lucky to study with this artist, very experienced and so …

01-05/60 - Live Saturation video starring Mario Caroli

One year after the premiere concert, here is the video of Live Saturation:
Live Saturation
for flute and electronic music
with Ruth Lepson's poetryThis is the live recording of Mario Caroli's Harvard recital, that took place on May 24th, 2008, to the invitation of the Harvard Group for New Music.Mario Caroli plays Ivan FedeleI studied under Maestro Ivan Fedele during several years at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg. Mario Caroli is one of the best interprets of his music. That's why I'm happy to link to two video recordings with ensemble Algoritmo:1. Notturno, for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, harp, 2 violins, viola, violoncello, and double bass.2. Profilo in eco (first part), for solo flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano, percussion, violin, viola, violoncello, and double bass.One more thing that I like in these recordings: the excellent clarinetist Roberta Gottardi is a friend since we played together the premiere and recording of Stockhausen…

Listen to Viola palustris

Here is the live recording of this Alea III concert, when they premiered my composition Viola palustris.Listen while watching this slide show with pictures by composer Phivos-Angelos Kollias.
A slide show put together by soloist Alan LenarcicYou may also listen to the music and download the file:Or if you prefer, Viola palustris on last.fm.The musiciansThe amazing soloist Alan Lenarcic was accompanied by Alea III, conducted by Theodore Antoniou:Flute: Sue-Ellen Herschman-TcherepninOboe: Jane HarrisonClarinet: Diane HeffnerBassoon: Janet UnderhillHorn: Laura CarterTrombone: Denis LambertPercussion: Thomas Schmidt and Philip TrembleyPiano: Yukiko ShimazakiViolins: Irina Muresanu and Iman Khosrowpour Viola: Anne BlackCello: Mark SimcoxDouble Bass: Irving SteinbergThanks to all of the artists for your awesome commitment, and congratulations for getting this great result in just 1h30 of rehearsal time!

Dudley House Music Festival - First Edition

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Dudley House is Harvard's house for graduate students and non-resident undergraduate students. It is a great place to make friends, grow interdisciplinary ideas, and have a coffee at Café Gato Rojo.As one of the house music fellows, I am proud to announce the first Dudley House Music Festival. It is taking place this Sunday, May 10th, 2009 in Dudley House Main Dining Hall.
The Chorus will kick off the event with Haydn's Theresa Mass conducted by Michael Barrett.Then, the World Music Ensemble will perform music from around the world, including original arrangements and new compositions. Multi-instrumentalist Behtash Babadi is the musical director.Jazz Creative Combo & Big BandThe jazz combo's philosophy is to play creative jazz and have fun. By bringing in new arrangements of old music, or brand new compositions, we try and keep the spark of jazz well alive.
The Big Band during the recent Spring Swing
Picture by Jonathan Ruel, Café Gato Rojo manager
I am very happy to featu…

Performance at Arts First Dance Festival 2009

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On Saturday, May 2nd, I will be performing the premiere of PPP, a new series of three short studies for dancing clarinetist:Puppeta reflection on puppetry in music and dancePerpetuum mobileremembering a Butoh performancePipoa clarinet is just a piece of woodArts First is Harvard's huge annual celebration of the arts. This year, hundreds of students and faculty take part to performances all around the campus, from April 30th to May 3rd. The crazy Performance Fair is taking place on Saturday May 2nd, 1-5 pm in 12 sites around Harvard Yard.I'll be performing on Saturday at 2:30pm in the Dance Festival, in Lowell Hall. If you attend, make sure to stop by and say hello after the performance!

Ballade - A New Dancing Clarinetist!

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Today April 25th, my friend Megumi Tabuchi is performing my composition Ballade for dancing clarinetist. Megumi Tabuchi is a great clarinet player, and I am thrilled that she chose this piece as part of her musical theater recital. She decided to link the Ballade to "Dance", a text by the composer Georges Aperghis, with whom she has been working a lot. Thank you Megumi!ScoreFor this occasion, I engraved the music. It's still a draft, but compare to the manuscript!

Aqua Solo - Composition for solo double bass

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You are invited to the premiere of Aqua Solo, taking place on Saturday, April 25th, 2009, 8pm, in Paine Hall, Harvard University.Aqua Solo is a solo for double bass written after my double bass concerto Aqua.I have been working for several weeks with the soloist Alex Tarbert, a complete bass player and very sensitive musician. He sounds great on both arco and pizzicato, and I'm sure the performance will be stunning.
Three excerpts of my manuscriptInspiring bass solosThe double bass solos that I listened to when I was composing the concerto included:Maknongan, by Giacinto ScelsiIn & Out, by Pascal DusapinValentine, by Jacob DruckmanTrittico per G.S., by Brian FerneyhoughThe Ozell Tapes: The Official Bootleg, by Marcus MillerI also used the book Les modes de jeu de la contrebasse/Modes of playing the double bass by Jean-Pierre Robert. This great bilingual book comes with 2 CDs and is a reference for composers and performers. You can find it through the French online store fnac.co…