Composition - The Long Night with Bass viola

Edited: November 24, 2018, 6:26 AM · This is a recent compo I am working on. I just purchased a decent notation package for future projects. Hopefully in the future I will have notation available for all instruments. The program I'm now using has basic notation capability. Probably not good enough to transcribe accurately all of this.
About two thirds through the piece there is a bass viola instrument. Something from the medieval era.

If interested here is the source of the bass viola sample. It's a part of a package called Medieval Legends.-

Replies (6)

November 24, 2018, 7:35 AM · Very spooky! Unfortunately the link doesn't bring up the image for me and my PC won't allow me to download it. I've never actually heard of a bass viola as distinct from a viola da gamba which of course is a large member of the viol family
November 24, 2018, 12:06 PM · The image shows "Bass viola da gamba", or bass viol. There are also tenor, alto (rare), treble and descant viols, to make up a complete "consort".

The well-to-do would have a "chest of viols" to permit chamber music at will.

November 24, 2018, 5:14 PM · I am pleased to see/hear your composition. For the life of me, I couldn't hear a clear "bass viola" sound, so maybe I need to broaden my knowledge of instruments.

As a young writer, I found "form" to be a most uninteresting topic; compared to the dazzle and dance of chromatic harmony, and counterpoint. Now I often graze through books on form, even looking as simply as working with motifs. Skillful work with motifs brings a lot of magic to music. And if motifs are not tickled nicely, they can dull the music.

November 25, 2018, 6:23 AM · @ Steve Jones, Thank you for listening. Maybe a security setting in the computer? Until I found this library I had not heard of a bass viola either. It has a unique and interesting sound. Seems similar to a cello in sound with a more nasal quality.Most of the instruments in that library are
like the Dodo bird I guess. I have an interest in these medieval instruments though.

@Adrian Heath, Thanks for your comments. I plead some ignorance on these older and more unpopular instruments. Viola seems to have undergone more evolution than the violin.

@Graeme Webster, Thanks for listening and for your comments. When I get some time I'll make a track of only the bass viola so you can hear it exclusively.
I received a comment from another composer that the track lacked dynamics and was a bit underwhelming in the beginning.Those weren't his exact words but close :). I can see his point of view. Since the music portrays a long night I wanted to give it that kind of feel. Everyone works differently. I tend to pull from impressions and ideas before structure. Others use structure as a basis for ideas. The structure is there, but it's built around the impressions for me. Counterpoint is a pretty big one for me because the acoustic underpinnings on some of my other material give it life. I think we can overdo motif which was almost overdone here.Go the other way too far though and the whole thing gets a very dissonant disconnected feel. I visit other composers work and much of it is like that. Disconnected from any main idea or focus. Might work for them. It doesn't work for me.

Edited: November 26, 2018, 3:43 AM · More Fascinating Facts!

Our present-day viola was known as a "viola da braccio" (arm viola) in contrast to the viola da gamba (leg viola). Indeed the Germans call it a Bratsche, though some folk suggest that that is simply the noise it makes when you walk on it..

From "viola" we get violino (little viola), violone (double bass), and violoncello (small violone), although the French use "violon" for the violin, and "alto" for the viola.

So the viol family is not so much an ancestor of the violin family as much as a kind of elder cousin.

A "broken consort" contained a mixture of the two families.

Edited: November 25, 2018, 6:24 PM · Very interesting.

@Adrian Heath,as you say The viola da gamba seems to be played much like a cello in position, yet looks to be slightly smaller.

I promised I would post a singular file of pnly the sounds from the viola da gamba-

Here is also a video I found on the instrument.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Kestenbaum & Company Auctioneers
Kestenbaum & Company Auctioneers

Brian Lisus Violins
Brian Lisus Violins

Warchal Metronome

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop