What to include in a competition piece in 2011? One could write a virtuoso étude or a lyrical essay: but the judges will have dozens of pieces that demonstrate these virtues. I thought a more interesting piece would test a performer’s imagination, intelligence and musicality by offering interesting new problems to solve. Hence, this unaccompanied six-minute study I call Stomp
poses its player three problems; of ear, style, and coördination. First, the violin’s outer two strings are tuned to non-standard pitches. This mis-tuning (scordatura) deepens the instrument’s range, and replaces the usual perfect fifths between strings with grating dissonances high and low. Second, the piece is modeled not on classical precedents, but on American fiddle music bluegrass and jazz. And third, as in fiddle playing, the violinist must periodically stomp with his or her foot along with the music.
demands a theatrical mind, an unerring ear, and a delight in making music with the entire body. It is supposed to be fun for the audience, and a workout for the soloists. I can’t wait to hear them play it.