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Michael Montgomery: Giants & Gods: Five Quartets for Young Bassists

Michael Montgomery: Giants & Gods: Five Quartets for Young Bassists

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About the Quartets

Giants & Gods is a suite of five accessible, inventive and colourful quartets for young double bassists. A number of playing effects are introduced, alongside harmonics and percussion, to create atmospheric and evocative soundscapes which are playable by quartet or larger forces. Ostinatos add energy and rhythmic momentum, each piece exploring different musical landscapes, and all are ideal for both ensemble study and recital repertoire. 

Table of Contents

Known for their great intellect and capacity for food and drink as well their incredibly large size, the giant king Gargantua and his son Pantagruel were the subjects of many a yarn in the series of five novels written by Francois Rabelais in the 1530s, an author who loved to poke fun at the way of life of his French contemporaries. 

We are told by the ancient Greeks that Harmonia, the daughter of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and Ares (the god of war), was a benevolent deity who sought to soothe strife and discord and preserve cosmic serenity. 

Belugas, among the most social of all whales, have long been known to be great vocalizers who communicate with one another via a sophisticated assortment of sounds that include clicks, chirps, grunts, squeals, screeches and whistles, oftentimes making such a potpourri of song that they have earned for themselves the nickname “sea canaries.” 

The ancient Romans believed that the moon was a goddess, whom they named Luna, and she drove her chariot across the heavens lighting up the night time sky. Of her Homer writes, in his Hymn to Selene (as Luna was known to the Greeks), “From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that arises from her shining light.” 

The giant monolithic rock that is the single most distinguishing landmark of Gibraltar, according to the ancient Greeks, is in fact the northernmost of the “Pillars of Hercules,” formed when this son of Zeus, on his way to the Garden of the Hesperides, smashed through the Atlas Mountains that had up to that time separated the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. 

It is our desire that the extended sonorities presented in these quartets will enable the young bassist to conjure up in his own mind's eye some of the imagery depicted in these five quartets. [Programme notes by Michael Montgomery] 

About the Composer

Double bassist Michael Montgomery, a student of Robert Rohe (Principal Bass, New Orleans Symphony) and Lucas Drew (Principal Bass, Miami Philharmonic), earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in double bass performance from the University of Miami, played full-time in the bass section of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra for two decades. 

He now lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, where he teaches double bass at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and privately in his home studio. Michael has composed numerous works for young double bassists (including over five dozen short bass quartets for young students) which are published by Recital Music and two American publishers. 

His articles about bass performance, literature, and teaching have been published in American Suzuki Journal, Bass World, and Pastoral Music. 

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