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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mahler's Kindertotenlieder: Nineteenth Century Vienna Meets Seattle - A Modern Arrangement For The Double Bass

  • Author(s): Cory, Matthew Dorn
  • Advisor(s): Krouse, Ian
  • et al.

This dissertation was undertaken to provide an arrangement of Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder playable for the double bass with electric instrumental accompaniment. Motivating this effort was the attempt to show classical performers and arrangers that combining 19th century Romantic lieder with the sound of 1990's Seattle's rock music opens the door for future generations of music fans to understand a style of music otherwise unknown to them. In addition to viola and vibraphone, the arrangement was written for electric guitar, electric bass, and drum set in order to add the timbral element of 'grunge' rock music to Mahler's vision. The arrangement was carried out to demonstrate the potential for future arrangement efforts in this style. Background review provided examples of the 'grunge' genre as partial foundational material for the present effort. Close examination of Seattle's grunge sound has shown similarities to Mahler's musical sentiment. Additionally, this study explores possible explanations for the general paucity of solo repertoire for the double bass. The practices of representative double bassists were examined further explaining the instrument's development. Specifically, the work of Gary Karr and Edgar Meyer were discussed for their relevant contributions to the instrument's development. This examination pointed to key differences in double bass playing styles leading to sound differences. Comparisons between the human voice and the 'singing' quality of the double bass were discussed. The study's conclusion extended Mahler's darkness and light themes in the present arrangement through the use of electric instruments' timbral effects. Suggestions for follow-up arrangement efforts integrating classical and contemporary rock genre were discussed.

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