Duration: 7 minutes
Commissioned by: Naomi Droge with hopes of keeping audiences thinking outside the box.
Performed by: Naomi Droge (violin) and Monica Washington Padula (piano) at Western Michigan University on June 20, 2011.
Subharmonics are an extended technique made popular by violinist Mari Kimura. Originally experimented with by violinist Niccolò Paganini and used in George Crumb’s Black Angels, the technique was seldom used until championed by Mari Kimura, who has composed several original pieces utilizing the technique. Kimura, and other violinists inspired by her research, have refined the technique to produce clean tones on demand and have eliminated the scratchy sounds that are generally associated with beginning attempts at producing these notes.
Subharmonics are produced through careful control of the location, speed, and pressure of the bow on the string. Subharmonics enable the performer to produce pitches a full octave below the open G-string on the violin without altering the tuning of the instrument.
Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano “Subharmonics” was commissioned by violinist Naomi Droge to demonstrate a new type of virtuosic violin playing by producing these incredible tones, known as subharmonics, within a musical framework. The piece was premiered by violinist Naomi Droge and pianist Monica Washington Padula in 2011.
Subharmonics are notated in the score with 8vb written below pitches intended to be performed as subharmonics.