I was invited to an art gallery in Los Angeles to hear a solo String Bass recital by Stefano. I arrived late and the concert was in progress I was walking down a series of concrete halls to reach the gallery chamber where the music was taking place. I
In the distance I could hear the sounds of french horns, trombones, strings and brass all mixing in a beautiful modal ensemble and at the time I thought that Stefano must be playing with a chamber group. I was amazed when I entered the gallery to find Stefano all alone playing his bass. It was then that I realized it would be an exhilarating experience to work together. And indeed it was!
A few years later when Stefano visited me at the Sri Moonshine Ranch, we tuned up the bass and the synthesizer and began to play without discussing a game plan. What followed was a fresh and exciting landscape where spontaneous melodic and harmonic interplay emanated from the mutual effect our playing was having on one another.
A Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles and Orfeo are collaborative works that resulted.
I was very impressed with the fact that Stefano played his bass very similarly to the North Indian Sarangi ( a bowed string instrument with many sympathetic strings that is played by gliding the fingernail along the side of the string instead of depressing it on the fingerboard). Due to my background as a singer of North Indian Raga, in which the sarangi is used, I found it very exciting to sing and play with the interactive parts Stefano provided that had a similar character to the Sarangi. Stefano also employed a unique percussive technique that makes the bass sound like Tabla Tarang ( a set of hand drums all tuned to a different pitch). He also played mainly on the harmonics which are pure tones sounding on the various nodes of the string. These harmonics can be transled into whole number fractions that comprise the intervals of just intonation which then results in a scale in which each interval has its own size. We determined the scale by extracting three harmonics from each string. Since each string is tuned to a different tone, that yielded a complete twelve tone scale. I then tuned my synthesizer to the same frequencies as the harmonics on the Bass. Each time Stefano retunes the four strings, another scale is created. We based our improvisations on these basic scales.