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  • Writer's pictureBen Hazleton

The sharp end of things

Musician: Ben Hazleton (double bass)

As ever JC was straight in the mood for some blues. After tuning we plunged into a medley of "Hold It Right There", "Woke Up This Morning", and "Tutti Frutti".

Discussing the timeless nature of melody we veered off into “Come Again Sweet Love” by [renaissance composer] John Dowland. Agreement was reached that this was a valid musical contribution still relevant today . But then we needed some good old rhythm and blues so we got involved in “Hit The Road Jack“ at which point staff member Ernest lingered with approval.


"Good morning G, may I come in?"

G was calm, relaxed and perhaps at peace with being closer to the sharp end of things.

I played some Bach cello music on the double bass, then a jazz piece by bassist Paul Chambers.

"Mmm, well thank you" says G "not exactly my favourite sort of thing."

There then transpired a detailed conversation on the nature of the double bass, how sound is produced, how the instrument is constructed, the role of the bass in various musical styles, the tension on the strings and on the front, the weight of the instrument and a good many other details. I illustrated with short musical phrases.

"A melody" says he , I play gently and slowly in the upper register. This he appreciates.

Ernest asks me if L can have some music. I play some pieces. Then a very detailed account of music and life begins:

“Listen to the late Beethoven string quartets, the ones he wrote after he went deaf. There is a remarkable piece , I think the A-minor which has a section in the Lydian mode. You can listen to it while reading Aldous Huxley's book “point counterpoint“ which was in itself inspired by the Beethoven quartet. In New Zealand when I was in university, Bach became the hip music and a local composer had a hit with ‘Switched On Bach’ fusing electronica with the classic J.S.“

EJ gave critical and constructive analysis of Sonata by B. Marcello. We then played and sang pieces by John Dowland and other Elizabethan composers. I told her I had visited in the morning with the express intention of seeing her. She said if we are there in the afternoon it’s fine to wake her up .

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